Owner Ahmed Zayat announced Thursday morning that he has decided to keep Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in training despite the second-place finish in last weekend’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
“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 in a statement released to ESPN.com and Daily Racing Form‘s Jay Privman.
The loss in the Travers makes American Pharoah the fourth Triple Crown winner to be defeated at Saratoga Springs and joins the ranks of Gallant Fox, Secretariat, and Affirmed. We’ve known for some time that there were plans to retire American Pharoah at the end of 2015, but the latest performance had many wondering if owner Ahmed Zayat will retire early.
“My gut feeling right now is to retire him,” Zayat told The Guardian initially following the loss. The disappointment of the crushingly close defeat coupled with the grueling competitive schedule during the past several months had many questioning whether the horse would race again before the year is through.
With a clear favorite no longer in the mix, racing enthusiasts are finding themselves at a loss as they begin predicting the odds for the races that will round out the year. Fans now unsure of the smart bets for the upcoming races can check out Betfair’s site to find more information on the upcoming Breeders’ Cup in addition to many other races and market movers.
We still don’t know if American Pharoah would be given a prep race before the Breeders’ Cup. Zayat said Bob Baffert (trainer) would monitor the his progress in the coming weeks before plans are finalized.
While Zayat might have had strong words for the future of American Pharoah originally, colleagues were quick to not count the horse out just yet. “Mr. Zayat is full of emotion right now,” Dale Romans, trainer of Keen Ice, said. “I really doubt he does retire him, I don’t think he wants to go out like that.”
Regardless if the decision was to race again or not, American Pharoah had nothing to prove after a terrific year that has graced the sport with its first Triple Crown Winner since 1978. To cry for a loss at an unnecessary race would be missing the point. We should all thank the Zayats for bringing this amazing horse back to the track one more time.