“Saturday at Keeneland became a day when the routine became spectacular, when what was expected and obvious became celebrated like it was a stunning surprise,” columnist Bill Dwyre writes in the L.A. Times.
“Which was exactly the appropriate reaction.
American Pharoah won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the $5-million horse race for all comers that was designed to, and usually succeeds, in establishing the best of the best.
“American Pharoah didn’t need any showcasing. He simply deserved it.
“He had already won the Triple Crown. No horse had done that in 37 years, going back to the legendary Affirmed in 1978. Being one of those 12, American Pharoah was already legendary. But thanks to horse racing’s creation of this annual tap-into-Fort-Knox gathering, this year’s worth $26 million over two days, American Pharoah had the opportunity for a cherry on his whipped cream.
“The Breeders’ Cup began in 1984, so this was the first chance for a Triple Crown winner to double down. American Pharoah did so, by a dazzling 6 1/2 lengths.
“His trainer, Bob Baffert, who pulled the strings and kept the faith and remained cool right to the end of this all Saturday, might have best established what sort of historical perspective we ought to have for his horse.
“‘Growing up, Secretariat was the greatest horse I ever saw, watched run,’ he said. ‘Just to be close to him, or in the same sentence as him … I can’t judge … how great he [Pharoah] is or whatever.’
“Neither can the rest of us. We all have seen film of Secretariat’s 31-length romp in the 1973 Belmont. That stands as the defining testimony of his greatness.
“But Saturday, we saw similar greatness, even if American Pharoah’s romp was more a definition than a demolition.”