American Pharoah Wins Kentucky Derby

It was no secret that Bob Baffert had brought a couple of big horses to America’s biggest race, the Kentucky Derby: Dortmund had never been beaten, and his stablemate, American Pharoah, was being compared to the great Seattle Slew. In fact, some closed their eyes and transported themselves back to 1948, when the legendary trainer Ben Jones brought a couple of iconic colts named Citation and Coaltown to Churchill Downs.

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What most wanted to know, however, was which of Baffert’s two colts was better. For weeks, Baffert, the white-haired trainer, had to do something that did not come naturally: He had to dodge the question. He had to keep his own counsel.

It was wise, of course — the owner of Dortmund, Kaleem Shah, and the owner of American Pharoah, Ahmed Zayat, each provided Baffert with an ample number of quality horses. Why alienate one or the other? It was also necessary: Baffert was not sure.

He had kept the colts apart the past five months, with Dortmund dominating in California in three impressive victories against what was considered the stiffest competition in the land. American Pharoah, who was injured late in his 2-year-old campaign, was dispatched to Arkansas in March and April — on the late side — for two tuneups that looked like workouts, as he won the Rebel Stakes by six and a quarter lengths and the Arkansas Derby by eight.