Saratoga Courting American Pharoah

Jun 11, 2015

Credit 2015 Preakness Stakes / Maryland GovPics/Wikimedia Commons

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has dominated headlines and adorned magazine covers since his historic win at Belmont last weekend. With the meet at Saratoga just weeks away, the win is generating buzz throughout town.

Everybody wants a piece of American Pharoah. The first horse to win the Triple Crown in nearly four decades is the brightest star in the horse racing galaxy, and the players in Saratoga are hoping he’ll shine a light on the Spa.

Brien Bouyea, spokesman for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, is joining the rallying call to bring the famous horse to town this August. 

“Whether it’s the Jim Dandy or the Travers, those would be absolutely huge events for this town, and obviously a great racing season would go through the roof if he were to come here,” said Bouyea.

The rock star horse could also make an appearance at Monmouth Park in New Jersey for the Haskell Invitational. 

Saratoga Springs mayor Joanne Yepsen said she is sending a letter to  to owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert to congratulate them on the win and to welcome them to the city.

"We are an exclusive, top-notch racing track and we believe American Pharoah would be a perfect fit for Saratoga Springs,” said Yepsen.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer also sent a letter - welcoming American Pharoah to join the other greats that have raced at Saratoga, including Secretariat, Man O’War, Gallant Fox, and Whirlaway – the last of which is the only horse to take the Triple Crown and Travers Stakes in 1941.

Todd Shimkus, President and CEO of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said a visit by American Pharoah would only enhance Saratoga as a world-class destination for horse racing.

“If we somehow were to win and secure American Pharoah here in Saratoga, I think what that does is it puts us under a more national and international spotlight,” said Shimkus. “Especially with New York City media just three hours away, you have an opportunity there to really catapult Saratoga as one of the sport’s best and most attractive tracks to be on.”

Jeff Cannizzo, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc., said the spotlight on American Pharoah is attracting the attention of new fans, which is important in an industry driven by records and numbers.

“It’s kind of interesting to see people that aren’t interested in horse racing asking questions and wanting to know what he did,” said Cannizzo.

John Durso Jr., a spokesman for the New York Racing Association, said in a statement:

“While any future decisions regarding American Pharoah will be made solely by his connections, all of us at the New York Racing Association know that the greatest, most knowledgeable and most passionate racing fans in the world are found at Saratoga Race Course every summer.”

And Brian Bouyea at the Hall of Fame said work is already underway to recognize American Pharoah in the Triple Crown Gallery for visitors this season.

“There will be a temporary acknowledgement there this year and then that will be updated next year. We also have requests into Zayat stables and the connections to see if we can see if we can get some memorabilia from the horse; whether it’s some shoes, a saddlecloth, or something along those lines,” said Bouyea. “Obviously this is a huge achievement and we’re going to try to celebrate it as best we can.”