November 2nd, 2015

It was a glorious late fall day the morning American Pharoah arrived at Ashford Stud, after a short van ride and police escort from Keeneland’s Rice Road barns where the Breeders’ Cup horses had been stabled.

He first had one more gathering of fans seeing him post-race at his barn on Sunday morning, graciously invited by his connections one more time.

In direct contrast to the day he raced, the sun brilliantly illuminated the reds and golds of the autumn leaves, and Pharoah’s coat. He glowed with health, and had a lovely coppery sheen.

Baffert accompanied his star, taking every opportunity to spend more time with the horse he’s already said he will miss tremendously. He fed him carrots and watched him settle in, along with Ashford employees. Pharoah is home now, a paragon of the racing world, settling in at one of the most renowned and lovely farms in the Bluegrass.

Tall and statuesque, he literally did pose like a statue, and that showed me for the first time how he is physical perfection as well as racing perfection. It was incredible to see how perfectly aligned he is, and how everything just flows so naturally from shoulder to withers to back to hip, how his mechanics are just about impeccable and it was something to marvel over. It showed how he was able to do what he did on the track with such ease, such perfection. I’ve been awed by horses, by the look in their eyes and their presence but I have never been awed by body mechanics but just like so much about Pharoah, they put him in another realm.

I wish him a long, happy, healthy retirement and I am filled with a deep gratitude for the memories of his career, and for being fortunate enough to be at his Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Coincidentally, my friend and I drove through Rice Road, where Pharoah had so recently been stabled and where earlier in the day I had walked through the Keeneland grounds while viewing sales horses. The Breeders’ Cup signs in the paddock were just then being removed, and they still hung in the windows at one of the entrances. It really felt like a kind of magic had happened there, and those memories still lingered sweetly, a permanent part of the history of this grand track. To me, it felt like we had seen a second coronation for American Pharoah, a further jewel to add to his crown.

That sense of timelessness I have so often felt at Keeneland swept through me again, and part of it all is the day that Pharoah conquered some of the best horses once more.