Triple Crown winner American Pharoah couldn’t hold off the stretch run of Keen Ice in the Travers at Saratoga. American Pharoah’s winning streak was snapped at eight races and owner Ahmed Zayat wondered aloud whether it is time to retire the colt.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The day after American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes and became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, trainer Bob Baffert already was leery of Saratoga in the summer.
He had every reason to be — and American Pharoah might have run his last race Saturday.
The famous track lived up to its reputation as the “Graveyard of Favorites” when 16-1 shot Keen Ice beat American Pharoah by three-quarters of a length in the $1.6 million Travers.
“I feel bad for the horse getting beat like that,” a disappointed Baffert said. “You can tell he wasn’t on his ‘A’ game. Pharoah tried very hard. He didn’t have the power he usually has.”
Ahmed Zayat, owner of American Pharoah, was emotional after the loss and repeatedly wondered aloud if the Travers was his colt’s final race.
“My gut feeling is, if this horse is 1 percent not the American Pharoah that we cherish, the show’s over,” Zayat was quoted as saying in The Saratogian.
American Pharoah, who went off at 0.35-to-1 odds, had his winning streak snapped at eight.
“He put in a brave run, but it wasn’t good enough,” Zayat said.
Keen Ice, trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Javier Castellano, was off the pace as American Pharoah, with Victor Espinoza aboard, and 7-1 shot Frosted dueled for the lead.
Frosted, ridden by Jose Lezcano, was in front after a mile, but American Pharoah fought back and was ahead by a half-length with a furlong to run. Espinoza was not happy with Lezcano and told SI.com, “I think he was trying to hurt American Pharoah.”
Keen Ice ran 1¼ miles in 2 minutes, 1.57 seconds and paid $34 to win in the Grade I race for 3-year-olds.
Keen Ice had three previous races against American Pharoah, finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Belmont Stakes and second in the Aug. 2 Haskell at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
Romans, before mentioning other Triple Crown winners who later lost, said, “American Pharoah’s legacy is not tarnished in any way.”