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American Pharoah gets a kiss from owner Ahmed Zayat after winning the Classic.
Day two of the 32nd Breeders' Cup World Championships took place Saturday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington before a crowd of 50,155. Conditions were less than ideal with overcast skies, occasional light showers, and temperatures in the high 50's. The main track was rated fast as it was Friday, but the Haggin turf course was upgraded to "good" after listed as "yielding" on day 1 of the Championship.
First time by with American Pharoah out front with Effinex chasing him
Jockey Victor Espinoza sent American Pharoah to the front immediately after the start, and he was allowed an almost uncontested lead through fractions of 23.99, 47.50, and 1:11.21 while stalked by 33-1 Effinex a length or two behind him the whole way. At the 3/8 pole Espinoza shook American Pharoah's reins and he quickly surged to a 3 1/4 length lead at the top of the lane, getting 1 mile in 1:35.47. Under a hand ride, American Pharoah replicated his Belmont Stakes stretch drive, drawing away from the field to finish 6 1/2 lengths ahead of Effinex in a new track record time of 2:00.07 over the fast surface. It was another 4 1/2 lengths back to late-running Honor Code third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 American Pharoah Espinoza 3.40 3.00 2.40 6 Effinex Smith 14.20 6.60 9 Honor Code Castellano 3.40 Winning Time: 2:00.07 $2 Exacta 4-6 76.40 $2 Trifecta 4-6-9 322.60 $2 Superfecta 4-6-9-2 1,224.00 $1 Super High Five 4-6-9-2-1 1,715.10 $2 Pick Six 11-5-7-13-9-4 94,424.40Results chart
Left: American Pharoah in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Victor Espinoza said, "I wanted to bounce out of there and let him run. He's really high speed like he's always done it before. I don't want to take one inch out of him and during the race to anybody get close to me.In the back side, slowed down a little bit, and the track was a little bit like a little bit deep (on the rail) so I decided to move him one or two (paths) out. As soon as I moved him there, he reaccelerated again. It feels like he was a little bit more light in there. Turning for home, I was not worried about the track. I was gone. I was trying to open it up as much as I can. And I saw the wire maybe 20 yards, and it was, for me it was not coming fast enough because I want to cross that wire and get it over with. American Pharoah is one of the best horses that I'm ever probably going to ride."
Right: The trophy presentation with owner Ahmed Zayat holding the trophy and his son (and racing manager) Justin on the left. Zayat said, "What a horse. The kindest, friendliest, happiest, easiest, most brilliant horse I've ever seen in my life. We've been very privileged. We owe American Pharoah everything. Us, the Zayats, the Bafferts, his groom, all of us. He is just once in a lifetime.
Left: American Pharoah parades for the fans after the race. Owner Ahmed Zayat added, "We want him to go out as a winner. Just for the horse. He has ran so hard and so brilliantly for a very long, taxing time. I doubt that we'll ever see a horse who is able to really take what he's done in terms of shipping in and out and going to 7 or 8 different tracks. He doesn't care about the surface, doesn't care about where he's sitting. He just does it all. He runs with his heart. He is kind. He's brilliantly fast. He's just a different kind of animal."
Right: American Pharoah walks over before the race with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes on the left and exercise rider George Alvarez on the right. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "This horse has brought so much to racing and it's been a privilege to train this horse. He is a gift from God. It's been a privilege to watch him train, to watch him breeze. Everybody involved, Jimmy Barnes, Giorgio, Martin Garcia, who breezes him for me. There are so many people involved. He gave everyone what they came to see today. That's what horse racing is about."
Left: American Pharoah in the post parade. Justin Zayat said, "All year, we were pressured, first, to make it on to the Derby trail. Everything had to go exactly right. Thank God it did. You come out of the Travers and we're thinking what's next for American Pharoah? Is it the same horse? We took him back home. Bob told us, this horse does not look like he wants to retire right now. There's no chance. He said 'I'm going to prepare this horse and he's going to be ready to roll.' All week, Bob was so confident in this horse. You could just see how relaxed he was. He was joking around with us all week. He knew he was ready to roll."
Right: American Pharoah returns to the barn after the race. Baffert added, I'm just glad that the Pharoah, he goes out the champ that he is, and it's going to be sad to see him go. But I think he's done enough. He's proved enough." Turning to his son Bode he asked, "We're going to miss him, aren't we, buddy?". Bode answered "Yeah we are."
Left: Second place finisher Effinex crosses the finish line 6 1/2 lengths behind American Pharoah. Jockey Mike Smith said, "Once we hit the 3/8 pole I thought 'Don't panic, don't panic. Maybe we can hold on for second,' Passing the 3/8 pole we really picked it up. The real guy (American Pharoah) showed up today." Trainer Jimmy Jerkens added, "I'm ecstatic. I was happy to see him sitting second early and not being rank. American Pharoah started pulling away on the backside but he stayed second. It was unbelievable"
Right: Third place finisher Honor Code returns after the race. Trainer Shug McGaughey said, "He was the only one to close. Those two ran 1-2 all the way around. When it came up with an eight-horse field, when two horses who looked like they had speed, Beholder and Smooth Roller, scratched, everybody was riding to be safe; they were riding to be second. The winner when he's like that he's pretty good. As a trainer, he's the first Triple Crown winner I've seen and I think he was a very deserving Triple Crown winner. To see him come back to run the way he did today against this field of horses, he's a very good horse."
The start of the Classic. Aidan O'Brien, trainer of last place finisher Gleneagles (5) said, "It was massive to ask the horse and he couldn't quite get home. He's a top class miler on fast ground and he's had a long, hard season getting him ready for races. All we wanted for him was to come home safe and sound. The winner is one of the most amazing things I've seen."
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