American Pharoah Wins Haskell Invitational after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 37 years, American Pharoah’s return was greatly anticipated. Fifty-seven days after the Belmont, the 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile looked better than ever in his eighth consecutive victory.
“That was nerve-racking,” Baffert said after his eighth win in the Haskell, five more than any other trainer. “I was getting pretty nervous.”
Sent off at odds of 1-10, American Pharoah became the shortest price winner in Haskell history, returning $2.20 for a $2 win bet.
Keen Ice rallied for second at 18-1 odds, followed by Upstart, Competitive Edge, Top Clearance, Dontbetwithbruno and Mr. Jordan. The winning time for the 1⅛-mile race was 1:47.95 — 0.95 seconds off the Haskell record.
American Pharoah’s next start is now the biggest question in racing. There’s no answer yet, but options include the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 29, the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 19 and the Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 26.
American Pharoah followed many of his Triple Crown colleagues by winning his first start after three grueling races in five weeks. Of the 11 others, seven won in their return and one, Count Fleet, was retired after the 1943 Belmont with an injury.
American Pharoah opened his career with a loss before reeling off eight in a row — seven of them Grade 1 races. With the $1.1 million payday in the Haskell, his career earnings soared to $5.6 million.
As he was led back to the winner’s circle, the cheers continued.
“I couldn’t believe the crowd, how loud it was,” an emotional Baffert said, his voice breaking. “It was a great crowd. I love bringing my horses here. Thank you for being behind Pharoah the whole way.”
The long day at Monmouth Park began with gates opening at 9 a.m. and fans strolling into the Jersey Shore track after waiting in line for hours, some since 5 a.m. But it wasn’t until late afternoon until the place looked packed.
When American Pharoah was led into the paddock, the crowd stood 15 deep around the railing, straining to get a cellphone photo of the colt. And the horse came through with a truly remarkable performance.
“It’s very rare that I’m speechless, but I am extremely proud,” Zayat said. “I couldn’t be happier that this is happening in the great state of New Jersey. This is a superstar. He has touched everybody’s heart.”