NEW YORK (AP) — Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh will get another chance to race before being retired, with the goal the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic next month.
Owner Ahmed Zayat said Thursday that racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 37 years remains in top form after his loss to Keen Ice in the Travers following eight straight victories.
“The champ deserves another chance!” Zayat tweeted.
After the Travers, an emotional Zayat was leaning against running again. He said his “gut feeling” was retirement.
But after a four-hour meeting with trainer Bob Baffert, assistant Jimmy Barnes, jockey Victor Espinoza and his son and racing manager Justin Zayat, the owner decided to move forward.
“I have discussed all aspects of American Pharoah’s race last Saturday in the Travers — and his condition since the race — with our whole team,” Zayat said in a statement. He is now pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
After the Travers, which drew a sellout crowd of 50,000 to Saratoga Race Course, plus 15,000 to watch a morning gallop, American Pharaoh traveled back to his home base at Del Mar Racetrack in California.
He is scheduled to be paraded for the fans at the track this weekend, and then move to Santa Anita to resume training. There’s also a chance he could travel to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky for training in the weeks leading to the Classic at nearby Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
There’s also a chance for a race before the Classic, but the call would be up to Baffert.
“I am very confident that this is the right decision for American Pharoah. He loves to race.
He has provided my family, racing fans, and general sports fans with great thrills this year,” Zayat said. “He won the Triple Crown earlier this year, and he deserves the chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event.”
American Pharoah’s breeding rights were sold to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud for an unknown fee, likely in the tens of millions of dollars. Since the horse is still racing, a stud fee has not been announced.
American Pharoah has won eight of 10 races and earned nearly $6 million. The loss in the Travers was his first since Aug. 9, 2014 in his first career start.
The son of Pioneerof the Nile won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey on Aug. 2 in his first race since sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.