“He was very impressive. He’s an amazing horse. The first time I rode him, Bob said he’s the real deal. Bob’s a Hall of Famer so he knows.” – Victor Espinoza, jockey aboard American Pharoah
We moved to a sloppy Oaklawn Park for the Week 9 Road to Kentucky contest which featured the Rebel Stakes. The highly regarded American Pharoah made his 3 year-old debut for trainer Bob Baffert and he didn’t disappoint as the heavy 2/5 favorite, drawing off to a convincing 6-length victory. American Pharoah was sired by Pioneer of the Nile, runner-up in the 2009 Kentucky Derby to Mine That Bird. Owned by Zayat Racing Stables, American Pharoah has a curious name. Maybe they were big Steve Martin fans in the late 1970’s? A prior generation’s “American Pharoah…
The maximum score last week was 1,870 points. This is the lowest maximum score in the contest so far, and it’s very good news if you are already in the top 50 or so. There wasn’t much chance to gain on the leaders from the back of the pack as the highest single race point total was below 300 points. Even with several full fields and sloppy conditions, the public was in tune with the race results and chaos did not abound. The biggest surprise on the day was that last year’s 3 year old champion filly Untapable was defeated at short odds in her 2015 debut. However, trainer Steve Asmussen did have a poor record with layoff runners in this situation, and many will recall how Rachel Alexandra did not run back well as a 4-year old compared to her brilliant 3-year old campaign. It was at least a hint that Untapable might be vulnerable.
I scored around 500 points this week with an 8-1 winner and some minor placings. My Rebel selection was Bold Conquest (8-1) who ran third after having a bit of trouble in the first turn. I doubt it affected his final finish position. I expect the winning score to be in the 1,200 point range this week with plenty of bunched scores. There wasn’t one “must have” selection this week; you simply needed a lot of winners.
This Saturday the contest track is Turfway Park for the featured Spiral Stakes. Animal Kingdom won the Spiral back in 2011 on his way to winning the Kentucky Derby. Hope to see you here!