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May 29, 2015

American Pharoah visits starting gate and gallops


Louisville, KY ( - American Pharoah, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, went to the starting gate Friday before taking a gallop at Churchill Downs just eight days before the 147th Belmont Stakes.

The champion colt, trained by Bob Baffert for Zayat Stables, stood in the auxiliary starting gate at the top of Churchill's stretch and then galloped 1 1/8 miles with his regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez.

"Everything was great this morning - no problem," Alvarez said. "He looked real professional. This is good what they're doing by closing the track for us and letting us train. That makes my job a lot easier."

American Pharoah is being looked after in Louisville by Baffert's top assistant Jim Barnes.

"You see everything that you expect to see," Barnes said. "Nothing alarming; everything is super positive. This is absolutely normal going into any race the way that we're doing. We have really nothing to deal with other than keeping him happy. Everything is going smooth."

Baffert, who was at Churchill for the colt's Tuesday workout, is scheduled to return to Louisville from Southern California on Saturday night. American Pharoah could breeze Sunday or Monday and will leave for New York Tuesday.

Also at Churchill, Keen Ice, seventh in the Kentucky Derby, jogged two miles with his regular exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans. Owned by Donegal Racing, Keen Ice will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux in the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

The Belmont Stakes currently has a probable 10-horse field: American Pharoah (jockey Victor Espinoza, trainer Bob Baffert); Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Mubtaahij (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); The Truth Or Else (Edgar Prado, Kenny McPeek) and Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart).

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