SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - So when will we see American Pharoah run again? Probably never.
After Pharoah's second-place finish behind long shot Keen Ice in Saturday's Travers Stakes, which ended his winning streak at eight, owner Ahmed Zayat suggested it may be time to retire his Triple Crown winner.
"I haven't spoken to my family and Bob [Baffert],'' Zayat said, "but you start questioning yourself. Have I pushed the envelope too much? You have to say to yourself, 'Is the show over? Is it the time?' "
Zayat's comments came about 15 minutes after the race. Immediately after the Travers, trainer Baffert was asked about his superstar's future on NBC's telecast.
"I want to see how taxing the race was on him and then we'll sit down and figure out what's next for him,'' Baffert said. "I'm not used to being in this position with him. It's hard to digest right now.''
Coolmore International, the world's most powerful racing and breeding conglomerate, owns American Pharoah's stallion rights. Starting next year, he will stand at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky. Coolmore surely does not want to risk the possibility of consecutive career-ending defeats, which would tarnish Pharoah's reputation and probably lower his stud fee.
Racing him again would have much downside and very little upside. Zayat has been insisting that the rest of the year is all about protecting Pharoah's legacy, and Baffert had been adamant about not wanting to see him lose. His mantra since the Belmont Stakes is if Pharoah isn't at the top of his game, he won't run him.
As Baffert recently said, "He has nothing to prove. He doesn't owe us anything.''
He admitted after the Travers that perhaps the colt's grueling travel schedule may have been asking too much. "We knew we were doing the impossible shipping him back and forth, back and forth,'' Baffert said. "It's sad to see him get beat.''
It sounds as if it's time to say goodbye.