Horse > American Pharoah
American was foaled on February 2, 2012, and three years later he made history by becoming the 12th horse in American horse racing history to win the Triple Crown. American Pharoah ripped through the competition and entered the history books in 2015 by winning the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1), and Belmont Stakes (G1). The son of Pioneerof the Nile became the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
“I just feel like I have a very special horse and he’s the one that won,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert of winning the Triple Crown. “It wasn’t me.”
Also making history with American Pharoah was jockey Victor Espinoza. At 43, he became the oldest (at the time) jockey to win the Triple Crown and was also the first Latino jockey to accomplish the feat.
2015 was simply the Year of American Pharoah. It started with a win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 14 and he finished it off in style by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). In between, he won five of his six other races.
American Pharoah’s career started off innocently enough with a fifth-place result in a maiden special weight race at Del Mar on August 9, 2014, which didn’t prepare the world for his soon-to-come dominance. In his first year of competitive racing as a two-year-old, American Pharoah raced three times, winning two grade one stakes races – Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes.
By also winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015, American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Grand Slam of American Horse Racing (Triple Crown + Breeders’ Cup Classic).
“The kindest, friendliest, happiest, easiest, most brilliant horse I’ve ever seen in my life,” said American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat following the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Grand Slam victory. “He connected with people. He loves people. I knew he got it.”
By the time of his retirement to stud, American Pharoah won a combined nine-of-11 career races for total career earnings of $8,650,300. His other two race results were the aforementioned fifth-place maiden special weight race and a runner-up finish in the 2015 Travers Stakes (G1).
Watch the 2015 Kentucky Derby, won by American Pharoah
More About Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah
American Pharoah, the first U.S. Triple Crown hero in 37 years, also reigned as last year’s champion two-year-old male.
The Zayat Stables homebred is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert — the same connections as his sire, Pioneerof the Nile. One of the leading sophomores of 2009, Pioneerof the Nile compiled a four-race winning streak before finishing second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
American Pharoah’s dam, Littleprincessemma, was named in honor of owner Ahmed Zayat’s daughter, Emma. The mare, by Yankee Gentleman, is a half-sister to graded-winning sprinters Storm Wolf and Misty Rosette. While American Pharoah was listed as sold for $300,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, the Kentucky-bred was actually bought back by his owner/breeder.
Only fifth as the 7-5 favorite in his career debut in a maiden race, American Pharoah came right back in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and romped by 4 3/4 front-running lengths. Baffert believed that an equipment change — removing blinkers — was the key to his turnaround. American Pharoah stepped up in distance to 1 1/16 miles in the FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita, and proved effective around two turns with a convincing 3 1/4-length score.
Installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) over the same track and trip, American Pharoah was scratched with what was believed to be a foot bruise. It later transpired that a suspensory ligament may have been involved as well, and he got time off to recuperate.
A healthy American Pharoah then began to burn up the worktab at Santa Anita in preparation for his return. The champion came back with a bang in the Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, speeding to the lead, and skipping over the sloppy surface, to dominate by 6 1/4 lengths. His performance was even more impressive considering that he ran with his right front shoe semi-detached.
American Pharoah made another visit to Oaklawn for the April 11 Arkansas Derby (G1), where he showed a new dimension: being able to sit off the speed. On cruise control for regular rider Victor Espinoza, he took command on the far turn and opened up by eight lengths down the lane in an apparently effortless display.
That propelled American Pharoah into 5-2 favoritism for the May 2 Kentucky Derby, where he again employed a stalking style but had to work a bit harder. Despite racing wide throughout, the champion finally imposed his will on Firing Line and ground out a one-length decision.
When the heavens poured down a deluge of rain minutes before the May 16 Preakness (G1), it was virtually an omen that American Pharoah would complete the classic double. Reminiscent of his Rebel heroics in the slop, he hustled to the front and widened his margin to seven lengths at the wire.
Three weeks later, American Pharoah stood on the threshold of immortality, if he could only complete the elusive Triple Crown sweep in the June 6 Belmont S. (G1). No horse had accomplished the feat since Affirmed in 1978, and history itself appeared to become an obstacle.
But American Pharoah joined the exclusive club, and became U.S. racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, in wire-to-wire style. Extending his advantage over the pursuing Frosted to 5 1/2 lengths, he turned in a superb time of 2:26.65 for the Belmont’s 1 1/2 miles.
Following his epic victory, American Pharoah has been celebrated by the racing world. The current number one on the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, he paraded before his throngs of fans at both Churchill Downs on June 13 and at Santa Anita June 27.
American Pharoah made his first post-Triple Crown start in the August 2 Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth, where he easily racked up his eighth straight victory. Gearing down in deep stretch, he coasted home by 2 1/4 lengths from Keen Ice.
But his winning streak came to an end in the August 29 Travers (G1) at Saratoga, which once more lived up to its reputation as the “graveyard of favorites.” American Pharoah was pressed early by Frosted, and uncharacteristically had to work hard as the two matched strides turning for home. He gamely fought back after being headed by Frosted and regained the lead, only to be passed late by Keen Ice.
Connections are weighing whether to advance to a grand finale in the October 31 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland, or instead retire him now to his new stud career at Ashford.