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NYRA trumpets appearance, reminds public event is sold out.
By Tim Wilkin Updated 6:37 pm, Sunday, August 23, 2015
American Pharoah is going to run in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert said as much Sunday morning after the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years worked six furlongs in a time of 1:10.98 (by Baffert's stopwatch) at Del Mar Race Track in San Diego.
"He went very well, a real positive move," Baffert said by cellphone as he was watching American Pharoah get his bath following the work. "I needed to see something like that. We have his bags packed (for Saratoga). Right now, everything is set in play. He had to 'wow' me and he did that. I've been looking for an excuse not to come (to the Travers) and I can't find one."
The official word won't come until Monday, after a physical examination shows the horse was not impacted by Sunday's workout. But it looks like it's all but official. The New York Racing Association officially announced the appearance already - along with a reminder that only pre-paid tickets, season ticket holders or those with table reservations will be able to get into the 50,000-plus event.
American Pharoah is scheduled to leave California and fly to Albany International Airport on Wednesday. Baffert said the only possible glitch would be if American Pharoah does not come out of the work in good shape, but he doesn't anticipate that happening.
"He is great today," Baffert said. "As long as he is great (Monday), things look good."
The Travers purse is currently $1.5 million. If American Pharoah is in the starting gate, the value of the race is $1.6 million. The New York Racing Association has put a cap on attendance at 50,000. All tickets for the event are sold out.
There will be no tickets available.
"I would not sell my tickets," Baffert said, "unless they want to sell them to me."
American Pharoah has won eight of nine career races. His latest effort was an easy 21/4 length win at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2. That was his first win siince sweeping the Triple Crown.
American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby by a length, the Preakness by seven lengths and the Belmont by 51/2 lengths.
"He is something," Baffert said. "It's been 37 years. All I can say is that Pharoah is special. He was born special."
Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, raced at Saratoga. He won the Jim Dandy in 1978 and then won the Travers. But he was disqualified and placed second, the victory going to his longtime rival Alydar.