Yesterday I wrote that American Pharoah would probably be retired and put out to stud now that he's won the Triple Crown, but I was wrong. Apparently, he'll continue to race.
The owner of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah says plans are underway for his champion to race again this year. (ESPN)
Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah's owner, sold the breeding rights before the Belmont, but they don't kick in until Pharoah actually retires.
"They have zero say until he retires,'' Zayat said. "We owe it to the sport to do the right thing. Money plays an important factor in this game. I've already sold the breeding rights, but it is my genuine desire, as a fan, as someone who loves horses, to race him as long as I possibly can.'' (ESPN)
Should anything happen to the colt in future races, Zayat is covered by an insurance policy for which the rates are "incredibly high,'' Baffert said recently. (ESPN)My first question was, "Why would they take this risk?" So, I looked it up and, apparently, many other Triple Crown winners have continued to race.
The first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, American Pharoah is in uncharted territory, with no contemporary peers. The last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978, raced 13 times after his Belmont Stakes, running a full season as a four-year-old; Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner, ran eight times after the Belmont, through November of 1978. Secretariat raced six times after winning the Belmont and was retired at the end of the year. (The Guardian)
But still, "Why?"
“Purses these days are hefty,” he (Charlie Boden, stallion manager of Darley America, the breeding operation of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) pointed out. “He’s got $10 million sitting there next March [in the Dubai World Cup]. That’s $6 million to him [if he wins]. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is $5 million. He stands to make another $10 million before the end of March next year.
“If he’s going to the breeding shed, he could get 100 horses to breed to him at $100,000, but that’s a year down the road, assuming he’s fertile and if he wants to breed, and those are two big ifs. We know that we can run and beat just about every sumbitch that lines up next to him.” (The Guardian)Oh, that's why. Money. Speaking of which, did you see the Burger King in American Pharoah's box during the Belmont? So did we. What the #@? It turns out, Burger King paid $200,000 for that privilege. The bright side? The money is going to charity. The down side? It seemed creepy.
If all this is making you a little queasy, here's some good news to balance it. American Pharoah's jockey, Victor Espinoza, who, by the way, was scared of horses at one point in his life, is donating his $80,000 winnings to City of Hope, a research and treatment center that aims to fight cancer and life-threatening illnesses. Espinoza has always donated a percentage of his earnings to that same charity. Kudos to Espinoza!
Triple Crown history was made, but if you, like me, are unable to rest easy until the hero himself is safe and sound, it appears we'll have to wait a little longer.