American Pharoah: Saratoga Springs Hopes For Historic Visit Amid Competition

Within moments after American Pharoah’s historic win of the 2015 Triple Crown, the phone of Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, began to fill with messages about the future of the now legendary horse.

“It wasn’t five minutes after the race and I had 10 text messages from people saying we need to do everything we can to get this horse to come here,” he recalled.

Nestled in the Adirondack foothills, Saratoga Springs is home to the country’s oldest thoroughbred racing track, as the Associated Press points out. A place where horses are ubiquitous, appearing in artwork along the busy main street and forming the basis of much of the local economy, Saratoga is in an American Pharoah state of mind following the historic win, as speculation about the horse’s future runs rampant.

“I was in two coffee shops this morning and I couldn’t get through them without people saying, ‘Do you think there’s any chance?'” Shimkus said. “This horse is a rock star.”

Saratoga boasts two major races which could attract American Pharoah. The Jim Dandy Stakes, held on August 1, and the Travers Stakes, run on August 29, often draw a number of the sport’s top horses. The Travers Stakes, in particular, dates to 1864, the first season of racing held in Saratoga. By far the season’s biggest race, the $1.25 million Travers regularly attracts top three-year-old horses, and could be a welcome stop for American Pharoah.

As the Times Union points out, Bob Baffert, American Pharoah’s trainer, was asked on the Belmont backstretch what the future would hold for the horse. Acknowledging that Saratoga Springs might be in the mix, he asserted that American Pharoah would likely run in the Travers if the decision is made to bring him to that track. In the past, Baffert has seen strong performance at the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park, another strong contender for American Pharoah. When those horses that do well at Monmouth come to Saratoga, however, the results are anything but sure.

“If American Pharoah goes to the Haskell, it’s hard to make that (Travers) double for some reason,” Baffert said the day after the race. “Saratoga is sort of a gimmicky race track. I don’t think you can do both (Haskell and Travers). I did it with Point Given, but it was a little hard on him.”

Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah’s owner, has said that the horse will remain in training through the end of the year, leaving the decision of what races they will next attempt to Baffert, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Despite growing local excitement, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association asserted that it is still too soon to address what could be done to bring American Pharoah to Saratoga Springs this summer.

[Photo by Elsa / Getty Images]