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|08-02-2015, 06:50 PM||#1|
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Triple Crown winner American Pharoah wins Haskell in return
American Pharoah turned on the speed in the stretch and easily won the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday in his first race since sweeping the Triple Crown.
With a record crowd of 60,983 cheering him at Monmouth Park, American Pharoah came out of the final turn with a clear lead and cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory without urging from jockey Victor Espinoza.
American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the first 12th Triple Crown winner, and first in 37 years. After a 57-day break after the Belmont, the 3-year-old colt looked better than ever in winning his eighth consecutive race.
Sent off at odds of 1-10, American Pharoah became the shortest price in Haskell history, returning $2.20 for a $2 win bet.
Keen Ice rallied for second at 18-1 odds, followed by Upstart, Competitive Edge, Top Clearance, Dontbetwithbruno and Mr. Jordan. The winning time for the 1 1/8-mile race was 1:47.95 -- 95th hundreds of a second off the Haskell record.
American Pharoah's next start is now the biggest question in racing. There's no answer yet, but options include the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 29, the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 19, and the Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 26.
"No clue," American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat said when asked about his colt's next race. "We're going to enjoy this moment."
If all goes according to plan, American Pharoah will run his final race in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky on Oct. 31. And then, he's headed down the road to the breeding shed at Coolmore's Ashford Stud.
American Pharoah broke well from post No. 4, but it was Competitive Edge who took the early lead. Espinoza kept his horse in second until midway on the far turn. And then, with one overpowering surge he seized control and was alone in the stretch as the crowd roared.
"He ran like a champ," Espinoza said.
The final margin was deceptive since Espinoza never asked American Pharoah to run any harder than necessary.
"The horse, he just keeps bringing it," Bob Baffert said after his eighth win in the Haskell, five more than any other trainer.
Of the 12 Crown winners, eight have now won in their first race after the Belmont. One, Count Fleet, was retired after the 1943 Belmont with an injury.
American Pharoah opened his career with a loss, but has won eight in a row since -- seven of them Grade 1 races. With the $1.1 million payday in the Haskell, the son of Pioneerof the Nile's career earnings soared to $5.6 million.
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