September 2, 2015

10 Questions of American Pharoah - Past, Present & Future

  1. Now that we're all settling down from Saturday's Travers Stakes, let’s compare the mood of the US thoroughbred racing scene now versus this time last year after the vitriolic rage from Team Chrome and his subsequent clunker race in the PA Derby.  Wouldn't you agree that Team Pharoah has produced the positive vibes and momentum that racing desperately needed which hasn't been experienced since Zenyatta (but on an even grander scale)?
  2. American Pharoah was not "perfect" before the Travers, nor is he perfect after his super game runner-up effort to Keen Ice.  But which horse on the planet would you rather own right now for one last dance in the Breeders' Cup Classic?
  3. Regarding the debate over pace scenario with interior splits and tactics of Jose Lezcano aboard Frosted, I am in the camp of how a horse is going (loose lead vs. dueling) is more relevant than raw times. Can anyone state with sincerity that Pharoah's 23.18 and 23.60 seconds 3rd and 4th quarter splits while dueling with a Grade 1 winning horse on his outside wouldn't have softened up ANY horse for the last quarter of a 10 furlong race?
  4. Back to Lezcano's ride aboard Frosted that even "surprised" his trainer's expectation, which was to lay a few lengths off the leader(s).  Do you realize that had Joel Rosario not been thrown from his long-shot mount (Bourbon Courage) just 2 races prior to the Travers, we're probably seeing a replay of the Haskell? Talk about the Saratoga jinx, Graveyard of Champions/Favorites, whatever you want to call it!
  5. Going back a race, I haven't commented (sans Twitter) on Pharoah since his smashing Triple Crown triumph, but how about the ease of his impressive score in the Haskell at Monmouth Park blazing a mile in 1:34.44 before "foxtrot" Victor wrapped him up? While Keen Ice would not have caught him on that day, his strong late charge was a sign that he was well capable of the upset if things went his way.
  6. Who else believed that Baffert would bypass Saratoga, not to dodge the tougher field, but to space out the pre-BC races better and rack up another easy win in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 19th?  To that point, who else was overly optimistic and booked a flight and room? (I'm holding my hand up!)
  7. Even in spite of the champ's loss in the Travers, who currently supports the decision Zayat/Baffert made to bring their champ to Saratoga given the unprecedented coverage and attention he received at the Spa?  (I'm halfway holding my hand up, pending the Breeders' Cup outcome!)
  8. Assuming Pharoah makes his swan song at Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup, how much excitement is bubbling with his likely presence, along with Beholder (either race), Wise Dan and European star, Gleneagles? Anyone else thinking about the epic Tiznow vs. Giant's Causeway battle in the 2000 edition at Churchill? Further, would the cagey white fox (aka Bob Baffert) consider the Dirt Mile if he can't gear the big guy up for the demanding 10 furlong distance after his current break?
  9. Can American Pharoah regain the luster from racing journalists and fans with a Breeders' Cup victory whereby he would still be mentioned in the same breath with the elite sophomores Secretariat, Citation, Rachel Alexandra, Seattle Slew/Affirmed?
  10. After an incredible run with historic superstars such as Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Curlin and Wise Dan the last few years (with Frankel, Black Caviar and Goldikova internationally), will American Pharoah be the caboose in this string of greats or could there be a brighter start yet emerging???  I have to end it there, this is the most perplexing question so far...