As if claiming the first Triple Crown in 37 years wasn’t enough, American Pharoah’s owner intends to race the champion 3-year-old bay colt through the end of the year. American Pharoah landed his name in history books as the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown after a 5 1/2-length victory in the 147th Belmont Stakes Saturday. Now, owner Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables says he wants to give fans as much of the champion as possible.
Zayat announced the sale of American Pharoah’s breeding rights to Coolmore Ashford Stud after his 7-length victory at the Preakness Stakes last month, but the global stud and breeding firm has no say in American Pharoah’s racing career and only takes control after he’s retired.
Zayat said money isn’t playing a major role in the decision, though American Pharoah’s earned $4.5 million in winnings over his eight career races. “It is my genuine desire, as someone who loves horses, as a fan, to race him as long as I possibly could,” Zayat said to The New York Times. “At least — at least — until he finishes as a 3-year-old. I take this very responsibly. I think it’s a huge, huge honor and privilege, and we owe it to the sport to do the right thing.”
Zayat also said that trainer Bob Baffert will ultimately decide when and where American Pharoah continues his career. Four races are possibilities, according to ESPN, but the earliest anyone will see American Pharoah on the track is August. There’s the Jim Dandy at Saratoga in New York on Aug. 1, the Haskell Invitational in Monmouth, New Jersey on Aug. 2, followed by the Pacific Classic in Del Mar, California on Aug. 22 and the Travers, also in Saratoga on Aug. 29.
"He's an athlete. We have to keep him moving,'' Baffert said to ESPN. "He's so happy when he's on that track.'' Baffert’s won the Haskell a record seven times, which could make it the most likely, while the Pacific Classic may be too long a trip.
However, the real prize -- and the most prestigious race in the sport -- is the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Held at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, the 1 1/4-mile race is Oct. 31 and has a $5 million purse on the line.
As the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, American Pharoah figures to be one of the most desired stallions in the world after he’s put out to stud. But should any unforeseen complications occur during future races, Zayat reportedly has a lucrative insurance policy.
It’s also common for a champion horse to continue its career as a 4-year-old, and for many, their value on the stud market is not effected. Affirmed ran 13 more races, winning eight, through October 1979. Before him, 1977 Triple Crown victor Seattle Slew hit the track eight more times and became one of the best producers in the country.
"We are not thinking here of value or money,'' Zayat said. “When the horse is ready, we will not be scared of running him to lose or not. It's all about the fans, and this belongs to history.''