Pharwell to a champion and legend
by LAURA PUGH
If there was ever any doubt that American Pharoah would do anything less than dominate the Breeder Cup Classic, they were all erased the moment Victor Espinoza gave the magnificent champion his cue to run. He may have lost the Travers, after one of the most grueling spring and summer campaigns in recent history, but he returned with a vengeance.
Effinex, with Mike Smith aboard, did their best to put the pressure on. After an opening quarter in :23.99, he pushed American Pharoah to quicken the pace. They passed the half in :47.50 and went the six furlongs in 1:11.21, making internal splits of 23.99, 23.51, and 23.71. It was then Espinoza asked Pharoah to make his move.
Turning for home American Pharoah had opened up a four-length lead, hitting the mile marker in 1.35.47. Down the lane Espinoza made sure that American Pharoah knew that today was the day he was allowed to run. No easing him up, no winning under wraps, he let him know that he was able to put on a show, and that he did. Bounding to the wire, he stopped the timer in 2.00.07 seconds, a new course record and the second fastest in Breeders Cup Classic history.
Larry Collmus said it best “A Triple Crown winner. A Breeders Cup winner. A Horse of a Lifetime!!! American Pharoah has won the Classic over Effinex and Honor Code, in a final time of 2.00.07 seconds. He went out in style!”
Emotions were running high after the victory, for it was, in a way bittersweet as this was his final race. However, one cannot fault the Zayats, for they allowed this colt to remain in training when he could have easily retired after the Triple Crown. It was their love of the sport and its fans that made their decision to keep him in training a no brainer.
“This was all for American Pharoah. We are so happy that he ended his career on a note that he deserves,” Were the words of Justin Zayat, the racing manager of Zayat Stables.
Ahmed Zayat was a little less reserved, letting his excitement be known to the crowd. “It’s unbelievable, what a thrill. Once in a lifetime. This is all for for American Pharoah. We wanted him to go out a winner. American Pharoah is a winner. This is for America, this is for the sport.”
Bob Baffert, who did a wonderful job managing the horse through his entire campaign, from the Rebel to the Classic, was also choked up. “I said to Victor, today you get to let him go. I’m so proud of my team and thankful to Zayat for breeding him. This is for Pharoah. Just wanted him to go out the champion that he is. I’ll never have another one like him.”
After the race jockey Victor Espinoza reflected his career saying that “He (American Pharoah) might be the best one I ever rode. I will never forget him.”
After the finish, Espinoza took his time bringing American Pharoah back to the winner’s circle, parading him around in front of the grandstands. The crowed roared in approval, clamoring to get just one last look, one last shot of immortality.
American Pharoah brought so much to racing, so much that racing will never be able to fully give back. We too will miss him, and we too will never forget him. We will never forget what he gave us. Pharwell, American Pharoah.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos.