John Terranova's barn at Belmont Park was bustling with activity this spring and summer. The just turned 45-year-old trainer sent out 39 starters at the spring-summer stand, won eight races and hit the board in 13 others for a strike rate of 54 percent in the money.
That activity kept things busy, but it paled in comparison to the scene there the first week of June when Kentucky Derby, Preakness and eventual Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah bedded down in the barn at the back of the stable area not far from Hempstead Turnpike. The association between John and Tonja Terranova and American Pharoah's trainer Bob Baffert goes back a long way, to when Tonja worked as an assistant to the California-based Hall of Famer.
"That was really neat," John Terranova said of American Pharoah this week while he trained from his usual spot out of Barn 25 on the backstretch of Saratoga's main track. "The horses didn't get disturbed, he didn't get disturbed, nobody seemed to care. It was great, really as easy as can be. Nothing changed day-to-day other than there were a lot of people hanging around. It all worked out very nice. They put us in a nice new barn down there. It's a great barn, set up perfect."
They were glad to be hosts for the week and not long after racing's 12th Triple Crown winner headed home to Santa Anita, a new group of 2-year-olds arrived for Zayat Stables, which also campaign American Pharoah.
Many of those Zayat babies stayed at Belmont, where Tonja oversees things while John runs the show in Saratoga. The Saratoga string of 16, which is expected to swell to 20 when more youngsters arrive soon, includes some forward juveniles and established older horses for a variety of clients including Sovereign Stable and Long Lake Stables.
Terranova only sent out one starter through the first seven days here and didn't saddle his second until Draft Day went and won Saturday's finale.
Terranova, already just $200,000 shy of eclipsing his purse earnings from 2014, talked about a few of the horses with The Special's Tom Law.
El Kabeir: "He's just getting started. You'll see him in the fall. We kicked him out at KESMARC, for about 60 days. That was the beginning of May. So June, July, he came back in the first week of July and now he's been back in training for about two weeks. Jogging and stuff like that. We're taking our time, getting him ready as time goes by and hopefully you'll see him later in the year. He's good. We'll see how and when he's ready and what's around and get started from there."
Ancient Goddess: "She's a French-bred filly that I'm going to run in the Coronation Cup Monday for Sovereign. She's doing really well. She won a stakes up in Canada (the Star Shoot Stakes April 12), a turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies. The Coronation Cup should be a good spot for her. She was third in the P.G. Johnson last summer in her first start (in the U.S.). It's going to come down to the trip."
Flying Point: "She's a First Dude filly. Hasn't started yet. We may see her toward the end of the meet. She breezed up here the other day (3 furlongs in :36.89 July 23). Long Lake Stables owns her. She came out of a yearling sale last year."
Monte Man: "Long Lake Stables owns him, too. He's by Custom For Carlos. Eddie Kenneally had Custom For Carlos a few years ago, good sprinter, by More Than Ready. He stands in Louisiana and this is his first crop. Both him and Flying Point are pretty forward, look like they have a bit of talent right now. He looks like an older horse. He came up here and went way forward in a week."
Draft Day (Won 5 1/2-furlong state-bred allowance Saturday): "He's in Saturday. He's a Kitten's Joy New York-bred for Sovereign. He won first time out, sprinting on the turf. He'll go in an a-other-than New York-breds. He's a fast horse. Pure sprinter. The Kitten's Joys are pretty generous. They do it for you. That's the only one I've ever had. We're 1-for-1 with them."
Z Ponti: "He's a nice Gio Ponti 2-year-old for Zayat. He came in and I like him so far. He'll get on grass at some point. It's his first crop. I don't know if we'll see him up here."
Picture Day: "She ran the other day, finished third in a maiden special weight. That was her second start. She's been third-third maiden special weight. She's a 3-year-old Include filly for Sovereign. She ran well, got caught down inside for quite a bit of the way and finished up really well. It was a good race. I'll hopefully run her back at the end of the meet. She wants to stretch a little bit. She ran 6 and then 7 furlongs the other day. She still probably wants a little more ground in front of her. Maybe we'll get a mile and an eighth later in the meet."