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Post Time: Friday racing notebook

American Pharoah gallops at Churchill Downs Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

American Pharoah gallops at Churchill Downs
Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

The countdown to The Test of a Champion is at eight days.

American Pharoah will try to end 37 years of futility and capture the 12th Triple Crown in thoroughbred horse racing history next Saturday at Belmont Park.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile has been working out at Churchill Downs and has been looking sharp in his daily gallops under the Twin Spires. He will be shipped in to Belmont next Tuesday and will likely take to the track for light training next week.

The News will be on site on Thursday morning with reports from the backside (@EquiSpace). We’ll have a preview in Sunday’s paper on the top contenders looking to derail this year’s Triple Crown attempt.

Some thoughts and factoids as we get closer to the big day….

  • If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me if he can do it over the last two weeks, I’d be rolling in singles. I’ll save my final thoughts until next Saturday’s print edition, but there’s no doubt he has a fighting chance to pull it off.
  • It looks like we’ll have 10 horses entered, as of this writing, including six horses who competed in the Kentucky Derby, two from the Preakness (including Pharoah) and two others that prepped outside of the Triple Crown trail. Madefromlucky (Peter Pan) and The Truth of Else (allowance race) are the two that did not run in either of the Classics.
  • Todd Pletcher has announced that both Javier Castellano and Johnny Velazquez will be aboard two of his three probably entries, he just hasn’t said which horses they will ride. He will likely make the announcement after Friday morning’s workouts scheduled for his trio of Carpe Diem, Materiality and Madefromlucky.
  • So was the running out of steam in the Derby Mubtaahij the horse that will show up at Belmont, or the horse with the pedigree to stay 12 furlongs? He had a ton of excuses for his Derby debacle, it’s time to decide whether or not to buy into them.
  • Tale of Verve is another head scratcher. I’m not sure what to make out of his big run late in the Preakness in the slop? His schedule, three races in six weeks, and how much running on the muddy track took out of him maybe enough questions for me. I’ve been sucked in to Dallas Stewart horses before after running big at large prices before (see Commanding Curve).
  • Watching old replays of the last two Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew and Affirmed and the pace scenarios of both of their Belmont Stakes races is very interesting. Take my word for it and take a peek.
  • Back in April, I picked Keen Ice to win the Belmont, just sayin’. (See Afleet Alex division)
  • Belmont Drinking Game: Drink every time someone mentions “fresh horses.”


Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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