Louisville’s Churchill Downs Horsemen Assess American Pharoah’s Triple Crown Bid

Louisville, Ky., – As Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah attempts to make history as the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, some of Churchill Downs’ Horsemen gave their expertise on whether or not the 3-year-old has what it takes. Here’s what they had to say:

Hall of Fame Trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “I think he’ll win and win easy. The thing that makes American Pharoah probably in a better position than most of them in the past 30 years is the fact that he’s had two easy races [Rebel and Arkansas Derby], one tough one [Kentucky Derby] and then another easy one [Preakness]. So he’s got that going for him.”

Trainer David Vance: “I like him. I haven’t seen a Horse as good as him since Secretariat.”

Trainer Neil Howard: “I think we all have the same feeling about him; he’s just an amazing animal.”

Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah bids for a Triple Crown in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)
Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah bids for a Triple Crown in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

Trainer Tom Amoss: “I think American Pharoah is up against it. I think there are good Horses that have been waiting for this spot. [Todd] Pletcher’s Horse Materiality, he’s got a proven formula for winning the Belmont in his own backyard and certainly Frosted would be another one. If he wins it, I won’t be rooting against him. It would prove he’s a great Horse that falls in the category of Secretariat and Seattle Slew.”

Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel: “I think he can do it. He’s the best Horse in the race. The only thing that he needs is a little bit of luck. He’s a powerful Horse, just looking at his dimension, it’s all there and the talent is there. The big question is the distance.”

Trainer Jimmy Baker: “The way he breezed, I think he’ll be tough. He’s got the demeanor, he’s got the talent, he’s got all the qualities of a Triple Crown Horse. He might go down as one of the best, you never know.”

Trainer Ron Moquett: “He’s [American Pharoah] the best Horse in the race. It’s just a matter of if he gets the right trip or not. It will take a scenario to beat him – if Frosted presses him or if Materiality jumps on him early on. If he loses, it will be a scenario that beats him, not a Horse.”

Jockey Channing Hill: “The way he breezed out here, I don’t see anyone beating him. Frosted could be tough since Belmont’s in Kiaran’s [McLaughlin] backyard, but Pharoah is the best Horse in the race.”

Trainer David Carroll: “I absolutely love the Horse. To see him, in person and then watch his breeze was absolutely awesome so I’m behind him. If he can’t do it, I’ll be rooting for my man Dallas [Stewart] and Tale of Verve.”

Trainer Paul McGee: “I think that American Pharoah is going to be very tough to beat on Saturday.”

Jockey Jesus Castanon: “I think he’s got it. We think about it every year when a Horse wins the Derby and then the Preakness and always think we got a Triple Crown winner, but this Horse has really proved a lot. He’s fresh and doesn’t have very many races in his belly.”

Trainer Murat Sancal: “I like him. There is no one that I think can beat him. The crop is not strong in my opinion.”