The American Pharoah ‘sweepstakes’ is over. On Thursday, the connections of the reigning Triple Crown winner announced that his next race would be the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, run over 1 1/8 mile at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park on August 2.
Monmouth had a huge advantage over Saratoga and the other suitors for American Pharoah–the ability to sweeten their deal with some cold, hard cash. The ‘special conditions’ for this race have been written in such a way that both trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat will receive a bonus of $75,000 each if American Pharoah starts the race. The purse for the Haskell is historically $1 million but there’s a chance that might also be raised to make the event more attractive to American Pharoah’s connections.
As for American Pharoah, he’s back in training in California. So far so good according to trainer Bob Baffert: “We were all waiting to see how American Pharoah worked and for me to give the OK. I liked the way he’s training, the way he worked, and how he came out of it very well. If everything goes well, we’ll go there. I’ll probably work him on Sunday or Monday. I’ll work him right before we go to Del Mar. He just jogged today. With this heat, I want to be careful. He lost some weight, but he put it back on again. That worked perked him up a bit.”
Owner Zayat was the one who first made the ‘American Pharoah to the Haskell’ news official. He went on to explain his decision further: “I’ve decided to do the logical step and run American Pharoah at Monmouth. I’m trying to create one of the best days racing has ever seen for its fans and one that will also fit the prestige that surrounds American Pharoah. I want it to be a great day for everyone that will celebrate racing.”
Monmouth Park is expecting a turnaway crowd for the Haskell Invitational. All 17,000 reserved seats at the facility have been sold in anticipating of American Pharoah’s start and the track is expecting to fill the 60,000 capacity facility setting a new track attendance record in the process.