American Pharoah Headed to Saratoga for Travers

Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat spend stall time with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. (Phoro credit: Zayat Stables).

Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat spend stall time with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. (Phoro credit: Zayat Stables).

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will make his next start on Saturday in the $1.6 million Travers at Saratoga it was announced on Sunday by his connections.

The strapping colt worked seven furlongs with Martin Garcia aboard Sunday morning at Del Mar. The colt was timed at four furlongs in 47.2, five in 58.8 and seven in 1:23:2 before galloping out a mile in 1:36.4.

The colt was last seen winning the Haskell invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, winning by 2 ¼ lengths and returning $2.20 as the heavy favorite.

The Bob Baffert trainee has now won eight races in a row and his Haskell win produced a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

The New York Racing Association raised the purse of the Travers to $1.6 million to help entice the Triple Crown winner, and all 50,000 tickets on Travers Day have been sold.

“This is a great day for racing fans in Saratoga, across the State of New York and throughout our nation”, said Christopher Kay, Chief Executive Officer and President.  ”We are honored that the Zayats are bringing Triple Crown champion American Pharoah to historic Saratoga Race Course, and plan to run ‘The People’s Horse’ in the nation’s Mid-Summer Derby. We are also deeply appreciative of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and know that training a Triple Crown winner is an incredible, pressure-packed assignment.  The New York Racing Association is grateful for Bob’s confidence, and we look forward to adding a new exciting chapter into the already rich history of Saratoga Race Course on August 29”

The Travers Day features an outstanding undercard. The supporting Grade 1 stakes are the 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, whose purse has been enhanced to $1 million; the $750,000, 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign for fillies and mares; and the $700,000 Priority One Forego at seven furlongs.

These additions round out a spectacular card which already included the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares; the Grade 1, $500,000 King’s Bishop; and the Grade 2, $400,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

It looks as if American Pharoah will be facing somewhere between seven and nine foes in the Travers. Among those pointing toward the mid-Summer Derby include 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red, Wood Memorial (G1) victor Frosted, Preakness Stakes (G1) runner up Tale of Verve, Haskell runner up Keen ice, Jim Dandy (G2) fourth place finisher Frammento, Curlin Stakes winner Smart Transition and recent maiden winner Mid Ocean.

Trainer Rick Violette will enter Haskell third place finisher Upstart, but said he does not want to run if American Pharoah starts.

Entries and post positions for the Travers will be released on Tuesday.


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