Triple Crown winner continues to relish attention

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The week before American Pharoah’s triumph in the Belmont Stakes, Bob Baffert’s chief assistant Jimmy Barnes, alongside stable pony Smokey, walked American Pharoah off the track after a light clockwise jog. Every morning since his arrival to Churchill Downs several people from the racing press stopped by to get an update on how the Triple Crown hopeful was doing and would typically get the obligatory “he did very well this morning” response.

“I’ve been asked just about every question so far except for the big one: ‘Can he do it?’ and I think that he can,” Barnes said that morning. Nine days later American Pharoah made racing history to become the first horse to win American racing’s Triple Crown in 37 years, putting end to the longest drought in the series’ history.

Upon his return to his temporary home at Churchill the following morning, the 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile was greeted by many fans who were waiting with signs, posters and even treats.

The Baffert barn at Churchill has certainly been getting more attention lately.

Since American Pharoah arrived last Sunday, fans have been coming by asking for pictures with the horse.

“The people love him,” Barnes said. “They’ve been coming by and we’ve been friendly to everyone who’s wanted to visit him. This goes right to the top of all of our achievements and accomplishments and we’re just glad that we finally got it done.”

American Pharoah earned himself a few days of rest and relaxation after his Belmont victory and did not do much outside of walking around the shed row in Baffert’s barn at Churchill, but nevertheless the Triple Crown winner is still getting plenty of excitement even on the off days with all of the visitors that would come and see him. His exercise rider Jorge Alvarez said that despite all the attention surrounding him, he’s still him same old self.

“He still feels the same,” Alvarez said. “There’s really no big difference as before, he makes our job so much easier. He’s been pretty cool with getting all of the attention, no big difference. It’s amazing how this horse does it.

It was back to work for the Triple Crown winner Friday morning as American Pharoah jogged once around the Churchill oval. That morning, the colt and trainer Bob Baffert were paid a visit by 98-year-old Dr. William McGee, one of the founding members of Haygard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, who has seen and treated several Triple Crown winners.

“His temperament is outstanding,” McGee said. “I’ve never seen one that had the calm attitude that he had. He’s a people’s kind of horse. I’m enthusiastic about this horse. He’s come along so well and I attribute a lot to the handling he’s gotten. He takes good care of himself and they’ve given him rest when he needed it. I’m looking for [him to have] a great stud career, too.”

American Pharoah paraded in front of nearly 29,000 fans at Churchill for Saturday’s Stephen Foster program. He got a well-earned day off Sunday but was back to galloping Monday morning.