American Pharoah has been our number one Kentucky Derby prospect from day one, and there is no reason to change now. He whistled through the prep races at Oaklawn Park, dominating the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby without even being asked to run. This year’s crop is one of the stronger ones we’ve seen in awhile, but there is still little doubt in either of our minds that American Pharoah stands above them all.
“Who has he beat?“ That’s a question we get asked daily…and it might be the most pointless of the knocks against the horse. Sure, he didn’t beat the greatest horses at Oaklawn, but what about as a two-year-old? He soundly defeated Texas Red in the Grade I Frontrunner Stakes at Santa Anita, and Texas Red came back to crush in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Carpe Diem finished second in that race and is considered one to the top horses in this crop. Upstart was also in the race who is another top contender for this years Kentucky Derby. Also, let’s look at the common horse Dortumnd and American Pharoah have beaten: Mr. Z. It took the length of the stretch for Dortmund to pass Mr. Z in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity. It took all of one second for American Pharoah to separate himself from Mr. Z in the Grade I Arkansas Derby. When comparing company lines there is actually no comparison between him and the other horses in this race.
Another common concern from critics is the fact he hasn’t been challenged. This argument actually has a bit more merit than the others. In his two races this year he’s barely been asked to do anything. In fact, in his last four wins he’s only been shown the whip ONE time. Lets take a look at that race which was the Del Mar Futurity.
He was shown the whip near the top of the stretch and halfway down the lane until being had ridden towards the wire. It looks as though he responded well to be being asked, but I will admit that this is the biggest concern of all as we head into the Kentucky Derby. The fact is you never know how a horse is going to respond to the challenge until it actually happens.
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