As the controlling speed in Saturday’s $1.6 million Travers Stakes, American Pharoah looks ready to deliver his next salvo in front of a packed house at Saratoga Racetrack.
The superstar colt wins nearly every race in brilliant fashion, recording eight straight stakes tallies since dropping his career debut, and he brings an excitement level to the “Mid-Summer Derby” probably not seen since 1982, when three Triple Crown race winners met in upstate New York for the first time.
The 1982 Travers turned out to be one for the ages, with Preakness winner Aloma’s Ruler and Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo battling head to head from the start, and the race set up perfectly for late-running Kentucky Derby hero Gato Del Sol. But overlooked Canadian invader Runaway Groom stole the show, rallying furiously down middle of the stretch run to surprise the crowd.
Runaway Groom serves as a cautionary tale – anything can happen in horse racing – but trying to beat American Pharoah remains a likely exercise in futility.
I’m hoping to see something special.
The question isn’t whether American Pharoah will win but how. General Assembly established the existing track record 36 years ago, winning the 1 ¼-mile Travers in 2:00, and records are made to be broken.
Could American Pharoah establish a new mark on Saturday?
Odds are against him but the same could be said about the Triple Crown, which lasted 37 long years before American Pharoah came along.
He has the opportunity to do something special every time he races and a new track record would only add to the amazing legacy.
American Pharoah will leave the Travers starting gate at 5:46 p.m. (ET) and I can hardly wait.
American Pharoah photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography