American Pharoah on Triple Crown trail after Preakness win

American Pharoah pictured winning the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
American Pharoah pictured winning the Kentucky Derby on May 2. © Skip Dickstein

American Pharoah has stormed to victory in the second leg of US racing’s Triple Crown, taking out the Preakness Stakes by seven lengths in Maryland at Pimlico racecourse.

The three-year-old, ridden by Victor Esponoza, became the 14th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and now only the Belmont Stakes stands between him and racing’s ultimate prize. He won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month at Churchill Downs, and has now won six races in succession.

Trainer by Bob Baffert, the son of Pioneerof The Nile got the better of longshot Tale of Verve, with Divining Rod another length back in third.

There were eight starters in the dirt race over a mile and a sixteenth.

American Pharoah is owned by Egyptian businessman Ahmed Zayat, who turned Al Ahram Beverage Company into the largest beverage manufacturer and distributor in the Middle East before it was sold for $280 million to Heineken International. Sayat is also the largest shareholder in Misr Glass Manufacturing, the biggest producer of glass containers in Egypt.

His love of horses grew from competing in national show events in Egypt as a teenager, and he now has nearly 200 horses in training. He created Zayat Stables in 2005 and by 2008, was the leading owner nationally in purses won. In 2010, Zayat finished fourth in the US with earnings of nearly $4.1 million, ranked third in 2009 with more than $6.3 million, and last year won 36 races and nearly $3.1 million in purse money.

In 2009 the Pioneerof the Nile finished 11th in the Preakness, and Bodemeister finished second for the stable in 2012. Zayat also ran second in the 2011 Derby with Nehro.

While pharaoh is a name given to ancient Egyptian rulers, American Pharoah’s name was misspelled when chosen as the winner of Zayat Stables’ annual naming contest and went uncorrected when submitted to The Jockey Club.

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