American Pharoah has final Haskell tuneup
OCEANPORT (AP) — Triple Crown winner American Pharoah had another easy gallop Saturday morning at Monmouth Park, his final serious exercise before the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational.
The overwhelming 1-5 favorite for the race on Sunday was on the track shortly after 7:30 a.m. He slowly jogged from the barn area to the finish line, giving fans who lined the rail a good look at the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
He then turned toward the inside fence for a one-mile gallop under clear skies and a cooling breeze rippling off the nearby ocean
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said "the track was good, the weather was good," and a lot of fans came out to see him. He said the horse "looked awesome out on the track. We couldn't be happier."
American Pharoah will walk the barn area Sunday morning, and then await the race slated to start at 5:52 p.m.
The Haskell will be his first start since sweeping the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. A record crowd that could reach 60,000 is anticipated.
There's been only one minor glitch since American Pharoah arrived in New Jersey. He reared slightly on Friday when coming through the tunnel to the saddling area, part of the dress rehearsal for race day. One of his handlers slipped and fell. Neither the stable hand nor horse was injured.
Barnes blamed the minor incident on American Pharoah's sensitive hearing. He runs with cotton stuffed in both ears to deaden distracting sounds.
"Somebody was running in flip flops and it echoed in the tunnel," Barnes said. "He's sharp right now, and he just took off."
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