American Pharoah is one of the most famous and legendary thoroughbreds ever to have graced horse racing.

Known for his remarkable series of wins in 2015, which included the Triple Crown, he was foaled in 2012 and owned by Ahmed Zayat. Being bred at Zayat Stables turned out to be a stroke of pure luck for American Pharoah because, without Zayat, his career could have been very different.

Having seen the potential in his young horse, his owner decided to send him to the yearling sales in Saratoga in 2013. Despite the lower posted minimum sale price, Zayat had decided he wouldn’t let him go for less than a million dollars.

When little interest was shown in the young colt, through his agent, Zayat bought back his own horse for the minimum of $300,000 and was sent to Florida to begin his training.

After a successful year, he was sent to world-renowned trainer Bob Baffert in early 2014 and debuted in a Maiden at Del Mar Racetrack in August of the same year.

It wasn’t a particularly good run, and Baffert quickly addressed the issues for subsequent races by removing his hood and putting cotton wool in his ears to dampen the paddock noise. And it worked.

The following month, in his next race out, he won by nearly five lengths, and the wins just kept coming.


By 2015, American Pharoah was three years old and at his peak for the season ahead. He won his first two races at Oaklawn Park before connections started eyeing the Kentucky Derby.

So on he went to Churchill Downs, going off as favourite in a field of 18 horses. With his now familiar jockey Victor Espinoza on board, he was held back in third place for most of the race before taking the lead in the final furlong.

With the Kentucky Derby in the bag, Breeders Cup betting was heating up, but before he could make his mark there, he had to face the Preakness Stakes and the second leg of the Triple Crown.

With the rain pouring down and American Pharoah in the number one berth against the rail, it was an uphill battle but one he was ready for.

Despite tough competition, he changed gears on the home stretch and ultimately won the race by seven lengths.

Only the Belmont Stakes could prevent a Triple Crown win, and in June 2015, American Pharoah took on five of his Kentucky Derby rivals in the eight-horse field, steadily increasing his lead as the race continued.

He became only the twelfth horse in history to win the Triple Crown and the first since 1978. It also made him a household name, so much so that he was photographed for Vogue and even made the cover of Sports Illustrated!

But it wasn’t all plain sailing as the next two races took their toll a little, with American Pharoah losing the second, the Travers Stakes, in Saratoga.

Undeterred, Zayat announced that the colt would be heading to the Breeders Cup Classic on October 31, where he duly repaid the faith his owner had in him by not only winning the race as the favourite, but by setting a new track record with a time of 2:00.07, five seconds faster than the previous top mark.

No other horse in racing history had ever won all four races in the same season. However, with American Pharoah seemingly doing the impossible, a new name was given to the feat – the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing.

He is still the only horse to have won it.

Faster Than Secretariat?

It’s almost impossible to determine which horse is better – American Pharoah or Secretariat, as both have set different records throughout their respective careers.

A side-by-side comparison still doesn’t do any justice, but the stats are the stats.

Wins: Secretariat had a longer career, winning 16 races from 21 starts, while American Pharoah won 9 from 11 starts. However, percentage-wise, that is a win rate of 76.19% for Secretariat but 81.82% for American Pharoah.

Triple Crown: Both won the Triple Crown, but Secretariat holds the record for fastest winning times in all three races. But again, American Pharoah also won the Breeders Cup and is the only horse in the world to have achieved the Grand Slam.

Top Speed: This is a little clearer cut, as Secretariat was faster than American Pharoah. Not only did he set track records, but his average speed across all of his races was higher.

Overall, Secretariat is often regarded as being the better of the two horses, given his speed and length of dominance in the sport. Still, no other horse has ever achieved the dizzying heights of American Pharoah, so picking them apart is relatively futile.

Retirement & Stud Fees

American Pharoah is the horse of a lifetime. At the end of 2015, he was retired, at which point speculation was rife about how much Zayat could command for his stud fees.

It turns out that $200,000 was the magic number, and with at least 80 mares in foal, hopes were high for his offspring.

Like many other incredible horses, the genes don’t always trickle down. Still, American Pharoah had some success with Maven, his first North American winner, before taking the Prix du Bois at Chantilly Racecourse.

American Pharoah also sired three entries in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, with Four Wheel Drive winning the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Since 2015, his stud fee has been reduced, partly because his progeny has not been overwhelmingly successful, and it now stands at $50,000 per cover.

Where Is American Pharoah Now?

American Pharoah lives in Kentucky at Ashford Stud, a branch of Ireland’s Coolmore Stud.

He is still retired to stud and spends six months in Australia each year for the breeding season in the southern hemisphere.

Whether or not he will sire a champion as incredible as himself remains to be seen, but for now, he still remains one of the greatest horses to have ever lived.