Hail and farewell, American Pharoah.
The Triple Crown champion won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6 1/2 lengths Saturday, taking charge out of the gate in his final race before retirement.
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The 3-year-old colt ran 1 1/4 miles in a track-record 2:00.07 as the sentimental 3-5 favorite among the crowd of 50, 155 at Keeneland. Fans stood 20-deep all along the rail, cheering and snapping cellphone photos of the superstar horse and jockey Victor Espinoza.
Except American Pharoah didn’t hear them. He wears ear plugs to muffle any sounds that might startle him.
“This was for Pharoah, ” trainer Bob Baffert said. “We wanted him to go out the champion he is.”
Owner AHMED ZAYAT: What could you say? I mean, 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.
I said it once, and more than once. This race was only about American Pharoah. 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 — hopefully we will, but I doubt 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 seven or eight different tracks. 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.
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