September 3, 2015 / 5:08 PM / 4 years ago

American Pharoah set for Breeders' Cup farewell

(Reuters) - Horse racing fans will get the chance to watch Triple Crown winner American Pharoah end his stellar career at the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic next month, his owner said on Thursday after weighing up the colt’s options.

Jun 6, 2015; Elmont, NY, USA; American Pharoah with Victor Espinoza wins the 2015 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Owner and breeder Ahmed Zayat had been leaning “60-40” to retiring the 3-year-old to stud after American Pharoah finished a shocking second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

However, Zayat eventually decided that the horse deserved “another chance” after he had lengthy discussions with trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Victor Espinoza, assistant trainer Jim Barnes and his son Justin Zayat.

“I have decided to continue to race American Pharoah! The champ deserves another chance!” owner Zayat tweeted.

In a statement released to and Daily Racing Form, Zayat said: “I am very confident in my decision. Not a moment has gone by since the race on Saturday when I have not thought about this decision.

“My initial concern right after the race was about American Pharoah’s condition, because he did not run his ‘A’ race. He has come out of the race in great shape.

“I believe there was a combination of factors that prevented American Pharoah from running his absolute best on Saturday. I have every confidence that he can run to his best again, and he deserves the chance to do so.”

American Pharoah entered the pantheon of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s all-time greats by winning the Belmont Stakes wire-to-wire in June to become the first horse to capture the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ in nearly four decades.

In winning a seventh straight race, American Pharoah became the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

After making his farewell racing performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 31, the muscular son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile will then retire to stud.

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue

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