American Pharoah: A consummate professional chases history
by Laura Pugh
The day of the 140th Preakness Stakes started out with an abundance of sun. It was a bright, warm, beautiful day. That is until 10 minutes before post time. The small promise of rain began to be fulfilled just as the field made their way onto the track and into the saddling paddock. By the time they brought the horses onto the turf course, for the jockeys to mount, the rain was coming down in torrential sheets.
The post parade began and lightning lit up the sky and loud claps of thunder rang. The wind that had been a steady breeze began to blow wildly, so much that it even ripped a trash bag away and carried it out towards the parading horses. By the time the horses reached the starting gate the previously labeled fast track, had been downgraded to the lowliest of conditions -- sloppy. Then, as the horses all loaded into the gate, awaiting them to open, a final boom of thunder rocked the stands.
None of this would deter the ultimate professional, American Pharoah. It did not bother him that he had to gun it to the lead over a sea of fetlock deep slop. It didn’t matter that he ran his opening six furlongs in splits of :22.90, :46.49, and 1.11.42, the first of which he was hounded by Mr. Z. It didn’t matter that the field rushed up to his flanks the moment jockey Victor Espinoza tried to give him a breather. Nothing mattered to American Pharoah, nothing but running.
The consummate professional won off in the end by an easy seven lengths. He skipped through the mud like he had been born half duck. Watching him saunter through the stretch, decimating a stand up group of horses, under a storm-filled sky, was nothing short of exhilarating.
It would seem that his elated trainer, Bob Baffert, felt the same way. “He’s just an incredible horse. What he does is amazing. Great horses do great things, and I think he showed that today,” he said.
Owner Amhed Zayat was also highly excited after his colt’s magnificent performance, as it brought American Pharoah one step closer to achieving Thoroughbred racing Immortality. “We could be talking about history. How could I be happier than that?,” he asked.
How could any supporter of American Pharoah be? It was indeed a superb and fabulous performance. A performance that outdid anything a screenwriter could imagine creating. Could the son of Pioneerof the Nile go on to have his name etched in with the other 11 Triple Crown winners, after 37 years? In less than three weeks, we will have our answer.