By Dick Downey
Photo by Greg "The Commish" Johnson
American Pharoah overcame a clumsy break from the gate to take the early lead in the Rebel Stakes. From there, he increased his advantage.
Under Victor Espinoza, the son of Pioneerof the Nile led at each call to win by 6 1/4 lengths, timed in 1:45.78 for 1 1/16 mile after setting splits of :24.41, :49.63, and 1:15.22 on a sloppy, rainy track at Oaklawn Park.
Making the win more impressive, American Pharoah partially dislodged his right front shoe when he stumbled out of the gate and ran that way throughout the race.
Shippers formed the exacta. On Wednesday, American Pharoah came in from Santa Anita, and Madefromlucky arrived from Palm Beach Downs in South Florida. Locally-based horses followed those two -- Bold Conquest was third, followed by The Truth or Else, Paid Admission, Sakima and Tizwonderfulcreek.
At 2-5 odds despite not having raced since September, American Pharoah returned backers $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10 across the board.
Owned and bred by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah now has three wins from four starts, including a win in the FrontRunner Stakes in his last race of 2014. The muscular bay colt is out of the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma.
American Pharoah now has 60 Kentucky Derby points. Madefromlucky has 20, Bold Conquest has 17 and The Truth or Else has 11.
The winner's next-race plans aren't definite, but the Arkansas Derby on April 11 or the Wood Memorial on April 4 have been mentioned.