In 2015, American Pharoah (sic) became the first horse since Affirmed, in 1978, to win the American Triple Crown. Four months after what ESPN correspondent Richard Rosenblatt called “a dazzling display of speed and endurance” in the Belmont Stakes, which he won, readily, by 5½ lengths, American Pharoah easily won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. In so doing, he became the first and, so far, only horse to win the four most prominent races in American horse racing in a single season and complete what is known, informally, as the “Grand Slam”.
All in all, in a career lasting just 64 weeks, between August 2014 and October 2015, American Pharoah won nine of his 11 races – including eight Grade 1 wins – and over £5.3 million in prize money.
His two defeats came in a maiden race, over 6½ furlongs, at Del Mar on his racecourse debut in August 2014 and in the Travers Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Saratoga on the penultimate start of his career in August 2015. On the latter occasion, he was beaten three-quarters of a length by Keen Ice, whom he’d beaten by 2½ lengths, with jockey Victor Espinoza sitting motionless, in the Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on his previous start. In any event, after two months off American Pharoah set the record straight by making all to beat seven rivals, including Keen Ice, by 6½ lengths and upwards in Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland the following October.
Bred and owned by Zayat Stables, LLC and trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah run just three times as a juvenile. Despite missing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile through injury, victories in the Del Mar Futurity and the Frontrunner Stakes were sufficient for American Pharoah to be named American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse in 2014. In 2015, he was named American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse and American Horse of the Year, by unanimous decision. In fact, he became just the just the second horse in the history of the Eclipse Awards, after John Henry in 1981, to poll every vote for Horse of the Year.
Incidentally, the incorrect spelling of his name was nothing more than a mistake by Ahmed Zayat, CEO of Zayat Stables, LLC, although Zayat originally blamed The Jockey Club before later backing down.