It’s Kentucky Derby week! The Week of the Horse. Even though some say horse racing is on the wane, you would never know it this week. In fact, you would never know it in Kentucky at all. Kentucky is the thoroughbred horse capital of the world though others try, on occasion, to steal that claim to fame. They have never succeeded! Particularly not after the 2015 Kentucky Derby. America and, perhaps the world, fell in love with a plain brown colt named American Pharoah. Even his name was misspelled! But Pharoah didn’t let that or anything else stop him. He won the Kentucky Derby, and then the Triple Crown coupled with the Breeder’s Cup Classic. He was the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won it and the first Grand Slam winner ever…….the Grand Slam being all four races.
What is so special about this brown colt, born and bred in Kentucky? Some horses are just special. Secretariat was special, like Seattle Slew and Man ‘O War were special. Pharoah has a gentle temperament. Thoroughbred horses are known for many things but a gentle temperament is not one of them. Instead, many are temperamental and nervous. Pharoah loves his adoring public and during his racing seasons, and now while he is standing at stud, his public goes to visit him in hordes.
Something else special about American Pharoah. For over 40 years, horse racing has been trying to find another Secretariat, that very special big red horse that won the Triple Crown and broke all speed records. Secretariat certainly posted a faster time in the Belmont Stakes than Pharoah, but unbelievably, Pharoah actually accelerated in the final quarter mile of the Belmont, won the race going away, and beat Secretariat’s quarter mile time by 0.68 of a second.
I personally know Pharoah loves his tribe because I am one of them and I have visited Pharoah at his home at Ashford Stud near Versailles, KY. He poses for the crowds, tall and proud. He is not a bit nervous but very calm. When you get close to him, he has a kind, quiet look in his eyes and he meets your gaze lovingly. He does not shy away. They say that now, even during his breeding season, he is still our calm, sweet Pharoah even while getting at least 80 mares in foal. I can’t wait for his first foal.
In some ways, American Pharoah revived horse racing. He retired to stud with a record of 9-1-0. Not only does he have a breeding career ahead of him, you can’t turn around in Kentucky without seeing someone wearing some piece of American Pharoah merchandise……a jacket, a cap, or something.
They say he loves to go out in his paddock in the mornings before his breeding and public visiting sessions and have a run and a good roll in the mud. Just once, I would like to climb over that paddock fence onto his back, go for that run with him, feel his powerful muscles, and see the world through those big brown eyes. #anericanpharoah #kentuckyderby #triplecrown