Heading in to the Rebel Stakes the questions surrounding American Pharaoh concerned his ability to bounce back after missing over four months. Consider those questions answered–American Pharaoh established himself as one of the horses to beat in the Kentucky Derby with an impressive win in the Rebel.
American Pharaoh was the Eclipse Award winner for Best Two Year Old Male Horse last year, even more impressive given his limited action. He was anointed by many as the ‘horse of a generation’ but had done little to prove it on the track. With his emphatic win on Saturday he’s starting to live up to the hype. Most impressively, the horse overcame tough conditions and challenging circumstances to win by 6 3/4 length. The track had been downgraded to ‘sloppy’ due to torrential rains in Arkansas. He hadn’t run since September and after an awkward start one of his front horseshoes became dislodged and moved sideways on his foot. It was American Pharaoh’s first race shipping out of Southern California and his first race on a rainy track. Everything appeared to have conspired to keep him from showing his best.
Or not. Anyone would have understood a substandard performance given the miserable weather and ancillary challenges but instead American Pharaoh flat out dominated the race. He moved to the front immediately and essentially ran away from the field winning by 6 3/4 lengths. In the process, he picked up 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points and is now all but guaranteed a spot in the race.
Afterwards, not even his connections quite knew how to react to the downright nasty performance they had just witnessed. American Pharaoh went into his injury hiatus as a promising colt and emerged as a grown ass horse with hints of greatness. In theory, his connections would likely want another prep race between now and the Kentucky Derby but have so far been mum on what their plans are. Maybe they just need time to process what a serious horse they have on their hands. A lot can happen between now and the first Saturday in May but based on his Rebel Stakes showing American Pharaoh might be better than anyone has realized.