The Serendipitous American Pharoah Experience

By now you know, (unless you are on the blog by accident searching for pulled pork recipes, or were vacationing on Mars) American Pharoah won the Haskell on Sunday.

Before the race, some who called the race a slam dunk for the Triple Crown winner probably missed the fact that Keen Ice (he who raced sneaky good in the Derby and was moving well wide in the Belmont closing to be a good third), Upstart (an early Beyer sensation and quality animal) and Competitive Edge (the hot wise-guy horse for the Preakness that some thought would beat Pharoah at Pimlico if entered) were all in the race. Or maybe they just knew something. If you've seen a more impressive performance in a $1 million, $1.75 million race let me know.

After the Triple Crown, the narrative that AP would be retired to preserve his stud value - then, likely at its zenith - was making the rounds. It was not based on a deep dislike from fans for horses retiring early, it was reality. Fans are pawns for the breeding game and have been forever. But that didn't happen, due to an interestingly written stud deal where the majority owner of the horse for racing purposes benefits when the horse races. The breeding farm, who ended up getting a good deal, takes most of the risk.

This potential economic risk for Coolmore (Pharoah racing poorly, as happens so often in this game, reducing or holding his stud value) didn't happen on Sunday. Remarkably, that performance, so dominant, so impressive, so other worldly, so magical, probably enhanced his stud fee by ten, twenty, thirty or forty thousand. The value of the horse went up, by racing him in the Haskell.

Because of the stud deal, coupled with the soundness and durability of this glorious animal, it looks like he will race in potentially the Travers (where, as talked about by Sid Fernando, via the SI piece, it makes the most hard dollar sense for the owner), and the Breeders' Cup Classic.

This whole experience has been extremely unique, and very serendipitous for fans, and the sport itself.  It's one thing to have a horse win a Triple Crown, which is obviously extremely hard to do. But then, you have a horse who goes through that grind and comes out the other end good enough, sound enough and sharp enough to race again. Then, the stud deal was written in such a way that racing the animal makes the most hard money sense for the majority owner who controls his schedule. It's like knocking down three bowling pins at the State Fair that were nailed down. The above just should not have ever happened.

Horse racing has always been defined by having faith. Faith that somehow a yearling becomes a Champion. Faith that your horse will have the luck, that serendipity works its mystical magic for you, with the sports' fans along for the ride. This horse has had that perfect storm, and the sport - the column inches, the attendance figures, the buzz, the general enjoyment people have from watching great animals bred to race, not bred to breed - is being touched by it right before our eyes.

For fans, the owner, the connections, the stud farm and just about everyone else associated with American Pharoah, it's been a superfluous superfecta of good fortune. Let's all hope it continues.

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Upstart is a pig. The Florida Derby was one of the ugliest, slowest finishes I've ever seen. A prime case where the number was absolute BS. Now let me tell you how I really feel


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