The final start in the career of the 12th Triple Crown champion was even more majestic and lopsided than his coronation in the Belmont Stakes as American Pharoah overpowered seven rivals and cruised to a 6 ½-length victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, making him the first horse to notch a historic “Grand Slam” of wins in all three spring classics and the centerpiece stakes at the world championships.
Closing out his career with nine wins in 11 starts, American Pharoah pushed his career earnings to $8,650,300 with the winner’s check of $2,750,000 and will now begin his new career as a sire at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.
His final performance will be long remembered. In front of a crowd of 50,155, American Pharoah seized command of the race at the start and never relinquished it.
In a field that was reduced to eight when the brilliant mare Beholder and Smooth Roller were scratched, the defections also removed the most likely candidates to push the Zayat Stables superstar in the early going.
Running on cruise control, American Pharoah was ahead by a length after a half-mile in 47.50 seconds with 33-1 shot Effinex his closest pursuer.
On the final turn, jockey Victor Espinoza asked the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile for some kick and he pulled away from his overmatched foes.
By the top of the stretch, the race was over. The 3-5 favorite ($3.40) extended to a 5-length lead at the eighth pole and continued to widen that margin under Espinoza until he crossed the finish line in a record-breaking 2:00.07 for the mile and a quarter.
Effinex wound up second, 4 ½ lengths clear of Met Mile/Whitney winner Honor Code, the 9-2 second choice. Keen Ice, who defeated American Pharoah in the Travers at Saratoga, was fourth, 12 ½ lengths behind racing’s first Grand Slam champion.
“I think this horse has brought so much to racing and it’s been a privilege to train him. It’s been a privilege to watch him train, to watch him breeze,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He gave everyone what they came to see today. That’s what horse racing is about."