American Pharoah is a beautiful Thoroughbred racehorse who made history on race courses and brought home the Triple Crown after thirty-odd years and then wrapped up his brilliant career with the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Fans and racing aficionados voted American Pharoah to be Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year racking up the highest numbers, but when the time came to award the title, the magazine “suddenly discovered” Pharoah was a horse and fleeced him out of the title. This proved to be only a minor hiccup to American Pharoah’s worldwide fame. He went on to win the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male, and on Jan. 25, Pharoah brought home the title of Kentucky Sportsman of the Year.
Darrell Bird of The Cats’ Pause echoed the thoughts of many when he wrote, “National pundits might be unable to bring themselves to name a horse as Sportsman of the Year, but we have no problem with it here in Kentucky.”
The Kentucky Sportsman of the Year award has been in existence for 35 years, and the talented fan-favorite three-year-old stallion is the first horse to win this title. Previously, Sunday Silence was named as a finalist and voting placed him into fourth place in 1989.
The epic Thoroughbred star of 2015 horse racing is American Pharoah, and the class act of his entourage – owner Amed Zayat, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza – deserves acknowledgment for their care and devotion to the horse and permitting both media and public such superb access to this astonishing horse.
Based on figures by the source of this story, Herald-Leader, American Pharoah racked up a record 141 first-place votes out of a record 163 votes by the Kentucky media. Pharoah was eligible to be considered as an award contender since he was foaled in Kentucky at Stockplace Farm, Lexington. For that matter, American Pharoah scored an 897-point winning margin over the next nominee in the sports magazine poll. The various points for both sportsmen awards were historical numbers.
Three media members summed it all up best. Terry Meiners of WHAS-AM in Louisville wrote: “There was American Pharoah, and there (were) all the others chasing him. Love that boy and what he did for Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry.”
According to Drew Deener of Louisville’s WHBE-AM and WLCL-FM, he noted, “I’ve waited my entire life to see a Triple Crown winner and wondered if it could live up to expectations. It exceeded them. The roar of the Belmont crowd is something that will stick with me my entire life.”
But the short statement from Curtis Burch of Lexington’s WLAP-AM ultimately expresses the vast public’s views:
I don’t care if American Pharoah is not a person. This horse was the story of the year.
American Pharoah, with fanfare, titles and championships swirling around him, remains cool and content as he begins his second career as a sire at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.