American Pharoah turned his highly-anticipated 2015 debut into a one-horse race with a dazzling stretch run in Saturday’s $750,000 Rebel S. at Oaklawn Park.
Zayat Stables’ 2014 2-year-old champion, who had been off since winning the Sept. 27 FrontRunner S. (G1), picked up right where he left off in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile outing, going to the front less than 100 yards into the race. Galloping along comfortably under Victor Espinoza over the sealed, wet surface, American Pharoah cut leisurely fractions of :24.41, :49.63 and 1:15.22.
Espinoza gave the colt a nudge at the head of the stretch, and with a swift, powerful move, he quickly pulled clear of the overmatched field, drawing off to win by 6 ¼- length without Espinoza even showing him the whip. The final time was 1:45.78.
"Once he got to the first turn and he was just in his groove, galloping, I just thought 'Well, if he's the horse we hope he is, he's in good shape.' You're always hoping that he's going to run like that," said Baffert. "He showed us in the mornings he does that, so it was just a perfect kind of race for him to come back.
"When you run on a track like that you're always concerned about something coming up, but so far everything looks good. It was pretty exciting."
American Pharoah has now won all three of his races since losing his debut. He has earned $811,500 and also now has 60 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, got for fifth on the current list. The top 20 horses are guaranteed a spot in the Derby starting gate.
American Pharoah gave Bob Baffert an incredible five wins in the past six runnings of the key Kentucky Derby prep. He is tied with Bob Holthus for the most wins in the race.