American Pharoah Loses At Saratoga

horse-race The infamous “Graveyard of Favorites” struck once again on Saturday, August 29, 2015 when American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, was defeated in the $1.6 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga by Keen Ice. It was the first loss for American Pharoah in his last nine races including the Triple Crown series and Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.


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In the picture to the left seen here “Keen Ice (7), with jockey Javier Castellano, moves past Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, with Victor Espinoza, to win the Travers Stakes.(Photo: Hans Pennink, AP)”

Saratoga was sold out and filled with 50,000 fans who came to watch the Triple Crown winner continue his amazing run on his way to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in late October. It was not to be, however, as Keen Ice overcame a leg weary American Pharoah in the stretch to win the Travers and deprive those in attendance of yet another AP victory celebration. Keen Ice, trained by Dale Romans and ridden to victory by Javier Castellano, finished second to American Pharoah in the Haskell and chased the champion through the entire Triple Crown series.

Baffert says American Pharoah is tired

After the race, American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert said that the miles the colt has had to travel could have impacted his performance.

“That’s a lot of mileage,” said Baffert in reference to the 18,000 travel miles covered by American Pharoah in his quest to become possible the greatest horse of all time. “He went to Arkansas twice. And then he went to Kentucky, Maryland, back to Kentucky, New York, back to Kentucky, back to California…Jersey, back to California back…I mean, you don’t see a horse do that. You have to be really special to do that.”

With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on the horizon, some will likely question the choice of running American Pharoah in the Travers instead of giving him time off to prepare for the Classic. Even Baffert admits that running in the Travers may have hurt the horse’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup.

“I don’t know, I wanted to see how taxing this race was on him,” the trainer said. “This is something we have to sit and figure out. I’m not really used to being in this position with him, so it’s sort of hard to digest right now.”

Why is Saratoga so hard on favorites?

Saratoga has long had the reputation for being the “Graveyard of Favorites” but when one examines the total picture here it isn’t hard to swallow American Pharoah’s loss. The horse came into the race just three weeks after the Haskell and just a few months after the grueling Triple Crown. It is far more likely that the horse was simply exhausted from his competitive outings and the miles he has had to travel.

Consider this: only one Triple Crown winner has gone on to win the Travers at Saratoga—Whirlaway in 1941. It also bears noting that no winner of the Travers has ever come back to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The likelihood is that it is the rigorous schedule, not the track at Saratoga, which buries favorites at The Spa.

Does the loss diminish American’s Pharoah’s greatness?

Losing the Travers really doesn’t do that much to dull the shine on American Pharoah’s accomplishments. Secretariat lost after winning the Triple Crown and is still regarded as the greatest horse of all time. The breeding rights to American Pharoah have already been sold. There is little significance in the horse losing at Saratoga.

From another angle, it is just hard to see champions and sports heroes lose. The sporting fan wants their heroes to go out a winner. No fan of Muhammad Ali wanted to see the aging champ be destroyed in his final bouts. They would have much preferred to remember Ali has he was when he defeated Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle. Horseracing fans would like to see American Pharoah exit horseracing as a winner, and that is all up to the Breeders’ Cup now.

American Pharoah has almost two months to rest and recuperate before he must do battle with Keen Ice once again. Fans will wait eagerly for that day and hope their Triple Crown champion can finish his career by becoming the first Grand Slam champion in the history of racing.  Hope you enjoyed your visit to take a minute to also check our Bovada racebook review, Twinspires review or even our Betamerica review as they are all great choice if you are in the United States. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere!

Related post: American Pharoah Wins The First Grand Slam


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