Zayat Stables owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed today that he will keep American Pharoah in training and will point him towards the $5M Breeders' Cup Classic in Lexington, Ky. on Oct. 31.
1/2 I have decided to continue to race American Pharoah! The champ deserves another chance! @JustinZayat
— Ahmed Zayat (@jazz3162) September 3, 2015
After suffering his first loss since his maiden loss in his first race in the Travers last weekend, the Triple Crown winner will likely ship to Churchill Downs in nearby Louisville to train for the Classic which will be held at Keeneland. After his Arkansas Derby win in April he was headquartered at Churchill before the Derby and then again before the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
In a statement to ESPN.com and Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form, Zayat stated his intentions to continue to race the bay colt with the misspelled name. "I have discussed all aspects of American Pharoah's race last Saturday in the Travers -- and his condition since the race -- with our whole team, and have decided American Pharoah deserves another chance, so we are pointing to the Breeders' Cup Classic."
North America's richest race will become the beneficiary of racing's biggest star and will surely be the main marketing push for the event. It will likely be the first time Pharoah will face older horses, as his races this year have all been restricted to 3-year-olds. Possible contenders to face him in the Classic include Whitney winner Honor Code, Pacific Classic winner Beholder, European invader Gleneagles and several horses from the Triple Crown trail including Travers winner Keen Ice.
After the disappointing loss in the Travers, Zayat had hinted at the "R" word and the possibility that the Travers was indeed his last race.
Mr. Zayat is a true sportsman providing fans another opportunity to see the Triple Crown winner race. His breeding rights have been sold to Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky, effective after the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Buckle your seat belts, the American Pharoah Express continues to roll on.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.