American Pharoah, the three-year-old thoroughbred star who has captured the hearts of racing and non-racing fans alike may spend part of his summer at the Jersey Shore.
It’s expected, but not yet officially announced, that Pharoah, the Triple Crown winner will race in the Haskell Invitational on August 2 at Monmouth Park and since word of the superstar’s anticipated appearance travelled fast, the reserved seats at the race are already sold out. More than 90,000 people on June 6 saw the horse win the mile-and-a half Belmont stakes by five lengths to capture the first Triple Crown in 37 years. Some 60,000 people could pack Monmouth Park to watch American Pharoah at the Haskell with potential attendance and betting records set.
Trainer Baffert is certainly no stranger to Monmouth Park. He has won four of the last five Haskell Invitational events and his horses always seem to run well at the Jersey shore. He won the Haskell in 2001 with Point Given; 2002 with War Emblem; 2005 with Roman Ruler; 2010-2012 with Lookin at Lucky, Coil and Paynter and with Bayern last year.
American Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat, an Egyptian-American who lives in Hackensack, indicated in interviews after the Belmont that he would like the horse to compete for the remainder of the 2015 season before standing at stud in Kentucky. Stud fees are expected to be $75,000 or even higher depending on how American Pharoah finishes in the Haskell and Breeders’ Cup.
Monmouth Park announcer Frank Mirahmadi who called American Pharoah’s wins at the Rebel and Arkansas Derby during the lead up to the Kentucky Derby this spring says American Pharoah is a “super horse” and he would have been very surprised if he were upset at the Belmont.
Mirahmadi predicted, even before the Belmont victory, that American Pharoah would race at the Haskell as the timing seemed right. What Mirahmadi along with other thoroughbred handicappers like to talk about is the rest period trainers like to have for horses between big races.
The time between the Haskell and Saratoga (NY) Race Track’s classic Grade 1 Travers stakes Aug. 29, is four weeks. From the Travers to the Breeders’ Cup events at Keenland in Lexington, Kentucky, Halloween weekend is nine weeks giving the Triple Crown winner time to recover if he races in both events as did Baffert’s 2014 Haskell winner Bayern.
In 2014, Bayern went on to win Travers at Saratoga in late August as well as the Breeders’ Cup Classic in late October over Toast of New York and former Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome.
At Keenland – site of this year Breeders’ Cup events – American Pharoah would face the best of the best including older, more experienced thoroughbreds, in the Cup’s Classic, the event’s premiere race.
The potential downside of American Pharoah continuing to race is the chance of injury or a loss in any of his final races, either of which would have an affect on his second career in stud.
– By Art Petrosemolo
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