All the other big players in the 3-year-old male division have had at least one turn at the plate this year, their chance to flex a few muscles and show how powerful their stroke can be when they get wood on the ball.
The physically striking Dortmund has connected twice for home run shots. Carpe Diem nailed a perfect line drive in his return. Even Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red delivered a solid single before being forced to rehab an injury.
Looming in the on-deck circle, taking big, wind-splitting swings has been the champion who crushed everything in his sight last summer.
He will get his chance to officially rejoin the lineup in Saturday's Grade II, $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. And woe be it to his classmates if American Pharoah's return looks anything like the last time he suited up.
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Many moons have passed since the sport has seen so many of its top juvenile male runners carry their form into their sophomore year with the authority this crop has.
If the same holds true for Zayat Stables' homebred American Pharoah, the reigning champion 2-year-old male, something special could transpire in the coming weeks. Off since being scratched as the favorite out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last October because of injury, American Pharoah stands as the overwhelming favorite out of post No. 4 against six others in the 11⁄16-mile Rebel Stakes.
"It's a special time for sure. I've been counting down the days (to his return) from the time we had to announce he was out for the Breeders' Cup," said Justin Zayat, racing and stallion manager for Zayat Stables. "This is one of the first years that I remember where the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is still a key, key race. Texas Red came back, Carpe Diem, Upstart, all these horses were competing in the Breeders' Cup and are all still going on.
"Our horse, we're confident in him. We've been waiting for this time to come. I think it will give a big indication of this Derby crop, what is coming and where he is."
Anticipation for American Pharoah's return has nullified any notion of out-of-sight, out-of-mind because the son of Pioneerof the Nile left quite an impression in his three starts last season.
After finishing fifth in his career debut at Del Mar last August, American Pharoah got his act together in a hurry under the guidance of trainer Bob Baffert. Twenty-four days after taking the Grade I Del Mar Futurity by 43/4 lengths in his second outing, American Pharoah put on a gate-to-wire clinic Sept. 27 in winning the Grade I, 11⁄16-mile FrontRunner Stakes over a field that included Texas Red by 31/4 lengths.
How tight American Pharoah is coming off that kind of layoff is a rightful concern. But his six moves since returning to the worktab in early February have inspired goose bumps with the latest being a 6-furlong work from the gate at Santa Anita on March 6 that he covered in 1:10.40.
"We've had to squeeze his works a little bit which is obviously not the ideal scenario," Zayat said. "But with a special horse like him, hopefully we'll be able to overcome something like that."
American Pharoah's 3-year-old debut was slated to be especially intriguing as the Rebel was also supposed to feature Take Charge Brandi, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2014.
However, Take Charge Brandi's connections announced Tuesday that she would miss the race and be sidelined for 60 days because of a non-displaced chip in her right knee. With her front-running style out, American Pharoah may find himself on the lead again Saturday whether the plan calls for it or not.
"American Pharoah, he's not what everyone thinks he is, a horse who needs the lead. He can rate," Zayat said. "The reason he is always on the front is he has brilliant natural speed, that's just the way he is. He just has a higher cruising speed than the average horse.
"I would like to see him sit off a horse. I guess we'll see but I wouldn't be surprised to see him sit."
Other than American Pharoah, no other horse in the Rebel field has won a stakes race. And Baffert has made this test his own playground in recent years, winning four of the last five runnings.
A handy victory will be expected, anything less will be a shocker. Saturday's race will be his chance to remind everyone who have been wanting to see again why he is the heavy hitter.