Horse racing: Triple Crown hero Pharoah bows out in Classic style

American Pharoah #4, ridden by Victor Espinoza wins the field during the Breeders' Cup Classic during day two of the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland Racecourse on Oct 31, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.
American Pharoah #4, ridden by Victor Espinoza wins the field during the Breeders' Cup Classic during day two of the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland Racecourse on Oct 31, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - American Pharoah, who electrified US racing with his run to the first Triple Crown sweep in 37 years, capped his career with an emphatic victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic in Kentucky on Saturday.

Before a frenzied crowd at Keeneland, in Lexington, Kentucky, American Pharoah set the pace in the US$5 million (S$7 million) classic and pulled away in the final straight to beat Effinex by 61/2 lengths.

It was the ninth win in 11 career starts for the three-year-old colt - a record that included the first sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes since Affirmed achieved the treble in 1978.

"What can I say? What a horse!" said owner Ahmed Zayat. "He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. This race was only about American Pharoah and we wanted him to go out a winner.

"It was so emotional. I didn't even see the final eighth (of a mile) because I had my eyes closed the whole time."

After piloting American Pharoah to one last win, jockey Victor Espinoza said he was happy to see the horse heading into retirement. "He's run so many times this year and I think it's time for him to step out and have a nice life," Espinoza said.

The two-day, 13-race thoroughbred extravaganza provided no fairy-tale ending for European superstar Golden Horn.

Found, the filly trained by Ireland's Aidan O'Brien denied Golden Horn in the US$3 million Breeders' Cup Turf to spoil the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner's swansong.

Golden Horn was the star of a strong European contingent, coming off victories at the Epsom Derby and Eclipse Stakes as well as the Arc.

But trainer John Gosden worried the loose, sand-based turf course at Keeneland wouldn't suit him and he was right.

Although Golden Horn was the first to get past early pace-setter Shining Copper in the 11/2-mile race, jockey Ryan Moore had Found perfectly positioned and the filly came out on top in a dramatic stretch duel.

With the win Found turned the tables on Golden Horn after finishing runner up to him at the Irish Champion Stakes and at Ascot on Champions Day.

"She really deserved this," said Moore.

Gosden was relieved that the race produced a European one-two, after stunning disappointment for the trans-Atlantic raiders in the US$2 million Mile.

Four-year-old filly Tepin, trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, seized the win over Mondialiste and Grand Arch as a string of talented European turf runners - including defending Mile champion Karakontie, French hopes Esoterique and Make Believe and the Roger Charlton-trained Time Test failed to produce.

"Today was a good field," Leparoux said when asked if his mount could now be considered among the top turf runners in the world. "The Europeans came with a strong bunch but she won easy."

Kentucky-bred Stephanie's Kitten, a six-year-old trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz, won the Filly and Mare Turf ahead of odds-on favorite Legatissimo, who arrived Stateside off of wins in Group One races at Goodwood and the Curragh.

The Turf Sprint lent an international flavour to the day, thanks to the upset win of Mongolian Saturday.

Although the five-year-old gelding was bred in Kentucky, trainer Enebish Ganbat cut his teeth training hardy Mongolian ponies to race endurance events in his native land before moving to America to train thoroughbreds for his friend Ganbaatar Dagvadorj, founder of Mongolian Stable.

With US-based French jockey aboard, Mongolian Saturday moved clear just after the turn and held off a late charge to beat Lady Shipman by a neck in the US$1 million, 51/2-furlong race.

The 3-1 favourite Undrafted finished fifth.

"For us, it's a big dream as Mongolians to participate in this big event," said Dagvadorj, who turned out with the rest of his camp in traditional Mongolian attire. "As a Mongolian, we ride horses starting at age four. So, yeah, it's our tradition just to race with the horse."