10/27/2015 5:40PM

American Pharoah arrives at Keeneland

Barbara D. Livingston
American Pharoah arrives at Keeneland on Tuesday, accompanied by John Clay, a 36-year employee of Tex Sutton equine transportation.

American Pharoah took his last flight out of California on Tuesday morning and has arrived back at his old Kentucky home, essentially for good. American Pharoah will make his last start on Saturday in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

The Tex Sutton charter flight carrying the Triple Crown winner, as well as several other Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, arrived at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport shortly before 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Following a short van ride essentially across the road, American Pharoah was bedded down in Barn 62 of Keeneland’s Rice Road stabling area, where all the Breeders’ Cup horses are housed.

Leading American Pharoah down the airplane ramp and into the waiting van on the rainy afternoon was Tex Sutton’s John Clay, who is the equine transportation company’s longest-serving employee. He has worked for the company for 36 years – nearly as long as the racing world had waited between Triple Crown winners.

Trainer Bob Baffert said that assistant Jimmy Barnes told him American Pharoah is a happy horse.

“He shipped well," said trainer Bob Baffert, who also had Grade 2 Fayette Stakes entrant Hoppertunity and stable pony Smokey on the flight. "Everybody’s happy.

"I’m sure when the cold air hit him, he probably loved that, too. Horses love that.”

Win or lose, the Classic will be American Pharoah’s final start. He will be retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., following the race. Owner Ahmed Zayat, who was on hand with his son and racing manager Justin to welcome American Pharoah to Keeneland, was emotional as he discussed the approaching end of the journey. 

“Forever I’ll be in debt for how he changed all our lives, hopefully for the better,” Zayat said.

American Pharoah completed his serious Classic preparations with a breeze Monday morning at Santa Anita. Baffert said the colt will jog on Wednesday morning at Keeneland – “Nothing too serious” – before galloping on Thursday and Friday. He does not train on race day.

Also arriving at Keeneland from California were Breeders’ Cup entrants Masochistic (Sprint), Kobe's Back (Sprint), Big Macher (Sprint), Forever Darling (Juvenile Fillies), Obviously (Mile), Right There (Juvenile Fillies), Swipe (Juvenile), and No Silent (Turf Sprint).