In what promises to be as dramatic as a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in the 32-year history of the race, Pioneerof the Nile’s brilliant 3-year-old American Pharoah will attempt to close his racing career with a win in the $5 million dollar race on Saturday afternoon against a star-studded field that includes two-time champion filly Beholder.
American Pharoah, last year’s champion 2-year-old male despite missing the Breeders’ Cup, sealed his place in history this year under the guidance of Bob Baffert when he became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown.
Since then, the Zayat homebred won the $1 million Haskell Inv. and lost a heartbreaker to Keen Ice, who is in the Classic field, in the Travers S.
Despite the loss and the stellar field, American Pharoah was still made the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10 going 1 ¼ miles.
American Pharoah, who drew post 4 and will get the services of regular rider Victor Espinoza, will face a group that includes two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Tonalist, multiple Grade 1 winner Frosted, 2015 Met Mile (G1) and Whitney S. (G1) winner Honor Code, and Beholder, who is the first horse seeking to win three different Breeders’ Cup races.
"He's what they used to call in the olden days 'Hickory.' That's Pharoah. He's been able to withstand so much, the racing, the shipping, and he just keeps his head in the feed bucket," Baffert said. "He has the demeanor to handle things; a very kind horse. One thing I've noticed about him is that when I really start getting after him and start working him, he likes that. He thrives on work."
Should American Pharoah win the Classic, Baffert, who won the race last year with Bayern, would be the first trainer since Jay Robbins to win the race in back-to-back years and also become one of only four trainers to win it more than once.
The Classic is the 11th race on Saturday’s card and has a scheduled post time of 5:35 p.m. ET. The race will be shown live on NBC-TV.