By: Elexis Wolis
For the first time in 37 years, it has been done. American Pharoah, a three-year-old bay colt, is the first horse in 37 years, and the twelfth horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, also known as the Triple Crown.[i] When owner Ahmed Zayat accepted the desired Triple Crown trophy, he avowed, "I am so thrilled, honored, privileged, humbled, excited."[ii] Since 1978, the anticipation for the next Triple Crown winner has been eagerly anticipated.[iii] After Affirmed won in 1978, twelve other horses have fallen short of a Triple Crown Victory, winning at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only to lose the coveted title with a Belmont loss.[iv]
American Pharoah also set another record as the horse with the sixth fastest time in Belmont Stakes history at 2:26.65.[v] Even though he started one second late, American Pharoah proved to be a great horse that did not disappoint the fans.[vi] Jockey Victor Espinoza, 43, knew that he had a special horse, and was confident when he entered the Kentucky Derby.[vii] Espinoza also set another record, as the first Hispanic jockey to win the Triple Crown.[viii] Last year, Espinoza rode California Chrome; another horse trained by Bob Baffert, but fell short of the victory at the Long Island racetrack where Belmont Stakes is held.[ix] American Pharoah trainer, Baffert, on the day of the Belmont Stakes race told Espinoza, “he’s ready. Ride him with confidence.”[x] Only eleven horses in history have been worthy enough for the title, and American Pharoah earned his place with a remarkable Belmont Stakes win.[xi] Baffert knew the race was over on the first turn.[xii]
This win was a triumph for owner Zayat, and a race that horse lovers surely will not forget. However, his greatness can also be attributed to his successful pedigree. His father, Pioneer of the Nile, placed 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his grandfather, also known as a grand sire, won the 2003 Belmont Stakes.[xiii] “The sire line is very stamina oriented, but the female line of descent — the dam, the second dam, the third dam — they’ve all been very speed oriented horses,” remarked Sid Fernando, president and CEO of thoroughbred research and consultant for Werk Thoroughbred Consultants.[xiv] Furthermore, FORBES has estimated that this particular colt is worth $48 million.[xv]
The horse industry value’s American Pharoah by multiplying his expected stud fee, which is the price to breed him to one mare, by 300 to 400.[xvi] The assumption is that a horse will “book” 100 mares per year over the span of three or four years.[xvii] In 2014, American Pharoah’s breeding rights were sold to Coolmore Ashford Stud.[xviii] At 120 mares a year, for four years at $100,000 a stud, American Pharoah’s resulting value is $48 million.[xix]
Thus, American Pharoah proved to be the amazing horse his trainer anticipated, and gave Espinoza a once in a lifetime experience. Espinoza knew that “by the eighth pole it was going to happen and all I did was just take in the crowd. It was thundering.”[xx]
[i] Steve Almasy, American Pharoah becomes first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, CNN (June 8, 2015), http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/06/us/belmont-stakes-american-pharoah/.
[iii] American Pharoah Becomes First Triple Crown Winner Since ’78, NBC Sports (June 6, 2015), http://www.nbcsports.com/horse-racing/american-pharoah-becomes-first-triple-crown-winner-78.
[v] Almasy, supra note 1.
[vi] Joe Drape, American Pharoah Wins Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown, The New York Times (June 6, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/sports/american-pharoah-wins-belmont-stakes-and-triple-crown.html.
[viii] Almasy, supra note 1.
[ix] Drape, supra note 6.
[xii] Tim Layden, American Pharoah’s Triple Crown obliterates years of disappointment, Sports Illustrated (June 7, 2015), http://www.si.com/horse-racing/2015/06/06/american-pharoah-belmont-stakes-triple-crown-bob-baffert.
[xiii] Maggie McGrath, Why American Pharoah, The First Triple Crown Winner in 37 Years, Is Worth $50 Million, Forbes (June 6, 2015), http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2015/06/06/american-pharoah-becomes-the-first-horse-to-win-the-triple-crown-in-37-years/.
[xx] Almasy, supra note 1.