American Pharoah: Life after the Triple Crown

  American Pharoah, far right, after his muddy Preakness win

American Pharoah, far right, after his muddy Preakness win

So what’s next for the champ? The Pharoah has gone back to his home base, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, for a breather. But he may soon be back in our area.

Trainer Bob Baffert has said he’ll run two or three more times this year, possibly at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Aug. 2 and the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in New York Aug. 29. The ultimate goal, though, is the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in October where he could meet up with our old friend California Chrome.

It’s so exciting to watch a 4-year-old like Chrome take on a 3-year-old like the Pharoah. I remember a 4-year-old Seattle Slew beating a 3-year-old Affirmed twice in the only battles of former Triple Crown winners. But then a 4-year-old Affirmed beat a 3-year-old Spectacular Bid, who should’ve won the Crown in 1979, the year after Affirmed. The superiority of a 4-year-old racehorse to a 3-year-old is sort of like Roger Federer in his prime taking on a teenage Novak Djokovic. It’s no contest. Still the Pharoah might take Chrome.

Of course, with any great achievement like the Crown comes the Monday-morning jockeying. Will the Pharoah race as a 4 year old, even though owner Ahmed Zayat has sold the stud rights to Coolmore Ashford Stud for a cool $14 million? Zayat, who has said this is for the sport, hasn’t ruled it out.

But then, if he continues to race, could AP be injured? And then what would become of him?

For now, let’s just enjoy the moment.