It is tempting to say, "I saw it coming," because the Pharoah has earned more air miles than a business class flier in 2015, as he traveled between California and Kentucky, or Maryland and whatever race destination might follow. Think of an eight race win streak that includes seven grade 1 wins in 385 days. Consider the physical toll training exacts from an athlete and add the emotionally and physically draining rush of adrenaline needed to compete Still, it may have just been a bad day at the races for American Pharoah.
But American Pharoah was spent, his head bobbing up and down, his energy and momentum drained away by the duel with Frosted that covered the third quarter in 23.60 seconds. He looked for all the world like a child's sad hobby horse.
Espinoza later said, ".. I feel like from the five-eighths pole, his energy level, it was not the same like before...I noticed the horse that was next to me, I was trying to open it up and not let them get close. And he (American Pharoah) just stayed in the same place."
Trainer Bob Baffert said, "He was empty, empty at the top of the stretch and he was still trying to win. I thought there was still a chance."
When the fast closing Keen Ice came to the tiring American Pharoah, he had nothing for him and AP finished three quarters of a length back in second place. Keen Ice had but one victory in his previous ten starts, running a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes.
Baffert said, " I could tell he wasn't on his A game today, but he tried hard. I could tell by Victor's body language that we were in trouble at the half-mile pole, and the only reason we ran second was because he (American Pharoah) is such a great horse. The winner ran a really good race." Of Frosted's effort, "...he (American Pharoah) was getting pressured from a very good horse. He never left us alone. You can't blame them, It was just an aggressive, competitive ride."
Copyright, September 29, 2015 by Loren Schumacher
All photos in the public domain