A crowd of 50,155 attended the Breeders’ Cup Saturday at Keeneland on Oct. 31, 2015, to watch history unfold. The phenomenal Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, stormed down the track in the Grade 1 $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his final start in his brilliant racing career. The three-year-old American Pharoah, the only Triple Crown winner to race in a Breeders’ Cup Classic, convincingly won the race. After this win in the Classic, American Pharoah can now close the racing chapter of his life where he has nothing more to prove. He gave his owner Ahmed Zayat and his trainer Bob Baffert nine victories in eleven starts, and a whole lot of big dollars to go with those wins.
The talented son of Pioneer of the Nile out of LittlePrincessEmma by Yankee Gentleman is a Zayat homebred. He is now primed for retirement and will pursue his new career as a breeding stallion at Ashford Stud.
The sentimental 3-5 favorite American Pharoah, wearing his usual ear plugs to muffle any startling sounds, broke well out of the gate and grabbed the lead, held it throughout the race, and pulled away from the others, opening up a final 6-1/2 length lead across the wire. America’s hero horse, who at long last swept the Triple Crown after 30-some years without a winner, ran the 1-1/4 miles Breeders’ Cup Classic in track record 2:00.07. Pharoah paid $3.40, $3 and $2.40. Fans could not get enough of the horse and surged 20-deep along the length of the rail to cheer, snap pictures and get a glimpse of him and rider Victor Espinoza.
Baffert was immensely pleased with American Pharoah. He is understandably proud of the horse and relieved that he was victorious. Baffert was down on himself after Pharoah’s loss in the Travers. He said, “It has been a privilege to train this horse. It’s tough to win a Breeders’ Cup; you’d better come with a good horse. I am so proud of him. This is the greatest horse I’ll ever see. He is a champion. I am so glad that American Pharoah goes out the champion he is. We’re all going to miss him.”
It was the first win for Zayat in the Breeders’ Cup and he was elated. The horse has continued to amaze him. Says Zayat:
What can I say? What a horse! He is the most brilliant horse I have ever seen. We are so appreciate to have him and we owe American Pharoah everything. He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. This race was only about American Pharoah and we wanted him to go out a winner. He runs with his heart and he is brilliantly fast. This was an incredible thrill. It was so emotional.
Espinoza knew this was American Pharoah’s last race and the win in the Classic is bittersweet. He said, “American Pharoah was the best horse I have ever ridden. This time he felt like the American Pharoah from the Triple Crown and not the Travers.”
The Classic goes into racing history with American Pharoah winning, Effinex second, Honor Code third and Keen Ice fourth. Then it was Tonalist, Hard Aces, Frosted, and Gleneagles. Withdrawn horses were Smooth Roller and Beholder.
Zayat and Baffert want American Pharoah to “go out in a way that is appropriate for both this sport and for his fans and for him.” American Pharoah’s retirement is being planned by his connections to pay tribute to such a special animal.
And for American Pharoah, it is now full steam ahead to the breeding shed and the lady horses.