In his first start since taking the Triple Crown in the June 6 Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah looked as charged up as ever as he easily took the $1.75 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (Grade I) by 2 1/4 lengths over Keen Ice on Sunday at Monmouth Park.
The 1-9 favorite patiently stalked front-running Competitive Edge through the races first three-quarters of a mile, and then commanded the lead in the stretch and won under a hand ride from jockey Victor Espinoza. Final time for the 1 1/8-mile event was 1:47.95 in front of a record crowd of 60,983 at Monmouth Park.
The 2 1/4-length victory margin might not sound like a lot, but the roaring crowd could tell that the champ had plenty left in the tank. When Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Layden reportedly asked Espinoza when he stopped asking American Pharoah to run in the homestretch, the veteran jockey responded by saying, “I never asked him in the first place.”
American Pharoah’s victory Sunday came as the recorded-extending eighth Haskell win for trainer Bob Baffert. The Triple Crown winner will return to Del Mar race course in Del Mar, Ca. where Baffert eventually will determine his next move.
- What’s next for American Pharoah? (Courier-Journal)
- American Pharoah dominates Haskell in return to racing, answers doubters (Sports Illustrated)
- Justin Zayat Haskell diary: From anxiety to ecstasy (America’s Best Racing)
More horse racing stories from the weekend:
- Texas Red, Frosted likely to meet in Travers (Blood Horse)
- Saratoga Notes: Rock Fall edges The Big Beast in Vanderbilt (Albany Times-Union)
- ‘Maria’ outduels Untapable (ESPN)
- Bradester wires field in Monmouth Cup (Paulick Report)
We are just over a month away from the Sept. 5 opening kickoff versus Louisiana-Monroe in the new Commonwealth Stadium. After an unbelievable slew of new commitments over the past couple of weeks, Kentucky currently ranks 12th in Rivals.com‘s 2016 team rankings. With the Cats returning to the field for fall camp this week, here are a few links to quench your football thirst:
- JUCO ‘difference-makers’ will join Cats (Courier-Journal)
- Stoops, Cats eager for fall after productive summer (UK Athletics)
- UK Football fan day set for Saturday, Aug. 8 (UK Athletics)
- Kentucky Football praises defensive depth at kickoff luncheon (KSTV)
- Kentucky Football: The Air Raid and Downfield Passing Attack (SB Nation)
The good news keeps coming for John Calipari’s 2015-16 Kentucky team. Over the weekend, class of 2016 Australian recruit Isaac Humphries announced that he would be reclassifying into the 2015 class and enroll at Kentucky for the upcoming season.
In other Kentucky basketball news, details were finalized for the first-ever alumni charity game between former Kentucky players and former North Carolina players, which will be held Sept. 13 in Rupp Arena.