It was a retirement party like no other.
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah arrived at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud on a cool autumn morning this week, ready to begin the next chapter of his historic career: early retirement.
The historic horse was the 6-and-a-half-length victor in the 1 and 1/4 mile Breeders’ Cup Classic that took place on October 31 at Lexington’s Keeneland Race Track in a track-record time of 2:00.07. American Pharoah became the first horse in history to complete the dubbed “Grand Slam” of horse racing: A Triple Crown victory (winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes) and a Breeders’ Cup Classic win.
Now, he rests. Sort of.
Arriving with a police escort, the unflappable 3-year-old walked calmly out of his van and strode easily past a throng of paparazzi to the Ashford stallion barn to his new digs. His trainer, the Hall of Fame horseman Bob Baffert, brought along a bag of baby carrots – the champ’s favorite treat – for good measure.
So what is retirement like for a champion, history-making 3-year-old? According to Ashford stallion manager Richard Barry, American Pharoah will be turned out in a paddock next to pensioned champion Thunder Gulch, who will serve as his 23-year-old babysitter.
“Young horses, when they get out, tend to run around a lot, and if they have company it just encourages them to run around,” Barry told BloodHorse. “But if you put a 23-year-old boy beside them, he’ll kind of look at him and go, ‘Son, you can run on your own.’ He’ll spend an hour looking at Thunder Gulch eating grass, and try to get him to run, and he won’t run anywhere, and then he’ll figure out that he should eat some grass himself.
“After that, it’s pretty easy. He’ll get into a routine, he’ll get turned out first thing in the morning. We’re in here at 6:30 a.m. He’ll get turned out as soon as it’s daylight, brought in before lunch, groomed… he’ll have to go through his shots and vaccinations, then we have to test-breed him just to show him what’s what, and we’ll wait then for the season to start. He’ll be in that basic routine until the season starts. When the season starts, we breed at 7:30 in the morning, 1:30 in the afternoon, 6:00 p.m. in the evening if necessary, and that’ll be the routine for the breeding season.”
What a life.
And just wait until they announce his stud fee.