The once-beaten American Pharoah stamped himself as the favorite to win the 141st Kentucky Derby (gr. I) when he drew off with powerful strides to score a decisive victory in the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) on April 11th at Oaklawn Park.
With Victor Espinoza in the saddle for trainer Bob Baffert, American Pharoah broke smoothly from post position six and quickly assumed a tracking position a few lengths behind front-running Bridget’s Big Luvy, who carved out fractions of :22.77, :45.99, and 1:10.54 while racing alone on the lead. Mr. Z, racing just two weeks after finishing last in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), was right behind American Pharoah in third place, while Madefromlucky, The Truth Or Else, Win the Space, Bold Conquest, and Far Right were the trailers.
As field moved around the final turn, American Pharoah began to inch closer to Bridget’s Big Luvy while Mr. Z mounted a challenge on the far outside. For a brief moment, the three colts were on almost even terms, but then Espinoza asked American Pharoah to run, and the race was all but over. With complete authority, American Pharoah left his rivals behind, drawing off under light urging before being eased up late to win by eight lengths in the time of 1:48.52 for nine furlongs.
Behind American Pharoah, a real race developed for second place, with Far Right rallying on the far outside to edge Mr. Z by three-quarters of a length for the runner-up spot. Madefromlucky finished right behind Mr. Z in fourth, while Bold Conquest, Win the Space, The Truth Or Else, and Bridget’s Big Luvy completed the order of finish.
American Pharoah is a son of Pioneerof the Nile out of the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma. Owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah has won four of his five career starts, with including grade I victories in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) that earned him the title of Eclipse champion 2yo male of 2014. He returned from a layoff to win the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn on March 14th as a prep for the Arkansas Derby, and having gone 2-for-2 thus far this season, he is now in the position to add the Kentucky Derby to his already stellar record.
The Equibase chart of the Arkansas Derby can be viewed here.