That’s horse racing! This is a sentence all too well known, often used and in many ways. Usually it alludes to an upset or a disappointment or karma. And, we all say there can only be one winner. On Saturday, Aug. 29 American Pharoah ran in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and it was a case of ‘That’s horse racing.’ Nothing is ever set in stone in racing and so it was in the Travers. The beloved Triple Crown winner did not get the win this time – Keen Ice came from behind, swooped up an upset victory in a superb move by his jockey as the horses were nearing the wire. Pharoah’s win became a second. Sitting on the sidelines, watching, it almost seemed as though team Pharoah was not aware of the danger barreling down on them, and the rush caught them off guard in the last seconds.
And so the Travers Stakes of 2015 goes down in the annals of history. American Pharoah made his bid to become the second Triple Crown winner to bring home a victory in the Travers since Whirlaway’s accomplishment in 1941 and did not succeed. Undoubtedly this was a disappointment for his connections, but let’s face it. American Pharoah is still the amazing, brilliant race horse who has done so much for this year’s horse racing excitement and his staunch fans. He is a beloved horse, full of promise and magnificence and has captured the hearts of the public.
Credit must be given for the savvy race run by Donnegal Racing-owned Keen Ice. Trained by Dale Romans, Keen Ice is a three-year-old colt by Curlin out of Medomak by Awesome Again. The total take of the Grade I Travers Stakes was $1.6 million. Keen Ice paid $34 for the win.
The Travers horses all broke well and American Pharoah pushed ahead, seemingly primed to grab the victory. Frosted and Pharoah pressed each other along the trip and Frosted even drew up to Pharoah who shook him off for the lead. But then along came Keen Ice to make his own place in Travers history with his rider Javier Castellano and their Travers win. The lead horses crossed the wire Keen Ice first, American Pharoah second, Frosted third.
Keen Ice has started 11 times, won two races and finished four times in second or third. He was second in the Haskell Stakes and back in third in the Belmont Stakes.
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah ran fifth in his first race last year and then all other races were wins until the Travers second. Pharoah’s jockey who rides the horse regularly, said, “He’s OK,” Maybe it was just a little too much for him those three weeks, flying back and forth. He was running pretty comfortable there, but not like he used to. By the half-mile pole I knew I was in trouble.”
Bob Baffert is not certain at the moment what is next for American Pharoah. The horse will be thoroughly checked out to see how this race stressed him. Baffert explained,
I feel bad for the horse, getting beat like that. Just listening to Victor, you can just tell, he wasn’t on his A-game today. He tried hard, he looked like he was done way early and he kept fighting on. The winner ran a great race. Pharoah, he dug in today…he didn’t bring his A-game.
Owner Ahmed Zayat said in the post-race press conference that his gut feeling was to retire the colt.
And that truly is horse racing!