Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will make his next start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., on Aug. 2, owner Ahmed Zayat told ESPN.com on Thursday evening.
That would still leave two logical opportunities for American Pharoah to run at Saratoga Race Course later in the summer, the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29 and the Woodward against older horses on Saturday, Sept. 5.
The nine-furlong Haskell makes a lot of sense for American Pharoah’s first start since completing the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6.
Not only does Zayat reside in Teaneck, N.J., but Baffert has won the Haskell seven times, including last year with Bayern, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“We’re overjoyed,” Monmouth Park president Bob Kulina told The Associated Press. “It’s a great day for New Jersey racing. It’s a great day for racing in general, that this horse is going to continue to run.
“We’re getting ready for the biggest day in the history of Monmouth Park.”
Until Thursday, the only concrete objective Zayat and Baffert have stated for the colt was the BC Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 31 before retiring the bay colt to stud. They want to race twice before that.
American Pharoah swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and the 12th overall.
Other than the two big Saratoga races, other races that could be on the radar for American Pharoah are the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx near Philadelphia on Sept. 19 and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 3.
American Pharoah breezed three furlongs in 36.40 at Santa Anita on Thursday in his first published workout since winning the Belmont on June 6.
In texts to The Blood-Horse, Baffert said American Pharoah “worked like the champ he is,” and Zayat texted one word, “Awesome.”
Of Baffert’s seven Haskell wins, four have come in the last five years.
Among the 12 Triple Crown winners, American Pharoah’s Belmont Stakes time of 2:26.65 is the second fastest only to Sectretariat’s 2:24 in 1973.
After losing his career debut at Del Mar last August, the California-based son of Pioneerof the Nile is undefeated in his last seven starts.