10/31/2015 7:39PM

American Pharoah goes out a winner in Breeders' Cup Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, wins the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday in the final start of his career.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – They had won the Triple Crown and now had just seen American Pharoah go out a winner in his career finale in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert, who had been an emotional wreck much of the week, stepped onto the sandy loam of Keeneland as Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah’s jockey, brought the bay colt to a halt just outside the winner’s circle.

Baffert reached up toward Espinoza, who was perched high in the saddle.

“We’ll never have another son of a bitch like this,” he said, as both men laughed and smiled, because they knew it was true, and that it was over.

So often in racing there is great disappointment, with expectations seemingly beyond reality, and yet twice this year, American Pharoah delivered when it most counted.

The first came on June 6, when he became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown, a deafening roar bringing him to the finish at Belmont Park. And then on Saturday at Keeneland, in the heart of this nation’s horse country, American Pharoah gave the fans just what they wanted, a final, satisfying way to remember him before he begins his new life as a stallion, and the cheers as he came to the wire could almost be heard up in Elmont.

“He gave everyone what they wanted to see,” Baffert said.

American Pharoah ($3.40), the odds-on favorite, shot to the front and never looked back. His high cruising speed on full display, American Pharoah led his seven rivals on a futile chase throughout the 1 1/4 miles and widened through the lane to win by 6 1/2 lengths, with Espinoza turning 90 degrees to the right at the finish line to smile for the camera and wave his whip in triumph.

Effinex, at 33-1 the second-longest shot in the race, was closest to American Pharoah throughout and safely held second by 4 1/2 lengths over Honor Code, who rallied from last to finish third. Behind them came Keen Ice – the conqueror of American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes – then Tonalist, Hard Aces, Frosted, and Gleneagles.

Beholder had been scratched on Thursday, and Smooth Roller was scratched by the veterinarian on Saturday morning, leaving a field of eight.

American Pharoah completed the 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track in 2:00.07 after clicking off fractions of 23.99 seconds for the quarter, 47.50 for the half, 1:11.21 for six furlongs, and 1:35.47 for one mile.

The win was his ninth in 11 starts – his lone losses coming in his debut and in his prior start, the Travers – and the $2.75 million first prize increased his lifetime earnings to $8,675,300 for his owners and breeders, the Zayat Stables LLC of Ahmed Zayat and his son and racing manager, Justin.

Baffert had desperately wanted a satisfying end to American Pharoah’s career after losing the Travers. His first few works back after that race were good, but over the past three weeks, American Pharoah had trained with sheer brilliance.

“He was doing so well,” said Baffert, who instructed Espinoza to “let him roll,” knowing there was no reason to save anything for another race.

“I bounced out of there and let him run,” Espinoza said. “I didn’t want to take any chance of anybody getting close to me.”

Baffert had been in a joking mood much of the week owing to his confidence in how American Pharoah was doing, but every time a question was offered about this being American Pharoah’s final start before heading to the breeding shed, the reality would hit him.

“I’m a little emotional,” Baffert said in the paddock. “It’s been a privilege to train a horse like this. I just want him to put on a show.”

That he did.

“When he’s right, you can see what he can do,” Baffert said after the race. “It’s been a privilege to train him, watch him train, watch him breeze. He’s probably the greatest horse I’ll ever be involved with.”

When Espinoza first got American Pharoah pulled up after the race, he told the outrider he wanted to take American Pharoah up the stretch for a curtain call, much as he did after the Belmont Stakes. But by the time he returned to the homestretch, a phalanx of photographers and security officers was across the track at the sixteenth pole, near the finish line, making an impenetrable border.

Blocked from his intended path, Espinoza circled back with American Pharoah and came back toward the finish line, then looped around again to the winner’s circle, taking in the adulation, something everyone connected with the horse desired the fans to see.

“We wanted him to go out a winner,” Ahmed Zayat said. “He’s the most brilliant horse I’ve seen in my life. He is just a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

In the 11 races American Pharoah competed in, he ran in Grade 1 races nine times. This year, he had two preps before the Triple Crown, won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont, then ran in the biggest 3-year-old races of the summer, the Haskell and Travers, prior to the Breeders’ Cup. For each of those last three races, he had to fly directly from his base in California, something he had done for his two Derby preps in Arkansas, too.

“You can’t be afraid to run in these big races,” Baffert said. “We never put him away. He was ready for all challenges. He takes his track with him. He ships, flies everywhere.

“He’s going to be a tough act to follow,” Baffert said. “I’m just glad Pharoah goes out the champ he is.”


Ammy Taylor More than 1 year ago
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Tim More than 1 year ago
Lose the spam
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
My DRF + subscription is now "over." Thanks Jay, you made my decision simple by censoring me. There is nothing more frustrating than censorship by a media company.
Richard More than 1 year ago
Rich, greedy, owners can't wait to ship Champ AP to breeding shed. It's like retiring Babe Ruth after his rookie year. One of Thoroughbred Racing's major flaws, retiring it's stars before they reach full maturity at age 5. Bob had to be "politically correct," by not saying this, but I don't. Owners of Spectacular Bid, Affirmed, and Seattle Slew, let their champs have a 4 year old campaign. Zayat is similar to Penny Chenery retiring Secretariat after his 3 year old campaign. Disgraceful and bad for the sport. - Racetrack Rik
Ian Douglas More than 1 year ago
It's amazing that you spent the time to write this dreadful story on every AP story. Get a life!
mike More than 1 year ago
Richard,get a clue! If I owned him i wouldn't spend ONE MINUTE worrying over what a fan thinks regarding retiring or not retiring AP.
Shirley Ragsdale More than 1 year ago
Great piece of writing. Thank you for capturing the moment and American Pharoah's finale so beautifully
James G Romano More than 1 year ago
Great win, finish, closure ! Enjoy your stud duties,lucky guy! No questions or doubts left !
James G Romano More than 1 year ago
One last ?? Did Andy Beyer pick him ,or not ?,,and why was this paper`s,DRF handicapper missing at the second half of the NBC televised program after picking a winning horse at good odd$ ???He was the ONLY legit 'handicapper' !!!
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
What needs to be moderated from what I wrote? If you didn't "moderate" last night, why start today? I would have Copied/Pasted and saved what I wrote (for my own sake) had I known this was going to happen. This is but one of my "issues" with DRF + and paying for the privilege of censorship.
Richard More than 1 year ago
A SUPERIOR performance byAP !! He took that field to school. AP should have had, at the very least, a 4 year old Campaign. - Racetrack Rik
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
This was a great win for American Pharoah, however, as big as this should be, this entire Breeders' Cup is going to wind up being completely overshadowed by something neither the Zayats, Keeneland or BC Ltd. could control: The Mets making the World Series and as a result, there being FAR LESS media coverage than there should have been for this historic grand slam (first horse to win the Triple Crown AND the BC Classic. In New York, even the Jets and Giants, who usually by now DOMINATE sports talk radio discussion were being close to completely squeezed out by the Mets, and if the NFL (the 800-pound gorilla of sports) is being squeezed like that, then you better believe the BC is getting close to no coverage at all. For that reason, if I owned AP, he would now come back in the Clark (a Grade 1, $500,000 race that actually has a history as far back as the Kentucky Derby goes) on "Black Friday" (Nov. 27) provided Churchill Downs did two things: Lengthen the race to 1 1/4 Miles AND run that program as a "Downs After Dark" card with the Clark going off no earlier than 8:00 PM ET and preferably after 10:00 PM ET to best assure network TV coverage on NBC (as 10:00 PM ET means 7:00 PM PT and the race at the beginning of prime time on the west coast and the start of prime time in the east). While there is a lot of college football and basketball that weekend, that Friday does NOT have the big rivalry games (except for Baylor-TCU) that Saturday does and a finale at Churchill on Thanksgiving weekend likely gets the kind of mainstream media coverage the Zayats were looking for with the BC Classic in the US they are not going to get that they should have due to circumstances they could not control as NO ONE could have realistically anticipated this World Series AMBUSHING the Breeders' Cup because of the Mets making it (while the Cubs would have likely also done this, it would not have been to the degree it has been with the Mets being in the WS with little-to-no coverage of the BC in the mainstream media).
Don Soucy More than 1 year ago
Man the night racing thing is getting tired.. Broken - meet Record
David Crossley More than 1 year ago
And the Mets are being closed to being squeezed out--by themselves.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
That is true about the Mets, but what you are likely mostly hearing on WFAN and 98.7 ESPN in New York is nearly non-stop Mets talk with a little Jets and Giants mixed in. Normally, the Jets and Giants DOMINATE sports talk radio in New York and while there usually is World Series talk, even when the Yankees are in the Fall Classic the sports talk is NOTHING like it is been during this World Series for the Mets, enough to throw the NFL, even with two teams currently holding down playoff spots as they are to the backburner (and that NEVER happens with the NFL). Where do you think the BC media is, even with AP in the Classic? This is why I bring AP back in the Clark so gets a prime-time sendoff in front of likely 80,000 at Churchill that likely would get the kind of coverage this BC Classic SHOULD have gotten, but was stolen by the Mets.
