SARATOGA SPRINGS — Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and trainers Todd Pletcher and Jack Fisher will represent the Class of 2021 for induction into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in the contemporary category.
American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 2015 to become the first horse to sweep all three since Affirmed in 1978.
Pletcher, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in the first year he was eligible, has won more Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer (seven) than anyone, ranks No. 1 all-time in career earnings and has trained 11 champions.
Fisher ranks second all-time in career steeplechase earnings, behind only Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, and was chosen by the museum’s Steeplechase Review Committee, which meets once every four years.
American Pharoah became the 12th Triple Crown winner when he won the Belmont Stakes on June 6, 2015, and he lost just two of 11 career starts, one of which was a second to Keen Ice in the Travers at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah rebounded from the Travers to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6 1/2 lengths.
“He’s certainly among the all-time greats, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Baffert said in a release from the Hall of Fame. He did everything so effortlessly and with such class. The way he moved, the mechanics were absolutely flawless. He also has such a wonderful personality. Pharoah is really a sweet and kind horse, and he loves humans.”
In fact, despite losing the Travers, Baffert brought American Pharoah out of his stall the next morning and accepted treats and pats on the neck from hundreds of well-wishers along the fenceline at his barn on the Saratoga backstretch.
“Winning the Triple Crown with American Pharoah was the greatest sports moment of my life,” said Baffert, who won another Triple Crown with Justify in 2018 and won his seventh Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit last Saturday.
“It was so emotional and such a terrific thing for racing. He deserves all the accolades he gets.”
Pletcher’s Eclipse Award winners include Hall of Famer Ashado, English Channel, Fleet Indian, Lawyer Ron, Left Bank, Rags to Riches, Shanghai Bobby, Speightstown, Wait a While, Uncle Mo and Vino Rosso.
An assistant to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas from 1989-95, Pletcher has won the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017); the Belmont with Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017); and the Travers with Flower Alley (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2011).
When Rags to Riches outdueled Curlin in the Belmont, she became the first filly to win that race since 1905.
“I’m really humbled to be elected to the Hall of Fame,” Pletcher said. “It’s an incredible honor and something that doesn’t happen without great support around you. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a great team to work with, and my family has been with me every step of the way.
“Training horses is all I ever wanted to do. I remember being 11 or 12 and telling my mom I wanted to train, and she said it was wonderful. From that point on with her endorsement, I never thought of doing anything else.”
Pletcher has won a total of 60 individual meet training titles, 14 of which have come at Saratoga, including the 2020 meet.
Fisher trained two-time Eclipse Award winner and Hall of Famer Good Night Shirt and two other champions, Scorpiancer and Moscato.
More from The Daily Gazette: