Baffert said that he was in uncharted territory as a newly minted Triple Crown trainer and battled nerves most of the day.
Trainer Bob Baffert has now won at the Haskell a record eight times.
Boo birds: As loud as the cheers were for American Pharoah, the boos for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were equally as overwhelming when he was introduced as part of the trophy presentation. I was simply another fan, awed by the magnificence of the champion in front of me.
Keen Ice finished seventh in the Derby and took third in the Belmont. He paid $2.20 in what amounted to a $1.1-million public workout with six overmatched pursuers in his first race since the Belmont Stakes on June 6.
Abogabal showed up wearing a golden headdress and toting a plastic cobra staff (a repurposed 40th birthday costume). His dominance began with Point Given in 2001 and continued with War Emblem (2002), Roman Ruler (2005), Lookin At Lucky (2010), Coil (2011), Paynter (2012) and Bayern a year ago.
The horses competed against each other in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
That meant Zayat Stables earned a $1.05 million first-place check, lifting American Pharoah’s career earnings to more than $5.5 million.
Zayat said he had “no clue” when asked about his colt’s next race. “I was pretty anxious”. Physical ailments sidelined him the rest of the year, but he came back and won five of seven as a 4-year-old.
The last time he got a pre-race bath, he was hidden away from prying eyes.
“I watched like a fan”, Bafffert said. He went on to make any such dividend look generous indeed as he loped around stalking front-runner Competitive Edge before easily taking control on the far turn and winning without any shade of effort whatsoever from horse and jockey. The horse will get a little chill time and the humans will savor the victory.
“What I saw was incredible”, Baffert added.
What was good about Sunday’s success was that the “right” horses (i.e. those with the best credentials) came to the fore. “He makes me emotional, because he’s just a gift from God or something”.
They hit the stretch with a 5-length lead, and Espinoza said he knew instantly that it was time to power American Pharoah down and preserve his brilliance for another day. “For me the key was just coming out of there running”. He enjoys it. That’s why we run him.
This horse, he just keeps bringing it, trainer Bob Baffert said.
“He did everything by himself”, the rider said.
The race unfolded in simple fashion. Note that DeRosa was touting American Pharoah very early on and is not just a bandwagon-crasher.
Nearing the 3/8ths pole, the champ could not be contained any longer.
American Pharoah opened his career with a loss, but has won eight in a row since – seven of them Grade One races. I want to do the right thing for American Pharoah. Also entered are Competitive Edge, Dontbetwithbruno, Keen Ice, Mr. Jordan, Nonna’s Boy and Top Clearance. But his closing flurry was an illusion. Jockey Victor Espinoza eased American Pharoah to the wire for a 2¼-length victory over Keen Ice on the 1 1/8-mile course, finishing in 1 minute, 47.95 seconds.