What would you say if I told you that at this very moment, there’s a horse running around inside a wooden box not far from you? That’s right – at the same time you’re reading this, a horse named American Pharoah is in the mile-and-a-half long Las Vegas Motor Speedway undergoing final preparations before the big race next week. Unfortunately, I can’t take you there – at least not yet. We’ll have to settle for documenting American Pharoah’s incredible journey, which began almost 70 years ago in a small town in Oklahoma, and will end with him becoming the first horse to ever win the Triple Crown – and perhaps the most iconic figure in all of sports.
The story of American Pharoah is a tale of two races – the first being the 1936 Pimlico Special, which was his amateur debut. The second and more well-known race is the 1941 Kentucky Derby, wherein he finished second to the legendary Man o’ War. Following his Derby loss, American Pharoah rebounded and became a 4-time consecutive champion of the Blue Grass Stakes. In 1942, he broke records and won the prestigious Travers Stakes, the most prestigious horse race in North America outside of the Kentucky Derby.
Then disaster struck. While training for the 1943 Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah broke a suspensory ligament in his right foreleg. The injury kept him from running for the rest of his career, and his owners eventually retired him.
But it wasn’t all bad. In 1944, American Pharoah was hired as a breeding stallion at the Stallion Station near Willingboro, North Carolina. There, the gelding sired over 100 foals, many of which were winners. Among his greatest accomplishments is the fact that he sired the 1978 Kentucky Derby winner, Affirmed. In 1982, American Pharoah was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame. Today, at the age of 94, he still lives at the Stallion Station and continues to breed and act as a sire for his owners, Affirmed’s descendants.
Triple Crown Pursuit
Since the inception of the Triple Crown, only five horses have managed to complete the demanding race – three of which are now in the Hall of Fame. With a total of 1,600 meters (1 mile) of racing over three consecutive days, you’ll travel from end to end of the track, passing by hundreds of horses, all of which are vying for a spot in the history books. This year’s race is a “retirement”-type of event for American Pharoah, as he’s unlikely to win the race after almost 70 years of competition. Nevertheless, for fans, there’s still plenty to look forward to.
The first day of the Triple Crown is scheduled for May 7th, and will consist of a 1.5 kilometer (one mile) warmup race where the horses will stretch their legs and get used to the track. The next day, the main event will commence with a 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) race, followed by the 1.5 km (0.93 mile) final race. The first two rounds are designed to be a bit of a joke, with the first two horses to cross the finish line being the winner of the race. The final leg, however, is a real race to the finish, where the horses will put their sprinting abilities to the test.
The last three winners of the “Triple Crown” have all gone on to have impressive post-racing careers. In 1977, the French horse, Chief’s Crown, scored an upset victory over two time defending champion Affirmed in what would be his only start of the year. He went on to follow up his win with a 5th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a 2nd place finish in the Preakness Stakes. In 1978, Omaha Beach was narrowly defeated by jockey Tom Miller’s hometown favorite, Affirmed, in what would be the last competitive race of Omaha’s 12-year career. He went on to live a long and happy life, becoming a prominent sire and damming several prominent winners. Finally, in 2005, Dixieland became the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 40 years when he defeated War Emblem by a nose in the closest finish in the history of the Kentucky Derby. Since then, he’s gone on to become a successful breeding stallion and sire of many champions.
American Pharoah may not be around to win the race this year, but that doesn’t mean that just because he’s not in the running that folks aren’t interested. The odds of any horse winning the Triple Crown this year are not in their favor. Only one of the 28 horses currently in the running has a chance of winning. That horse is Colonial Affair, who has a good chance of winning the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
The betting odds of Colonial Affair winning the Triple Crown are 8/1. Meaning that you have an 8-fold chance of winning $100 if you wager $100 on Colonial Affair winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
Next Week’s Race
While we can’t take you to the exciting races in person, we can bring you live coverage and betting insights from the track.
The big race for next week will be the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby. Since its inception, the Derby has evolved into one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. It’s regarded as the “Super Bowl” of horse races, where the winners are decided by an average margin of victory of over 15 lengths. This year, the main event will take place on Saturday, May 7th and will be broadcast live on NBC.
You’ll also be able to follow all the action on Twitter via the hashtag #KentuckyDerby or on Facebook via the “Kentucky Derby” page. Make sure to tune into both platforms to get the most out of the upcoming race.
Preparing For The Derby
The lead-up to the Derby has been pretty uneventful, as far as American Pharoah is concerned. The last week has been full of training and preparations, which will culminate in a series of races starting next week and continuing through to the big day.
Since the beginning of March, trainer Bob Baffert has been working with American Pharoah, getting him fit and ready for his upcoming competition. The gelding has been focusing on getting his stamina up and running, as well as getting his muscles into peak condition. This work has clearly paid off, as American Pharoah is looking stronger and stronger each day. In order to increase his chances of winning, Baffert has been taking it easy on his horse, giving him only light work during the week and keeping ring levels low. This strategy has helped American Pharoah stay in good spirits, and has gotten the horse excited for the upcoming races.
The next week of training is critical. After the Derby, Baffert will have only two weeks to get American Pharoah ready for the Preakness Stakes, the first of the “Triple Crown” races. The gelding will also need to be fit enough to handle the distance (1.5 kilometers) and continue on to the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the triple crown-race, which will cover a distance of 2 kilometers. Unfortunately, due to his age, Baffert doesn’t believe that American Pharoah will have much of a chance of winning the entire tournament. Nevertheless, the trainer is confident that his horse will be able to run all three of the main events and look forward to ending his career on a high note.
Racing Red Hot
If you’re looking for a hot betting pick for the upcoming Kentucky Derby, you won’t have to look far. The betting odds on Displaying Awesome are 25/1, which means you’ll have a 25-fold chance of winning $100 if you wager $100 on that horse. Displaying Awesome is a 6-year-old dark bay or brown colt, and is one of the early favorites, alongside Viscounty, to take down the trophy.
Despite being over 70 years old, American Pharoah remains one of the most respected and recognizable names in all of sports. The Hall of Famer has been retired for over 15 years and has continued to live a quiet, peaceful life at the Stallion Station in Willingboro, North Carolina. Since retiring, he’s sired hundreds of foals, many of which have gone on to become notable horses themselves. It’s quite an amazing legacy, and one that will be celebrated as soon as the dust settles on May 7th.