After Triple Crown-winning thoroughbred American Pharoah runs the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31, competing for a first prize of $2.5-million, he will retire from racing and have the ultimate dream job for a virile stallion: Impregnating females for up to $250,000 a pop.
If he’s like other frisky horses on the stud circuit, the first Triple Crown champion in 37 years will be able to indulge in steamy equine action two or three times a day.
“The potential $2.5-million is a nice number,” says Peter Rotondo, director of entertainment for the Cup and a lifelong horseplayer. “However, rolling in the hay will add up to a lot more than he could have earned through racing.“
Apparently, the fact that his name is misspelled, a chunk of his tail has been chewed off, and that he’s easily startled (American Pharoah wears specially designed earplugs when he races) will not negatively impact his ability to perform when it counts.
And, lest you think it's all about sex, A.P. is no stranger to nuzzling, either. The horse's owner, Egyptian malt-beverage king Ahmed Zayat, likes to kiss American Pharoah on the nose after workouts. Perhaps that inter-species bromance contributes to his having finished first in all but one of his races.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be run in Lexington, KY, the cradle of American thoroughbred racing and the place where the race was conceived in 1982. With American Pharoah ranking as the first Triple Crown winner to compete in the Breeders’, he will most likely be a favorite to win—and draw massive attention to the event.
However, the real payoff for bettors will be in correctly picking a longshot—every horse in the race is first-rate and has a reasonable chance of acing it—or making the stars align with a so-called “exotic wager” for life-changing money.
And you don’t need to bet big to win big. Since the betting pools are so large for this race, even small wagers can pay off like lucky lottery tickets—or actually winning the race. In 2003, a casual horseplayer by the name of Graham Stone bought a single pick-six ticket for $8, selected the winners of six Breeders’ Cup races, and took down a $2.6-million jackpot.
While Rotondo understates that Graham, a low-rolling lifetime loser at the track (up until winning the 2.6-million) “got lucky on some level,” there was no luck involved for the previous year’s winners.
In 2002, three former frat brothers (including a computer engineer and an employee of Autotote, the company that processes most bets made on the race) collaborated to rig their betting and garner a seven-figure payout. Jail-time followed the windfall.
After ringleader Chris Harn ratted out his collaborators, attorney Ed Hayes described the roll-over as “like getting John Gotti to testify against a busboy for skimming tips.”
To win money legally this year, Rotondo suggests looking into the Superfecta, which requires picking the first four finishers in order. He likes American Pharoah on top, followed by horses such as Beholder, Tonalist, and Honor Code who is known for laying back during much of the race before grinding his way to the front.
Best of all for us low-rollers: You can make Superfectas for just a dime (this is not gambling lingo for $1,000; it’s literally 10-cents) and realize a $40,000 win if enough high-payers land.
When it comes to picking a single horse, longshot-loving Rotondo acknowledges, “If you can get American Pharoah at 7-5 or 8-5 to win, it’s probably a good bet. He’ll be the speediest horse out there and will control the pace. But betting on him doesn’t get me excited. I want to win the big money!”
Just like the rest of us.