Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was on display for San Diego area media the morning of July 14 at Del Mar, about six hours after arrival at trainer Bob Baffert's barn.
The colt was vanned down from Santa Anita Park in overnight with several other Baffert horses, arriving at 4 a.m. PT. Assistant trainer Jim Barnes, who presented the horse in the absence of Baffert -- away to attend the July 15 ESPY Awards along with jockey Victor Espinoza -- said it was a very smooth freeway trip at that hour.
At around 7:30 a.m. American Pharoah, who notched his first career victory in the Del Mar Futurity on Polytrack last September, got his first experience on the new dirt surface, jogging one mile around the main track oval.
"He loves it down here," Barnes said. "It was just a normal jogging day after a ship."
A couple of dozen media members, including representatives from six television stations, assembled for what was scheduled to be a 10-minute gathering but ran slightly over that. One reason was that American Pharaoh seemed to be enjoying it so much he resisted the first tug to be led back to his stall. Before it was over, there was no gap between the media and the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and good feelings appeared mutual.
"He loves selfies," Barnes said.
American Pharoah will train at Del Mar for an expected start in the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park. The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile , will go to the Del Mar track between 7:30 and 7:45 during the week and will have workouts on the weekends.
"You don't get to meet a Triple Crown winner very often, so we're delighted to have him here," said Joe Harper, Del Mar president and CEO. "He's looking very good and we're glad to have him back where [his career] started."