American Pharoah is back on the track after securing horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 37 years.
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Owner Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert entered their 3-year-old colt into the Haskell Invitational, which will be held Sunday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
This year’s race will be the most lucrative Haskell in history. Officials increased the purse $750,000 to $1.75 million earlier this week, with $1.1 million allocated for the winner. Second place will net $350,000.
American Pharoah was installed as the 1-5 favorite to take the Haskell, beating seven other horses.
John Heims, Monmouth Park’s director of media relations, said the racetrack is preparing for a crowd of 60,000 people, but attendance will not be capped if more fans show up. The attendance record at Monmouth Park is 53,638, set in 2003 when Funny Cide joined the field for the Haskell.
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With interest through the roof because of American Pharoah’s presence this year, local officials are encouraging fans to use public transportation, and Monmouth Park raised parking fees across the board. General parking will cost $20, up from the usual rate of $4. Valet parking jumped to $40 from $10.
The decision to place American Pharoah in the 48th running of the Haskell, which is sponsored by U.K.-based bookmaker William Hill, did not come as a surprise. Zayat Stables is based in Hackensack, N.J., and Baffert has won more times at the Haskell (seven) than any other trainer.
American Pharoah should provide a boost to the New Jersey thoroughbred scene as a court fight continues over sports betting at racetracks and casinos. The case is pending a decision by a federal appeals court in Philadelphia.
Heims said “additional sponsorships came along” for Monmouth Park thanks to American Pharoah. More companies expressed interest in Haskell Sunday once it became clear that the Triple Crown winner was on his way to the Jersey Shore.
Monmouth Park, which opened 70 years ago, is owned by New Jersey’s Sports and Exposition Authority. The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association leases and operates the track through Darby Development LLC.
American Pharoah has been a boon to its owners, too.
The horse’s racing winnings this year total $4.17 million through five races, all of them first-place finishes.
Prior to the Belmont Stakes in early June, breeding rights were sold to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky for an undisclosed amount. Last month, Betfair placed 3-5 odds that American Pharoah’s stud fee in 2016 will be $175,000 to $200,000 per live foal. The most expensive stallion is currently Tapit at $300,000.
Zayat Stables recently launched a website, OfficialAmericanPharoah.com, which lists a variety of merchandise for sale. A Triple Crown champion t-shirt has a price tag of $25, while an American Pharoah photo signed by jockey Victor Espinoza goes for $200.