The Favorite Is Here – American Pharaoh in Louisville KY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – American Pharoah, the jaw-dropping eight-length winner of Saturday’s Arkansas Derby and likely favorite for 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday around 4 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah, America’s reigning 2-year-old champion, is booked on a H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company charter flight from Little Rock, Ark. that is scheduled to land Monday at Louisville International Airport at approximately 3:30 p.m. The star 3-year-old should arrive at Churchill Downs’ Gate 5 around 4 p.m. to be bedded down in Barn 33 – the usual spot for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Horses.

American Pharoah, a Kentucky-bred son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, has won his last four races by a combined 22 ½ lengths, a string that includes the Del Mar Futurity (GI), FrontRunner (GI), Rebel (GII) and Arkansas Derby (GI). Overall, he’s won four of five starts and $1,411,500.

“He’s the best Horse I’ve ever owned,” said owner Ahmed Zayat, a three-time Derby bridesmaid – Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Nehro (2011) and Bodemeister (2012) – from five starters since 2008. He also could start El Kabeirand Mr. Z in the May 2 classic.

American Pharaoh, winner of the Arkansas Derby ©Benoit Photo
American Pharaoh, winner of the Arkansas Derby ©Benoit Photo

Despite being geared down late, American’s Pharoah clocked 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.52, which was the fastest Arkansas Derby since Sir Cherokee’s 1:48.39 in 2003.

Baffert’s chief assistant Jimmy Barnes has already arrived at Churchill Downs and is preparing for American Pharoah’s arrival. American Pharoah will be accompanied on the flight from Arkansas by Saturday’s Northern Spurs winner Wolf Man Rocket. Baffert trainees Fame and Power, third in Saturday’s Lexington, and Fantastic Style, third in Sunday’s Beaumont, were vanned to Barn 33 from Keeneland on Monday morning.

Harry Rosenblum and Bob LaPenta’s Arkansas Derby runner-up Far Right, also is booked on the flight and will be headed to trainer Ron Moquett’s Barn 10 with multiple stakes-winning sprinter Gentlemen’s Bet.

Four Horses conditioned by trainer Todd Pletcher – Arkansas Derby fourth Madefromlucky, Oaklawn Handicap (GII) winner Race Day and fourth-place finisher Golden Lad and Fantasy (GIII) seventh Feathered – also are on the flight but will join Pletcher’s string at Keeneland.

Zayat’s Mr. Z, third in the Arkansas Derby, is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday after a van ride from Hot Springs, Ark. with the rest of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ contingent. They were expected to arrive at Barn 44 around 5:30 p.m. Mr. Z could provide Lukas with his record-extending 48th Kentucky Derby starter (his record is 47-4-1-5).