For decades, horse racing went without a hallowed Triple Crown winner. It was the most talked about story in the Sport of Kings. Could any three-year old colt ever overcome the odds of running three grueling races in a span of five weeks and winning all three against the best and brightest in his age class?
The answer has finally come. American Pharoah has done the job. Ahmed Zayat, the owner of American Pharoah, was hoping to retire his colt and send him out to stud shortly after the Triple Crown, but instead, he elected to keep on racing him.
We've seen some greatness out of American Pharoah since that awesome day at Belmont Park when he romped to the Triple Crown. He stormed through the Haskell Invitational without any fight whatsoever against a great field, showing that great burst of speed at the outset of the race, following it up by a driving finish which no one could contend with.
However, we've also seen American Pharoah be mortal as well. It looked like Victor Espinoza was set to ride American Pharoah into the sunset as a champion once again at the Travers Stakes in August. He put his pony in a position to win this race from the outset, and from there, he took the lead with a furlong to go.
For the first time in American Pharoah's career though, he was caught from behind. It was Keen Ice, a colt he put away time and time again in the Triple Crown races who got the job done.
Again, speculation was rampant that American Pharoah was going to be retired. With the allure of a $5,000,000 prize purse at the Breeders' Cup though, Zayat couldn't bear to not have his horse get his opportunity to prove that he is the best pony of our generation.
The Breeders' Cup Classic will mark the first time American Pharoah ever runs up against horses who are older than he is. Yes, other three-year olds like Frosted and Keen Ice will be back, but there are others who have had tremendous success here and abroad, too.
Tonalist was amongst the favorites at the Breeders' Cup Classic last year, and he has hit the board in all but two of his 14 races in his career.
Gleneagles, an Irish bred horse is coming from overseas, where he's already posted seven wins in 10 races, five of which have come at the Grade 1 level.
And then there's Beholder, the first filly to run up against American Pharoah in his career. She has won 15 times in her 20 career races, including taking down the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year by a whopping 4 1/4 lengths.
The way to victory for American Pharoah though, is going to have to be exactly the same. He's got more speed he's up against now than ever before, and he'll have a tough time ensuring that he'll be at or near the front in the first dozen strides or so.
If he does get up there though, it's going to be a matter of looking from behind and making sure that Keen Ice or another contender doesn't run him down. There are seven other horses scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic who have all earned over $1 million in prize money. To say that American Pharoah will be tested is an understatement, and it's why horse racing pundits are expecting him to only open up as around a 3 to 1 favorite to become the first horse ever to win both the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
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