Can American Pharoah still win the Breeders' Cup Classic
September 8 - The shine is officially off of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah after he was edged by Keen Ice at the Travers Stakes in Saratoga this past weekend, coming into that race as a big favorite and losing down the stretch - a place where he has dominated so much this racing season.
Despite that loss, American Pharoah is still the chalk for the Breeders' Cup Classic in October, but could this past weekend's race build the blueprint for beating the first Triple Crown winner since 1976? Here are three things to consider before you start online horse wagering while we wait for the Breeders' Cup Classic:
He was bullied
When you're the Triple Crown champ, you've got a target on your back. Opposing jockeys are going to push you - both literally and figuratively. That's what happened at Saratoga, as Frosted and jockey Jose Lezcano - who was a last-second replacement - pushed American Pharoah hard and battled him for every step. That forced AP to out of his comfort zone and threw a wrench in Victor Espinoza's game plan, with the focus on Frosted and not the race as a whole.
He was beat
Keen Ice played it cool in the Travers - pardon the pun. He sat back and watched Frosted bump and bash American Pharoah off his stride and when the champ seemed staggered, jockey Javier Castellano made his move. Much like American Pharoah turning it on down the stretch in the Haskell Invitation, leaving Keen Ice in his dust for a second-place finish, Keen Ice was the horse pushing to the front in the final strides of the Travers. American Pharoah had hit the wall, something many didn't think existed for this horse.
How will he react?
Horse racing really wanted American Pharoah to keep rolling. He would have put his name atop the greatest champions of all time had he taken the Travers. And he still has a chance, if he can win the Breeders' Cup Classic for the Grand Slam of horse racing. American Pharoah and his team, a 2/1 front runner for the October 31 race, has had its worst fears realized - they lost. But all champions must suffer defeat before learning how to win. Trainer Bob Baffert and Espinoza will study what went wrong at Saratoga and a motivated American Pharoah could be something to see when the gates open at Keeneland on Halloween.
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