American Pharoah dominates the Breeders' Cup Classic

American Pharoah dominates the Breeders' Cup Classic
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

In the last race of his too brief career, Triple Crown champion American Pharoah dominated a solid field of older foes and familiar rivals in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. In doing so, he became the first ever Triple Crown winner to take down what has been dubbed the “Grand Slam:” the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The race was essentially over straight out of the gate as jockey Victor Espinoza guided American Pharoah over to the rail from post 4 to establish the lead. From post 6, Effinex took up position to American Pharoah’s outside, outsprinting both Tonalist, third, and Frosted, fourth, for the second running position. Keen Ice took up the fifth spot with Gleneagles running in sixth.

Those six maintained their positions through the clubhouse turn and down the back stretch with Hard Aces, 10 ½ lengths off the lead, and Honor Code, 15 ½ lengths behind, trailing the field early. Effinex, closest to American Pharoah early, stuck with the Pioneerof the Nile colt but hardly pressured him, likely for fear of pulling a “Frosted” and taking himself out of the race at the same time. With such an easy lead, American Pharoah put up the opening quarter in an easy :23.99 and the half in :47.50.

The pace quickened slightly from the first quarter to the second, but slowed slightly heading into the latter part of the race. Despite the decrease in speed, Effinex did slightly ratchet up the pressure, to which American Pharoah responded by drawing away by another length. With Effinex now valiantly giving chase, the three-quarter split went up in 1:11.21 and the mile in 1:35.47.

Turning for home, Espinoza opened up American Pharoah, and if there had been any doubt of who the winner would be, those questions flew out the door. Ridden out to the wire in his swan song, American Pharoah easily spurted away from Effinex and kept increasing his advantage. At the wire, American Pharoah was clear by 6 ½ lengths and stopped the clock for the 1 ¼ mile in 2:00.07.

Though he could not keep pace with The Pharoah, Effinex did have enough left in the tank to hold off the late charge of Honor Code, who in turn out-finished Keen Ice for the show. Tonalist once again finished 5th in the Classic. Hard Aces, Frosted and Gleneagles completed the order of finish. Beholder was scratched earlier in the week due to a lung irritation, and Smooth Roller was a race day scratch by the stewards after Kentucky State Veterinarian Will Farmer discovered a tendon issue in the gelding’s left foreleg.

After the race an emotional Baffert said, “We were hoping for a performance like this. When he’s right, if you let him run...I feel really good about it. What a horse! I'll never see another one like him. I'm just proud of my team, and Jimmy Barnes and I'm so happy for the Zayats. I'm emotional right now. I had more pressure. I wanted him to go out a winner. This one was for ‘Pharoah.’ It was for the people who came to see this and I'm glad he gave the people what they wanted to see. I'll never have another horse like him.”         


As the 3-5 favorite, American Pharoah paid $3.40/$3.00/$2.40. Thirty-two to one outsider Effinex returned $14.20/$6.60 for the place, and 9-2 second choice Honor Code returned $3.40 for the show. The $2 exacta paid $76.40, the $2 trifecta returned $322.60 and the $2 superfecta was worth $1,224.00.

The Classic was American Pharoah’s final career race. Owned and bred by the Zayats and trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah will enter stud duty at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud. The son of Pioneerof the Nile retires with an 11: 9-1-0 record with earnings of $8,650,300. A stud fee for the colt has not yet been announced.

Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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