American Pharoah returns in Haskell next month
The Garden State is how New Jersey triumphs its sights and sounds.
New Jersey has thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.
On the first Sunday in August, New Jersey will have Triple Crown champion American Pharoah competing in its Haskell Stakes.
It will be the first on-track appearance for the three-year-old phenom since he swept through the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in unbeaten order, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
The Haskell is held in the home state of the thoroughbred’s owner. And it comes at the right time on the racing schedule if American Pharoah is to run in the late-October Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Race Course.
Trainer Bob Baffert is headquartered in California and usually doesn’t come back East in the late summer. Even though he has won seven Haskell Stakes through the years, Baffert usually has an assistant of his do the honors in New Jersey.
However, Baffert says he will come to trendy Oceanport for this year’s Haskell Stakes, a million dollar brouhaha that likely will also have a Billy Joel concert on the same weekend American Pharoah races.
Baffert and owner Zhayat have decided on a schedule that could also include the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in late August if American Pharoah comes away from the Haskell with all his working parts in order. The Travers comes two months ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which has a $5 million purse.
After the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the chocolate-colored champion will be retired to stud and could command more money per live foal than even the legendary Secretariat did in 1973 after his Triple Crown march.
The record crowd at Monmouth Park is just over 53,000 bettors/onlookers. That attendance figure should fall before the rush of many more thousands that will want to toast American Pharoah.
That line should be a very short one.
Saratoga (New York) is holding its annual six weeks of acclaimed civility at the same time Monmouth is holding sway in New Jersey. Most of the well-heeled stables and famous trainers bring their best thoroughbreds to Saratoga and loose them in rich races there. Fasig-Tipton also has several auctions of thoroughbreds near the Saratoga grounds during the six weeks of leisurely fun had by the horsey set.
The Travers Stakes is Saratoga’s most prized offering, but every afternoon there are multiple stakes races with purses in excess of $100,000.
Why run against American Pharoah if you can win at Saratoga in front of the same people who will be bidding on your weanlings, yearlings, two-year-olds in training and mares in foal at a Fasig-Tipton sale on an August night?
American Pharoah is returning to the track.
Thoroughbred racing gets a jolt of excitement from the average sports fan, who left racing back in a dingy, unlit corner when the Belmont Stakes was finished in early June.