American Pharoah won the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 6. He is the 12th horse to win at all three tracks since Affirmed won the crown in 37 years ago 1979.
The colt was bred and owned by Ahmed Zayat and trained by Bob Baffert, who was fired and rehired shortly before the Triple Crown races. His jockey, Victor Espinoza, rode him in almost all of his races.
American Pharoah had the power to win the Triple Crown from the time he started racing. Last year, he won American Champion Two-Year-Old male horse after winning Del Mar Futurity and the Frontrunner Stakes.
His winning time at the Belmont of 2:26:65 was extremely close to Secretariat’s all-time record of 2:24. He puts his all into his races, and Baffert says that he has not seen many horses that race like him.
Usually horses with such talent, especially in racing, tend to be aggressive and difficult to handle, but Pharoah is relatively calm. He enjoys being around people and does not freak out when in large crowds.
Originally, though, Pharoah had been described as a headcase before his first start, only calming down with work in the paddock and on the track. To help with his tolerance of large crowds, his owner has him wear ear plugs to help him focus on the race better. Without them, he may not have been so successful.
As for the misspelling of his name, Zayat claims it was the Jockey Club’s mistake, but it was actually submitted that way. Pharoah was named for his sire (father), Pioneer of the Nile, and dam’s sire (mother’s father), Yankee Gentleman, during a contest in which fans submitted names. According to Zayat’s wife, the winning submission was already misspelled when copied and pasted. Both spellings of his name have been reserved so that another horse cannot have the same name.
Along with his name and temperament, Pharoah’s appearance is not entirely normal. He is a fairly normal color, a bay colt with a very faint star on his forehead, but had much of his tail chewed off by another animal. His owner explains that this is the reason for his short tail through his two-year-old and three-year-old careers.
“American Pharoah is a very beautiful horse, as well as an amazing racer. I think his owner did a very good job with him. Some owners push their horses too hard or not enough, and some just don’t know the right balance. Pharoah’s owner was perfect in the way he raised and trained him,” sophomore Leah Mifsud says.
Now that Pharoah has won the Triple Crown, many expected him to retire strictly as a stud, but he will continue to race throughout 2015. Tracks all around the country are trying to get him to race there. Minnesota race fans hope he will run at Canterbury park, and fans in New Jersey and New York hope for Monmouth and Saratoga races. However, some are concerned that continuing to race will be too stressful for the horse.
“The track can be a stressful career for a horse and I don’t believe that after winning the Triple Crown, he should be forced to continue racing,” freshman Raegan Pietruszki says.
Both his owner and trainer have said Pharoah is an athlete and should continue to race. They said that he enjoys it and there is no reason to retire a great horse at three years old. No races have been confirmed yet, but there is a good chance that American Pharoah will participate in the Breeder’s Cup.
“We are not thinking here of value or money. When the horse is ready, we will not be scared of running him to lose or not. It’s all about the fans and thus belongs to history,” Zayat said.
Pharoah’s stud fee will definitely bring in a lot of cash, though. The price per foal is looking toward $175,000 and could go up to $200,000 if he were to continue racing successfully. The annual amount his owner will gain each year could be up to $17 million, as colts can sire 100 foals a year. If his foals are successful, his fee could continue to rise even further.
“After his racing career, he’ll definitely be amazing at anything else he ends up doing,” Mifsud says.
What do you think American Pharoah should do? Continue racing or retire?