American Pharoah will have his final workout Monday–“an easy half-mile”–at Santa Anita before shipping Tuesday, Oct. 27, for Keeneland to prepare for his final race in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic before being retired to stud.

The mile-and-a-quarter test has drawn international interest and acute attention for its anticipated meeting between Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh and the 5-year-old mare Beholder, a two-time Eclipse Award champion who vanquished males in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 22. Thus, the Breeders’ Cup Classic could have a bearing on Horse of the Year honors.

“He looks fantastic,” Bob Baffert said after Pharoah galloped a mile on Santa Anita’s fast main track early Thursday morning.

American Pharoah Video –

American Pharoah worked six furlongs Tuesday in a bullet 1:10.80.

“I was looking for something really strong, like last week,” Baffert said after Tuesday’s work. “We’ve sort of been going easy with him and I wanted to turn up the jets a little bit before we leave. Monday’s breeze will be easier, nothing serious.

“This was the last serious drill of his life. It’s sort of sad in a way to think that’s the last time we get to see him work like that. Just to watch him breeze, sometimes I get a bit excited, the way he does things so easily.” Baffert has called American Pharoah “a gift from God.”

“We know the Classic is going to be a tough race but my focus is just to have him ready,” Baffert added after Tuesday’s work. “I don’t think about what he’s done or what he’s up to; it’s right now, getting him ready. We’re just thinking about Lexington.”

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Undefeated FrontRunner winner Nyquist (Juvenile) and Chandelier runner-up Land Over Sea (Juvenile Fillies) are scheduled to work five furlongs Friday for Doug O’Neill. Mario Gutierrez rides both two-year-olds in their respective Breeders’ Cup races. Nyquist is set to work before the first race, at 12:15 p.m.

Richard Baltas has engaged Joel Rosario to ride Grade I winner Big Macher in the Sprint. The California-bred son of Beau Genius will have his final work Saturday at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita Sprint Championship winner Wild Dude works Saturday at Santa Anita and is scheduled to leave by plane from Ontario Airport 5 a.m. Sunday for his Breeders’ Cup Sprint engagement, said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer.

Obviously (Mile) and Big John B (Turf) will work at Santa Anita Sunday and ship to Kentucky Tuesday, trainer Phil D’Amato said.

Warren’s Veneda, winner of the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes, worked five furlongs Thursday in 1:01 for the Distaff.

“She just cruised around; she’s ready to go,” trainer Craig Lewis said of the California-bred daughter of Affirmative. “The rest is up to her. She was very confident and very relaxed today. She leaves Tuesday for Lexington.”

“Hard Aces (Classic) has trained up to the race steadily, will have his last work tomorrow and gets on a plane on Sunday,” trainer John Sadler said. “He’s a ‘Win and You’re In’ horse (having won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita) so we want to be in there for that kind of money.”



Trevor Denman might sound like he’s stammering or at least uttering a pregnant pause when he calls Saturday’s Twilight Derby.

A horse running in it is named Om, a sacred sound in Indian religions and also a mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and there’s a strong likelihood Denman will give the speedy three-year-old colt several calls in the nine furlong race on grass.

Dan Hendricks trains the chestnut son of Munnings for the Sareen Family Trust, and has been pointing Om to Saturday’s race since he won the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

“He’s training really well,” Hendricks said. “We gave him some easy breezes and just kept some air in him, then gave him a sharp work the other day that he did without any problem, and everything looks good going in.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a good trip and be there. Gary (Stevens) rides him back and he’s ready to go. He loves the way Om is acting.”

It’s old news, but it is a matter of record that Om won a race in which American Pharoah suffered his first of only two defeats, at Del Mar this summer. Pharoah would go on to win the Triple Crown. Hendricks has moved on from Om’s victory, however.

“We took different paths after that race,” Hendricks said. “American Pharoah’s hardly done anything wrong and it took me a while to get everything lined up for Om but now he’s doing really well.”

La Jolla Handicap winner Prospect Park, who had been expected to start in the Twilight Derby, has been sent to River Edge Farm in Buellton after coming down with stomach issues, said Cliff Sise Jr., who trains the son of Tapit for Marty and Pam Wygod.

Deepest condolences to Om’s owner, K.B. Sareen, whose son, a U.S. Marine Corps pilot, died Wednesday when his fighter jet crashed in an English countryside, according to a report in Daily Racing Form.

The field for the Twilight Derby: Hunt, Mike Smith, 8-1; Mister Brightside, James Graham, 6-1; Om, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Ground Rules, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Boone Docks, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; Soul Driver, Tyler Baze, 9-2; Daddy D T, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Royal Albert Hall, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Second Summer, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; and Verraco, Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1.



Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund makes his first start since running a distant fourth in the Preakness on May 16 when he runs in Saturday’s $70,000 Big Bear Stakes for three-year-olds and up at one mile.

“It’s a nice spot for him to come back, but it’s a prep for the Clark (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27),” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He lost some weight after the Triple Crown races, but he’s getting back to where he was. He’s almost there.

“I didn’t want to go in the Clark without a prep. I would have preferred to run him short after the layoff.”

The Big Bear, race eight of nine: Cat Burglar, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; Motown Men, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Point Piper, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Soi Phet, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; Dortmund, Martin Garcia, 4-5; and Mystery Train, Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1.



Thoroughbred Owners of California announced that Nick Coukos has accepted the position of President. Coukos is stepping down as Vice President Racing/Corporate Affairs at Ajax Downs, a privately owned Quarter Horse racetrack and slot facility near Toronto, Canada.

Prior to that he was Executive Director of HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association) Ontario and Secretary/Treasurer for the National HBPA, where he was fiscally and operationally responsible for the well being of a membership of over 30,000 horsemen. A finance and accounting major, he holds an honours degree in business administration from York University.

Coukos replaces Joe Morris, who will return to racetrack management as Senior Vice President of West Coast Operations for the Stronach Group effective Nov. 9.

TOC Chairman Mike Pegram said, “We are very happy that Nick has accepted the position. With his strong financial acumen, proven track record building relationships with industry stakeholders, and broad understanding of the horse industry, he is well equipped to assure TOC’s continued leadership role in California.”

“I am thrilled to accept the position as TOC President,” said Coukos. “I am looking forward to working on the challenges facing California owners and excited to be part of the ongoing solution.”

TOC is the official organization serving new, veteran and future Thoroughbred owners in the state. It represents, advances, and protects owners’ interests and rights in legislative, administrative and business matters.


FINISH LINES: On Saturday,Santa Anita hosts an Aftercare Awarenesss dayfor the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), a non-profit, charitable organization created to raise money for retired California race horses. There will be an on-track demonstration with two Thoroughbred show jumpers and four jumps after the third race . . . Eclipse Award-winning jockey Darrel McHargue who began his career as a racing official in 1988, was appointed Thursday by the California Horse Racing Board to the newly created position of Chief Steward, whose primary responsibility will be the daily supervision of all CHRB stewards . . . Horse player and prominent California owner/breeder Terry Lovinger and Jon Hardoon of the Ragozin Sheets will be Tom Quigley‘s guests Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 11:50 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Overheard from a disgruntled Cubs’ fan after his team never led in any game as the Mets completed a four-game sweep on TBS: “For this they pre-empted Seinfeld?”


(Current Through Sunday, Oct. 18)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 82 20 9 12 24% $834,978
Mario Gutierrez 43 11 9 5 26% $601,356
Santiago Gonzalez 74 10 10 8 14% $420,886
Tyler Baze 83 8 18 4 10% $627,966
Joseph Talamo 63 8 10 9 13% $358,820
Martin Garcia 56 7 5 12 13% $450,830
Victor Espinoza 34 7 3 3 21% $256,480
James Graham 43 6 5 2 14% $266,270
Fernando Perez 48 6 4 6 13% $227,558
Kent Desormeaux 36 5 4 6 14% $340,000
Gary Stevens 36 5 4 6 14% $552,110
Alonso Quinonez 40 4 8 5 10% $174,592
Drayden Van Dyke 25 4 4 3 16% $357,810
Mike Smith 28 4 4 3 14% $497,428
Ty Kennedy 20 4 2 2 20% $107,080
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Peter Eurton 27 8 6 2 30% $278,980
Jerry Hollendorfer 35 7 6 5 20% $678,516
Doug O’Neill 40 6 9 6 15% $467,140
Peter Miller 42 6 9 4 14% $336,174
Philip D’Amato 40 5 8 6 13% $296,670
Richard Baltas 25 5 5 1 20% $247,624
Mark Glatt 21 5 1 4 24% $148,140
Bob Baffert 33 4 5 5 12% $302,222
Steven Miyadi 22 4 4 3 18% $94,250
John Sadler 34 3 5 4 9% $262,170
Richard Mandella 22 3 1 3 14% $341,690
Michael McCarthy 9 3 1 0 33% $87,670
Hector Palma 11 3 1 0 27% $75,660
Patrick Gallagher 9 3 0 0 33% $89,570