They say American Pharaoh knows he's special.
Even though he arrived at 4:00 a.m. today (July 14), so calm was the move down from the Santa Anita track that Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh got out on the track at Del Mar for a brief trot at 8:00 a.m.
Before a 10:30 a.m. introduction to about three-dozen media and horse-racing officials, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club media relations director Mac McBride said that what we were about to experience was very unusual for a racehorse. “Most horses don’t stand still,” said McBride. “This horse knows he’s special.”
Sure enough, when assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes brought out American Pharaoh, the tall horse knew his place. The docile chestnut brown racer had his ears up, and he looked right into the cameras. “He knows what a camera is,” said Barnes. “He even poses for selfies.”
Even though attendees were told to not approach the horse, American Pharaoh moved toward the crowd, and did actually pose for selfies with individuals. The horse nuzzled Fox5’s Misha DeBono and San Diego 6’s Laura Cavanaugh as the cameras rolled.
“You could be having the worst day and when you walk into the stable, he’ll cheer you up,” said Barnes.
The multimillion dollar horse will summer at the Del Mar stables, as he did last year. “Temperatures are cooler here than in L.A., and the air is fresher. The horses like it,” said Barnes.
American Pharaoh will race next on August 2 in the million-dollar Haskell Invitational at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park. Barnes will travel with the horse every step of the way, as he has in the six moves since it left Del Mar last fall. “But he’ll be back here, at his home, within a few days.”
Because he will arrive back in Del Mar a few weeks before the one-million-dollar Del Mar Classic, will Southern Californians get to see American Pharaoh run here? American Pharaoh’s head trainer (and the industry’s leading trainer), Bob Baffert, has not announced any plans yet.
“The Classic will be a race with older horses, which we don’t mind,” said Barnes. “He [American Pharaoh] can beat them, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
American Pharaoh came in fifth in his first race last year, which was at Del Mar.
“We took off his blinders and put in ear plugs and did some re-training,” said Barnes. It worked. By the time the track’s Pacific Classic rolled around last August, the horse easily took first. “I told Bob then this could be the one.”
American Pharaoh’s owners have been paid millions in advance for stud fees, prior to the horse’s upcoming October retirement. Joe Harper, the president of the Thoroughbred Club, said, “It’s not about the money at this point. His owners know the public wants to see this horse and it’s good for the industry.”
For now, American Pharaoh can be seen each day doing a short workout, on the track, every morning around 7:45 a.m.
The assembled media were originally told that we’d have only ten minutes with the horse. American Pharaoh stayed out about 25. He didn’t want to leave. Barnes had to feed him peeled baby carrots to get him away from the group. “He won’t eat them with the peels on,” said Barnes.