09/03/2015 10:16AM

American Pharoah points to Breeders' Cup Classic

Justin N. Lane
American Pharoah will remain in training and target the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

DEL MAR, Calif. – With the belief that American Pharoah “deserves the chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event,” his owner and breeder, Ahmed Zayat, confirmed Thursday that American Pharoah would remain in training and point to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, mirroring the comments trainer Bob Baffert made 48 hours earlier.

While Baffert came around sooner that Zayat, the final call was, ultimately, up to Zayat, who in the immediate aftermath of American Pharoah’s loss in the Travers Stakes last Saturday at Saratoga said he was leaning “60-40” toward retirement.

Zayat on Thursday said he had lengthy discussions with Baffert, his son Justin Zayat – who manages his racing stable – assistant trainer Jim Barnes, and jockey Victor Espinoza over the past several days, most notably a four-hour powwow with Baffert on Tuesday afternoon.

“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 and have decided American Pharoah deserves another chance, so we are pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Zayat said Thursday morning.

“I am very confident in my decision. Not a moment has gone by since the race on Saturday when I have not thought about this decision. My initial concern right after the race was about American Pharoah’s condition, because he did not run his ‘A’ race. He has come out of the race in great shape. And after examining all the evidence and talking it over with our team – Bob Baffert, my son Justin, Jimmy Barnes, and Victor Espinoza – I believe there were a combination of factors that prevented American Pharoah from running his absolute best on Saturday. I have every confidence that he can run to his best again, and he deserves the chance to do so.

“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. He won the Triple Crown earlier this year, and he deserves the chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event.”

The Breeders’ Cup Classic will be run Oct. 31 at Keeneland. That will be American Pharoah’s final race before he goes to stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

American Pharoah is currently at Del Mar, where he has been based all summer for training before and after starts in the Haskell at Monmouth and the Travers. He is scheduled to go to Santa Anita next Tuesday, the day after Del Mar’s meeting ends.

However, Zayat said he had discussed with Baffert the possibility of sending American Pharoah to Churchill Downs in the next fortnight to do his training there in advance of the Breeders’ Cup. While that is not a finalized plan, it is definitely under serious consideration.

American Pharoah was based at Churchill Downs following his win in the Arkansas Derby in April and trained there for nearly two months in advance of his wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, which made him the sport’s 12th Triple Crown winner.

Michael Parente More than 1 year ago
Fitness,fitness.fitness Bobby get him to the highest level of fitness possible and he to will (Move like a tremendous machine) Go American Pharoah Go!!!! Michael Parente Ballston Spa,NY
Stevie Barnyard More than 1 year ago
Keen Ice has Pharoah's number - bring it on!! And don't forget Dortmund. If he trains separately this fall, unlike in the spring when his work at Santa Anita looked like schooling to follow Pharoah, he will be trouble. Pharoah is remarkable for his personality and poise. He is not a horse-god. I wonder if anyone has considered what is best for him? He doesn't care about the $$$$.
Rob Dybas More than 1 year ago
I read in the newsletter, Indian Charlie, that AP galloped a Mile and a half in 2:28, the day before The Travers. If this is True, then he basically ran 2 races in 2 days. 2:28 would be an Excellent time for a real race. No wonder he lost. Also, he Was in a drive from the start of the far turn, until the finish. And he only lost by less than a length. I belief he is still a remarkable horse.
MarshallDil More than 1 year ago
sure hope the B Cup treats the Pharoah better than the Travers, better known as the graveyard of champions. I was at the Travers and withnessed the Pharoah basically running out of gas as he rounded the Top of the Stretch. Even with his loss of the Travers, the Pharoah will always retain his Triple Crown.
Michael White More than 1 year ago
He's truly a special horse, maybe not a horse God as another commented he's not, but has more confidence, calmness, an a loving support of young and old. He will be victorious if Victor just lets him get into his lopping restful stride to make his stretch run. No one will be in front, I'm confident with that just as long as no major gate or significant bump upset a good competetive start! Going to race and will be watching closely how he reacts to his elders. Unlikely they will concern him since he is there for his supports and not competing one to one with other horses. I have not seen that side of him that many at this level have. Good luck to him and all his supporters!
r More than 1 year ago
should be an exciting race...AP, Beholder, Honor Code, and possible Liam's Map. Awesome...bring it on...
Bill Keating More than 1 year ago
I love it when the handlers of a horse say that the horse "deserves the chance to face older horses", or "I'd be letting the horse down if I put him in such a difficult spot." Did they grow up watching too many reruns of "Mr. Ed?" American Pharoah loves to run and can't read his past performances.
ChrysLongAgo More than 1 year ago
The owner is still nursing a bruised ego, which could have been avoided if he had let the trainer campaign the stable instead of his son. In the old days, the race trackers trained the horses. Maybe the Zayats should get their own trainers licenses? No disrespect intended.
Len More than 1 year ago
Geez people the horse ran a good race and came in second. It's not the end of the world.
Mike Windsor More than 1 year ago
I'm not gonna turn on Pharoah like I see most people doing. Go ahead and bash him and his connections all ya want you bunch of a$$holes. You wonder why no one sticks around as fans of racing. Such a negative bunch, always quick to judge, always right. Always right, never wrong. Just an angry bunch of turds.
Marc Rogala More than 1 year ago
clueless owner and trainer
Michael More than 1 year ago
another armchair trainer who doesn't have a clue. Do you have any clue about training or owning. Every horse can have a bad day and as Victor said the jockey on frosted didn't try to win the race he just wanted AP beaten bumping pushing the entire race. It is amazing AP ran second. Reminds me of winning colors and what pat day on forty miner did in business. AP had his worst day they all do get over it
Brian Applegate More than 1 year ago