American Pharoah Parades Before Fans at Santa Anita

They lined up around the walking ring Saturday at Santa Anita Park, with some staking out their spot long in advance to make sure they had just the right spot.

They lined up along the track, too.

Some were decked out in Egyptian-style head gear and others in simpler T-shirts and baseball caps.

They were there to see American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown champion in 37 years.

They cheered, they clapped, they took pictures – lots of them – as American Pharoah made his way up the track, then back to the winners’ circle and eventually back down the stretch to his barn.

“It’s been overwhelming a little bit,” Baffert said of the hoopla. “But it’s good to see the fans out to see this horse ‘cause it’s amazing how some of these fans want to get a close look at him and how people love horse racing. It makes me feel really good about our sport.”

The Hall-of-Fame trainer praised the son of Pioneerof the Nile as a “really quiet, kind horse” and said he’s loved sharing him with those eager to meet the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed.

“I couldn’t do that with any normal horse,” he said.

“He’s probably eaten probably 500 pounds of carrots since he won that race (the Belmont),” Baffert said of American Pharoah’s favorite treat.

He said the colt is “handling it really well,” but got a little bit nervous in the winner’s circle likely because he hadn’t raced that day.

Baffert said he wants the colt to have time to “relax and take it easy” while plans for his next race are finalized – possibly the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Aug. 2 or the Jim Dandy at Saratoga a day earlier.

“He’s always been on my schedule. Now we’re on his schedule,” Baffert said of the horse, who will move with Baffert to Del Mar for opening weekend to train there.

“So, when he shows me that he’s ready to bounce back and put in another strong performance, that’s when he’ll run,” American Pharoah’s trainer said.

As for Espinoza, he said he has found it “amazing how many people really like were waiting for a Triple Crown.”

As he made his way back to the jockeys’ room to prepare for his next race, Espinoza’s progress was slowed by fans who were eagerly waiting for his autograph three weeks to the day after the biggest victory in his career.