Written by Barbara Newtown
Original Publish Date June 2015
Thirty-seven years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown… Trainers, owners, jockeys, and fans have had high hopes thirteen times during those years, only to see those hopes dashed in the exhausting mile-and-a-half Belmont, the last and longest challenge.
Some humans lost faith. Do our horses lack stamina? Are three big races between early May and mid-June too much to ask? Were previous winners freaks of nature? The most controversial question: Was the Thoroughbred stud book, closed since 1791, in need of new blood?
American Pharoah proved the doubters wrong. He won the Belmont going away: he crossed the finish line five and a half lengths ahead of second-place Frosted. He showed adaptability: he prevailed in the Preakness despite rain and a sloppy track, and he came back to win on the dry Belmont dirt. He finished sound: his owners, the Zayat family, plan to enter the horse in more races during the rest of year. The racing public will have more opportunities to rejoice in the horse’s talent.
The most interesting aspect of American Pharoah is his unusual breeding. His sire line shows distance horses. His dam line shows speed. And he has schooled us all on what happens when you combine distance and speed: you go to the front, stay there, and add a few more lengths just because you can. Not as many lengths in front as Secretariat in the Belmont, but with similar heart and style.
American Pharoah’s pedigree:
|AMERICAN PHAROAH||PIONEEROF THE NILE||EMPIRE MAKER||UNBRIDLED|
|STAR of GOSHEN||LORD AT WAR|
|LITTLEPRINCESSEMMA||YANKEE GENTLEMAN||STORM CAT|
Let’s talk about money. Winning the Belmont brought Zayat Stables $800,000. But that is small change compared to what American Pharoah will earn when he “retires” to the breeding shed. The Zayats sold the breeding rights to Coolmore Ashford Stud for an estimated $13.8 million. (This sale took place in 2014, when American Pharoah was two years old; if the Zayats had held out until after the Belmont, they could have brought in twice as much. Or more.) Maggie McGrath of FORBES magazine reports that the accepted formula for determining a stallion’s earning potential in the breeding shed is to multiply his stud fee by several hundred mares. Good stallions might cover a hundred mares each year for several years; the most vigorous stallions might cover as many as 120 a year. And some stallions are potent into their late 20s. Estimating American Pharoah’s earnings conservatively, he could cover 100 mares over four years at $75,000 per breeding; the total would be $30 million. If his offspring can run and win, he might command $150,000 or more for quite a few years. Since Coolmore Ashford Stud has farms in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, American Pharoah could easily enjoy two breeding seasons a year. Okay: 120 mares (conservative number) x 150,000 x 15 years = $270 million. Is it time to buy stock in Coolmore Ashford Stud? (FORBES shows more caution: they estimate $50 million as a top number. Horses are not machines, after all.)
The Belmont upshot:
Order of Finish
|Pos||Horse / Age / Sex / TrueNicks / Pedigree||Jockey / Trainer||Margin||Earnings|
|7||Tale of Verve