Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah Eyes Breeders’ Cup Classic

We waited nearly four decades but finally witnessed history as American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

The brilliant colt won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes by a combined 13 ½ lengths and joined an exclusive club with just 12 members.

Some expected him to be whisked off to the breeding shed, where he likely will command up to a $100,000 stud fee covering as many as 100 mares a season.

However, his connections will campaign him throughout the 2015 season as long as he stays healthy, with the ultimate goal the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic where he is the 3-2 early betting favorite.

His next appearance on the racetrack will be Saturday night at Churchill Downs, but he will just be paraded and honored for his tremendous accomplishment. His next start will likely come this summer.

There are two prestigious Grade 1 races for three-year-olds in August, the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2 and the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 29.

The colt could race in one or both of those races. His trainer Bob Baffert is no stranger to the Jersey Shore, winning the Haskell a record seven times including last year with Bayern, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

His following start would likely come in either the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita or the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), both Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Those races would be his first start against older horses.

The Classic will be contested this year at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

American Pharoah has now won seven races in a row, his lone blemish a fifth place finish in his debut on polytrack at Del Mar last August. He has been perfect since, including winning six Grade 1 races.

Beating the best of his generation is one thing, but defeating older horses will not be easy. Among those he may end up facing in the Classic is California Chrome, last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

Second in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in his last start, he makes his next appearance on turf in the Prince of Wales (G1) at Royal Ascot on June 17. His early Classic odds are 9-1.

Another foe will be Honor Code, who is at betting odds of 14-1 for the Classic. Injuries knocked him off the Kentucky Derby trail last year, but he earned a career top speed figure winning the Met Mile (G1) on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.

The late running colt trained by Shug McGaughey won a starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) with the victory, but should only get better with added ground and he seems more likely to point toward the Classic.

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