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The Last Dance

Posted by on 9/7/2015 10:59:38 PM

In an extremely sporting gesture, Ahmet Zayet and his team that includes trainer Bob Baffert, assistant trainer Jim Barnes and rider Victor Espinoza decided to give American Pharoah a chance at revenge and redemption by training for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

This group talked it over for 4 straight hours just over a week ago before deciding his superstar would have one more race before going to the breeding shed at Ashford Stud.

Zayet: “I have discussed all aspects of American Pharoah’s race 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. I am very confident that this is the right decision. He loves to race, he has provided my family, racing fans and general sports fans with great thrills this year. He deserves a chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event.

In retrospect, American Pharoah ran super in the Travers defeat. He was very tired after winning the Haskell in his previous race and basically slept in his stall for 4 days.

His connections were on the fence as to where he would run next and that is not the Baffert way. There is not a better trainer in the country that has plans and maps for his horses so the fact he was waffling was a clue.

Still, American Pharoah fought back like a champ in the Travers.

He had to fight tooth and nail with the other speed horse Frosted, lost the lead briefly, but came back and put that runner away before getting nailed late by Keen Ice.

The BC Classic will be no walk in the park for American Pharoah.

He will likely have to face Beholder, who just beat the boys in the Pacific Classic, Honor Code, who won the Met Mile and Whitney and the European flash Gleneagles, who is 7 for 9 in his career.

American Pharoah is a horse of the people if the way he attracts followers is any indication. The day before the Travers for instance, 15,000 people showed up to want the runner just jog around the track. And that impressed long-time horseplayers like New York Racing Association official Martin Panza.

Panza : “Anyone who was here for the Travers will remember it for the rest of his or her lives. The whole week was special. What happened Friday was something I had never seen in my 40 years in racing. That in and of itself is amazing.”

Baffert got his feet wet in the BC Classic last year when Bayern won a controversial renewal of the race so he will now know what it takes to win on that kind of a stage.

Baffert will also have to decide to prep American Pharoah or train him up to the Classic.

Considering the fact that a race would likely have to be written strictly for American Pharoah, the feeling is he will be sent through his motions in the mornings before facing the toughest test of his career against older horses.



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