Lady and The Track | August 4, 2021

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American Pharoah Conquers Breeders’ Cup Classic

American Pharoah Conquers Breeders’ Cup Classic: Triple Crown champion American Pharoah went straight to the lead in his bid for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Keeneland. He simply stayed there and won the final start of his career.

American Pharoah Breeders' Cup Classic

American Pharoah is the first “Grand Slam” winner, which means the legendary colt won the Kentucky Derby (GI), Preakness (GI), Belmont Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year. Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

Ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah held a comfortable advantage throughout the race. At no point did he ever not look like a winner.

Effinex tried to mount an early bid on the backstretch, followed by Tonalist on the inside and Frosted between the pair. On the far turn though, American Pharoah opened up on his challengers, while Tonalist and Frosted dropped back. Surprisingly, Effinex fought on well and kept his second position. Honor Code closed late for third and Keen Ice grinded his way to fourth.

American Pharoah completed the 10 furlongs in 2:00:07.

He is the first “Grand Slam” winner, which means the legendary colt won the Kentucky Derby (GI), Preakness (GI), Belmont Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year. While previous Triple Crown winners never had the opportunity to complete such an accomplishment (the Breeders’ Cup Classic began in 1984), it is still a noteworthy feat nonetheless, and one that future Triple Crown winners will aspire to achieve.

Espinoza, trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat spoke to the press after the win.

“We’ve been very privileged,” the elder Zayat said. “We owe American Pharoah everything.”

“It was extremely emotional.”

Baffert then spoke, and started to tear up towards the end of his speech.

“When he’s right, you saw what he can do,” Baffert said. “It’s been a privilege to watch him train. He gave everyone what they came to see.”

“He’s probably the greatest horse I’ll ever be involved with. He is a gift from God.”

Espinoza discussed the lack of an eventful trip.

“Turning for home … I was gone,” Espinoza said.

What is the secret to American Pharoah’s success?

“His mechanics are completely different than any other horse I’ve ever had,” Baffert explained.

Everyone in the press room sat or stood in awe of American Pharoah and his accomplishments, including trainer D. Wayne Lukas who was present and congratulated Baffert on his win.

Will American Pharoah appear for his fans in the morning?

“I’m going to be charging $100 to come see him,” Baffert joked. “I’m going to milk this for all I can.”

The other competitors just seemed happy to be within range of the winner. In a later press release, Effinex’s rider Mike Smith revealed his thoughts turning for home.

“Once we hit the 3/8 pole I thought ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic. Maybe we can hold on for second,” Smith hoped.

Honor Code’s rider Javier Castellano felt helpless because of his runner’s riding style and the lack of stronger early speed up front.

“Unfortunately, the way the race unfolded, there was no pace at all,” Castellano said. “Unfortunately, you can’t do anything. You have to go with the flow, you have ride the best you can, and hope that he showed up, and he did.”

At the end of the Breeders’ Cup Classic press conference, there was a toast and the entire American Pharoah entourage came on stage. Espinoza wore the winning flower blanket and everyone gave cheers to an excellent win.

Horses such as American Pharoah only come once in a while. While more special horses may come eventually, this one will be remembered forever.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2015 Replay: