Having already claimed the Triple Crown, one would think American Pharoah and his connections would have called it a career and rested on the laurels no one’s been afforded for the last 37 years.
But the three-year-old Pioneer of the Nile colt will gallop around the track one more time in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday, Oct. 31, at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
With jockey Victor Espinoza aboard, American Pharoah enters the 1 1/4-mile race as a heavy favorite (13/10), but he will have to fend off two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Beholder and Keen Ice, who claimed the only victory over him this year at the Travers back on Aug. 29.
At 3/1 Beholder stands as American Pharoah’s biggest threat with Honor Code next up at 4/1, according to the latest odds from Sportsbook.ag. Tied with 45/1 longshot Hard Aces with 20 starts, Beholder’s won six straight and has finished no lower than fourth throughout his career.
Trained by 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Claude R. McGaughey III, Honor Code's faced a multitude of tests since he began racing two years ago. He finished second at the Grade 1 Champagne, just the second race of his career, and on Aug. 8 he beat out third-place Tonalist for a victory at the G1 Whitney in Saratoga.
The expected 10-contender field also includes 2014 Belmont Stakes victor Tonalist, and Frosted, who challenged American Pharoah for much of the Travers to finish third and has two Grade 1 wins under his saddle this year.
If there’s any concern about potential track rust because he hasn’t raced since the Travers, American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert increased his workload Tuesday and he responded with a solid 1:10.80 run over six furlongs at Santa Anita.
“He did it the right way,” Baffert said to Daily Racing Form. “He’s going to have to run hard. The Breeders’ Cup will be pedal to the metal from the gate.”
Odds to Win Breeders Cup Classic
American Pharoah 13/10
Honor Code 4/1
Keen Ice 8/1
Hard Aces 45/1