New Jerseyans will get the chance to see Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, up close this weekend as the famous thoroughbred is set to run in the $1 Million William Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Raceway Park in Oceanport on Sunday.
The colt arrived yesterday at Atlantic City International Airport and traveled up the Garden State Parkway via motorcade—not too shabby for a horse.
Reserved seating for Sunday’s race is sold out, however, tickets will be available race day (grand stand admission $6; clubhouse admission $9). Travelers beware—delays are expected despite NJ Transit’s and the NJDOT’s plans to accommodate traffic on August 2.
Before you go, catch up on some American Pharoah trivia.
1. He’s the 12th Triple Crown winner
For those of you who are just tuning in, American Pharoah is the three-year-old thoroughbred who took home the Triple Crown after his win at the Belmont Stakes back in June. The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is comprised of three races: The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The coveted Triple Crown has been won just 12 times since Sir Barton first won in 1919.
2. He’s the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years
The last time there was a Triple Crown winner it was 1978. A chestnut brown horse named Affirmed, bred by Harbor View Farm, won the title in his three-year-old season. The year before that, Seattle Slew was the winner, and just four years earlier, Secretariat was the first winner in 25 years.
3. He would have lost to Triple Crown winner Secretariat in 1973
The race left many wondering how the thoroughbred’s winning time would have fared in a race against 1973 winner Secretariat. The Wall Street Journal decided to find out in this side-by-side comparison. Had he been racing Secretariat in 1973, American Pharoah would have been a far-off second. American Pharoah and Secretariat’s final times were 2:26.65 and 2:24.00, respectively.
4. His Belmont time is the sixth-fastest
Since the Belmont Stakes were changed to a 1.5-mile race, that is. Secretariat’s 2:24 time in 1973 has yet to be beat. Frankly, there hasn’t been a Belmont winner that’s been close. The second fastest time belongs Easy Goer at 2:26, a whole two seconds longer. Now, with his 2:26.65 time, the sixth best Belmont time belongs to American Pharoah.
5. His winning time is the second fastest for a Triple Crown winner
American Pharoah and Secretariat are the only two Triple Crown winners on the Belmont top six times list. The Courier-Journal explains the complicated breakdown here.
6. He has quite the family tree
American Pharoah’s sire is Pioneerof the Nile, the second place finisher in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. His grandsire, or Pioneerof the Nile’s sire, is Empire Maker, who won the 2003 Belmont Stakes. Empire Maker’s sire is Unbridled, best known for his 1990 Kentucky Derby win. Oh yeah, and American Pharoah’s dam is Littleprincessemma, daughter of Yankee Gentlemen and Exclusive Rosette, both stakes winners in their day.
7. He is bred and owned by Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables, based in Hackensack
Ahmed Zayat was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1962 and came to the United States as an 18-year-old. In 2005, he entered into thoroughbred racing and in less than a decade has amassed quite a few prestigious honors. Besides breeding the now-famous American Pharoah, thoroughbreds carrying Zayat’s blue and gold silks include 19 Breeders’ Cup contenders, 13 Grade 1 Winners, six Eclipse Award finalists, three Kentucky Derby runners-up and another Kentucky Derby favorite.
8. His name is misspelled
Yes, it’s true. According to multiple reports, the misspelling can be traced to Zayat’s annual naming contest where hundreds of Zayat Stables’ social media followers send in their choices to name two-year-olds bred at the stable before they go on to enter into the big races as three-year-olds. The name was submitted by Marsha Baumgartner and the misspelling was never caught, perhaps making the thoroughbred a bit more unique.
9. His trainer Bob Baffert has more than 2,000 career wins
With more than 2,000 career wins, American trainer Robert A. “Bob” Baffert has a long list of accomplishments. On top of the Triple Crown win with American Pharoah, Baffert’s horses have won six Preakness Stakes, two Belmont Stakes and two Kentucky Oaks. The trainer was entered into the Long Star Park Hall of Fame in 2007 and 2009.
If it wasn’t enough that American Pharoah is a Triple Crown winner heading into the race this Sunday, Baffert also touts seven Haskell wins, with three runner-up finishes. Who will you be putting your money on this Sunday?
10. Jockey Victor Espinoza is the oldest and first Hispanic to win the Triple Crown
Mexican-born Victor Espinoza came close to winning the Triple Crown a few times, finally accomplishing the feat and making history in more ways than one. At 43-years-old, Espinoza not only became the oldest jockey to accomplish the feat—but he also became the first Hispanic jockey to win the title since the first races held in the late 1860s and early 1870s.Click here to leave a comment