Making his first start since his historic Triple Crown, American Pharoah kept rolling right along with a sublimely dominating victory in the $1.75 million Haskell Inv. (G1) Sunday afternoon.
With Bob Baffert seeking a record eighth victory in Monmouth Park’s signature race, American Pharoah was the overwhelming 1-9 choice by the adoring throng in the 1 1/8-mile contest.
There was never really an anxious moment as Victor Espinoza placed American Pharoah just on the outside and behind the speedy Competitive Edge. Those two didn’t change positions until the far turn, when American Pharoah, without urging from Espinoza, up alongside and by Competitive Edge.
Espinoza remained motionless in the stretch as the powerful bay opened up by about a half dozen lengths in mid-stretch. Keen Ice made a late, non-threatening move into second as American Pharoah crossed the wire in a similar fashion as he did in his crushing win in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
His time of 1:47 4/5 was less than a second off the track record set by Bet Twice in 1987.
“I was a nervous wreck right before the race, but he just keeps bringing it; he’s just a great horse,” said Baffert. “I couldn’t believe how loud the crowd was; I’m glad they got to see a great horse. The whole jockey colony came out to see him. I’m just so emotional, he’s like a gift from God.”
An obviously overcome Ahmed Zayat paid homage to both his horse and his home state.
“It’s very rare that I’m speechless; it’s an honor and a privilege that this is happening in New Jersey.”
With eight wins from nine starts and a $1.1 million payday, American Pharoah pushed his lifetime earnings to $5,630,300.
Baffert and Zayat were both asked if they had thought about where American Pharoah may next start, but both declined to comment as they were basking in their colt’s latest triumph.
Baffert’s list of Haskell winners: American Pharoah (’15), Bayern (‘14), Paynter (‘12), Coil (‘11), Lookin at Lucky (‘10), Roman Ruler (‘05), War Emblem (‘02), Point Given (‘01).