Ahmed Zayat is becoming one of the most publicized figures in horse racing. He and his stable, Zayat Stables LLC bred and own American Pharoah, the colt who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes this year. However, those who have been following the Sport of Kings know that this moment has been in the making for quite some time for Zayat, and more success is probably inevitable.
Ahmed Zayat began breeding horses in 2005, and he won his first graded stakes race, the La Brea Stakes in 2006 with Downthedustyroad.
Bob Baffert was the trainer of Downthedustyroad, and since that point, he has been one of the premier trainers which Zayat has had training his horses. Not surprisingly, his prized jewel in 2015, American Pharoah, is trained by Baffert as well.
Zayat struck it big the first time with Pioneerof the Nile in 2006 when he was foaled. This was a colt who won the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby, and he was the first colt which Zayat owned which had a shot to run the Kentucky Derby in 2009.
Pioneerof the Nile was the 4 to 1 morning line favorite at the Kentucky Derby that year, and he went off the board at 6 to 1 as the third choice. He finished second that day, earning a cool $400,000 for the Zayat Stables.
Pioneerof the Nile ended up coming in 11th at the Preakness Stakes in a very disappointing finish, and he essentially disappeared from horse racing after that. He retired that summer and immediately went out to stud. Three years later, he paid his biggest dividend, siring American Pharoah.
Of course, American Pharoah wasn't nearly the first colt who was supposed to be the next big thing in the Sport of Kings out of the Zayat Stables. Bodemeister and Paynter were both bred to be Triple Crown contenders, and Eskendereya and Pioneerof the Nile were both amongst the favorites at the Kentucky Derby in their respective years of running.
This though, feels like a different story for Zayat. At this point, no one has even remotely challenged American Pharoah. He put on the show of shows in the slop at the Preakness Stakes last weekend, and he did so on a track which was fit for mudders and not your typical thoroughbreds. In fact, that was the second time he won a race in sloppy conditions by a huge margin, as he did so at Oaklawn Park at the Rebel Stakes as well.
There might literally be nothing to stop American Pharoah except for himself and the general distance of the Belmont Stakes.
If you look back at the history of Zayat's ownership and his bond with Baffert as his top trainer, it shouldn't be all that surprising that the first Triple Crown since 1978 could be in his future. He has built a stable full of colts and mares with tremendous breeding power, and he is going to add yet another when he is ready to retire American Pharoah as well. Better horses are an inevitability, and even if he doesn't win the Triple Crown this time around, there will be a newer and even stronger colt who comes to the forefront out of his stable somewhere down the line.
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