Richard More than 1 year ago
A shame to retire him. Like retiring Ali after his 1st championship, or Mike Trout, after his rookie year. - Racetrack Rik
ed More than 1 year ago
Who are the Mets? Were they in the sprint? Sorry Walt, rest of the country don't care about them.
Marc Rogala More than 1 year ago
we wagered around $3200.00 for the two day meet and had a GREAT time. We crushed them friday and DESTROYED them on Saturday. Here are the hits for the two days showing a profit of around $1,300! I had the winner in every pick-6 race (as I hit the rolling pk-3 from the 5th race thru the 11th race as well as all the daily doubles), the ticket cost for $1 would have cost me $2,160.00 but the return was $47,212.20 FRIDAY $30 win $20 place 3rd race – EARLY ENTRY - WINNER $32.60 - $13.40 - $8.00 = $573.00 4th race – TWEET KITTEN - WINNER $34.80 - $12.60 - $8.20 = $598.00 5th race – RACE DAY - WINNER $10.60 - $5.20 - $4.40 = $161.00 7th race – LEA ran 2nd $4.20 $2 daily double 6th race – 5/6/7/9/12/14 over 3/5/11 - WINNER $28.40 $1.00 exacta box 7th race – 3/5/11 - WINNER $6.10 SATURDAY’S PLAY’S $30 win - $20 place 6th race - STEPHANIE'S KITTEN winner $17.60 $5.40 $3.60 = $318.00 9th race - SWIPE ran 2nd $25.00 $13.00 = $250.00 $2 D/D wins 5/6th race - 4/5/11/13 - 1/3/6/7/8/11 winning d/d $259.40 6/7th race - 4/5/13- 1/3/6/7/8/11 winning d/d $62.20 7/8th race - 1/3/6/7/8/11 - 2/10/12/13/15 winning d/d $38.60 8/9th race - 2/10/12/13/15 - 3/4/7/9/11 winning d/d $79.20 9/10th race - 2/10/12/13/15 - 3/4/7/9/11 winning d/d $165.20 10/11th race 3/4/7/9/11 - 4 winning d/d $45.60 $.50 PK-3 5/6/7 race - 5/7/11/12/14 - 4/5/11/13 - 4/5/13 winner $258.10 6/7/8 race - 4/5/11/13 - 4/5/13 - 1/3/6/7/8/11 winner $119.55 7/8/9 race - 4/5/13 - 1/3/6/7/8/11 - 2/10/12/13/15 winner $66.20 8/9/10 race - 1/3/6/7/8/11 - 2/10/12/13/15 - 3/4/7/9/11 winner $190.80 9/10/11 race - 2/10/12/13/15 - 3/4/7/9/11 - 4 winner $113.25 $1 exacta box 5th race - 5/7/11/12/14 winner $12.20 9th race - 2/10/12/13/15 winner $95.70 $0.50 pick-4 8/9/10/11th race - 1/3/6/7/8/11- 2/10/12/13/15 - 3/4/7/9/11/ - 4 - winner $765.00
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
But I have an Uncle in the carpet business.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
That is simply amazing.
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
Don't tell your wife... she'll want her "cut" as well.
Carson Horton More than 1 year ago
Let's see, if you had the winner of every P6 race then you should have cashed a $24,000 P6 ticket on Friday, not counting all those 5 out of 6 consolations you would have had and you should have wheeled it right back on Saturday and hit the P6 for another $47K plus a handful of consolations. That would have been $71,000-plus just from the P6 winnings. I didn't play the P6 on Friday but I did get 5 out of 6 on Saturday with a $96 ticket and my total handle for the two days was just under $500. Had I bet $3,200 I definitely would have had the Saturday P6 as my fourth choice won the race that I lost. So if I had doubled my bet size I would have hit it. If I'm going to send $3,200 through the windows on BC weekend I'm looking for a return better than 50 cents on the dollar.
Chas More than 1 year ago
Another who boasts 'after the fact' about how they made $$$ at the track...the 'real ones' post their plays before the races and then let the results do the speaking for themselves!
Robert More than 1 year ago
No one. Read this !!!! No one destroys horse racing.
Darrell Peck More than 1 year ago
Really Marc nobody really cares how you did after the races are over. For someone to post and boast about their winnings is as childish as can be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had an amazing day also,,,,, 5 of 6 in Sat. P6 $335 Hit 5 Trifecta's for $1296.80two P4's with a total payout of ......$840.20 The same P4 that you did, but twice'''''$1530... The final P4 for $1246.80 $60 to win 0n the 1st race winner $540 Fri. hit 2 Pick 4's for a total of $840.20 Hit a $10 exacta in the 3rd for $922 Total wagers : $2975.50
James G Romano More than 1 year ago
I thought that this guy was 'gonna' give Seven Sure winners [or the next decade picks are free] for a price!! No body cares about what you wrote,,Even if it was true! No one believes gamblers ,Especially other gamblers. But all of those numbers,,could they be played for the next Mega ball or Power Ball? Any 'guarantees' that they will come out ?,,Of course Before they`ll Extracted,Not the morning after ,,,Adults should not waste time nd space with this asinine stuff..like one of my favorite horse writers wrote: No matter which winning angle you find,no one will believe you because they know that you`re a loser,,like they have been before you. Mitchell.RIP ! Watch 'Lemon Drop Kid' or another horse gambling movie,,,it`a a fantasy ! Nothin more,
Frank More than 1 year ago
I did even bettor -- I won every race and all the pick sixes. I won near 3.2million in bets. Marc you are a tiny little guy...
ed More than 1 year ago
I bet he had the Mets too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!