Newspaper article International New York Times

Triple Crown Winner Faces a Tricky Future ; American Pharoah Starts a String of Races with Goal of Breeder's Cup at End

Newspaper article International New York Times

Triple Crown Winner Faces a Tricky Future ; American Pharoah Starts a String of Races with Goal of Breeder's Cup at End

Article excerpt

The Triple Crown champion had his first workout at Del Mar, Calif., in preparation for his next start in the Haskell Invitational in New Jersey.

It has been a long time since horseplayers could proclaim that all is right in the world and actually mean it. The horses are already running at Del Mar, the track that Bing Crosby built where the turf meets the surf in Southern California. On Friday, John "Old Smoke" Morrissey's Saratoga Race Course kicks off its 147th summer renewal.

Best of all, for the first time in 37 years, there is a Triple Crown champion in our midst. His name, of course, is American Pharoah, and, if the racing gods remain kind, he is scheduled to race on Aug. 2 for the first time since his triumphant Belmont Stakes in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on the Jersey Shore.

Early Thursday at Del Mar, American Pharoah turned in yet another impressive workout in preparation for his return, breezing six furlongs in 1 minute 11 seconds. It was American Pharoah's second timed workout in six days and, in a sign that the colt is raring to go, his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said he would breeze him again on Tuesday before shipping east.

"I think he's getting faster," Baffert said. "He gives me goose bumps."

American Pharoah is also giving his trainer, as well as racing executives across the country, high levels of anxiety. Moments after he crossed the finish line at Belmont Park, Baffert vowed that he would watch the prized chestnut colt closely and do everything in his power to prevent the Triple Crown champion from getting beaten.

That is easier said than done. Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, the last three Triple Crown champions, won only five of their combined 11 races as 3-year-olds after the Belmont.

Escalating the stakes is the fact that American Pharoah's stallion rights had been sold to Coolmore, an Ireland-based international racing and breeding operation, long before the Triple Crown races were run. It is no secret that Coolmore wants the colt to retire immediately to begin his career at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for a fee as high as $150,000 per mating.

Do the math: Dates with 200 mares in American Pharoah's first year will add up to $30 million, or more than twice what Coolmore paid for the stallion rights, according to two people familiar with the deal. …

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