American Pharoah arrived in New York on Tuesday to begin final preparations for this weekend’s Belmont Stakes, in which the colt will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
After a flight from Louisville, Kentucky, and a van ride from an airport on Long Island, American Pharoah was quickly guided off the van in a steady rain and into Barn 1 at Belmont Park.
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A gaggle of photographers and news crews recorded every step taken by the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, who was easily identifiable from the other horses by his unusually short tail.
Trainer Bob Baffert was on hand to supervise the unloading. Once inside, American Pharoah walked around the renovated barn several times before being led into his stall.
"This is Pharoah weather. He likes wet," Baffert said. "He’s never stayed in a barn like this. It’s like he’s at the Ritz."
After getting settled in, Baffert’s crew planned to give American Pharoah plenty of water and his dinner later. The trainer explained that when it rains, a horse often won’t drink enough water and can get colic.
Owner Ahmed Zayat welcomed his star horse.
"He’s coming in as best as we could have wanted," he said. "He’s doing everything right."
Temperatures were in the low 50s, unseasonably cool for June. The forecast calls for a break from the rain on Wednesday before showers return on Thursday and Friday. American Pharoah won the Preakness by seven lengths in the slop after a deluge hit Pimlico as the horses were going to the starting gate.
The forecast on Saturday calls for partly sunny skies.
"I don’t want a track that would hinder their abilities to perform best," Zayat said.
American Pharoah completed his final major workout on Monday at Churchill Downs, where he covered five furlongs in 1:00.20 under light rain. He will go for a light jog on Wednesday.
The colt will try to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed with a victory in the 1-1/2-mile Belmont on Saturday.
American Pharoah had company on the flight from Churchill Downs. Keen Ice, one of his expected seven challengers, shared the same plane.
Also arriving Tuesday was Frammento, who rode a van from upstate Saratoga Springs to Belmont. He finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby.