American Pharoah runs for the animal kingdom. He exemplifies the basic good in all animals, from your pooch who always understands, to the lion that the dentist killed, to the birds with nests on electric transformers.
It's why kids hold up "We Want Pharoah" signs at their favorite tracks, and why grown people get misty-eyed when the best horse going steps onto a racing surface.
Whereas judges might suspend a second or third DUI sentence for unimaginable reasons, possibly a personal familiarity with the crime, mistreat an animal and you'll be punished to the fullest intent of the law, and then some. Let some livestock get too skinny and we'll run your mug on the front page.
All animals start out good. The only imperfect animals have been driven there by humans.
Even hard-cord gamblers show reverence when Pharoah walks past.
The Breeder's Cup Classic is Halloween. AP is so popular, some kids may trick or treat as him. The second biggest gamble in sports is running Pharoah some more. The biggest gamble is trying to beat him. It's a little hard to believe that trainer Bob Baffert would run Pharoah at Saratoga before the Cup. Saratoga is Baffert's brick wall. Pharoah could be better served waltzing around Pennsylvania or southern California before the biggest races ever.
American Pharoah will run against older animals in the Breeder's Cup Classic at Keeneland, which is suddenly a featured stop on the map of the stars' homes. Keeneland is an appropriately lucky site for the race of the ages because it is to the thoroughbred breed what Madison Square Garden is to fancy dogs. There are few horse race axioms written in stone. Most are written on sand. A pretty solid rule of handicapping is older is better. Older horses have seen all the tricks.
There are five ways to beat American Pharoah.
If Onion can beat Secretariat, a couple or three older horses could actually beat Pharoah.
One, somebody could steal the race. Get the lead and floorboard it and don't look back and hope nobody is running with you. Of the five ways to beat Pharoah, this would appear to be the least likely, because AP is extremely powerful out of the gate and can make up for a misstep in an instant. The last thing a speedster wants is Pharoah running second in its wake. The Classic is a mile and a quarter, same as the Kentucky Derby, an awkward distance for speed- first horses.
Two, somebody could close from way back. The best older horses are deep closers. There's no trouble back there. But you need a lot of help in a consistently fast pace all the way around. Spot American Pharoah something like 15 lengths, and you'll be closing for second.
Three, you could stalk the stalker. Try to stay on Pharoah's flank all the way around and hope you can get to him in the stretch. Pharoah's patented power move on the turn for home looks like something out of a super hero movie. It looks tricked up, as if the competition had just entered tar pits. The monster move on the last turn is why he can coast home. If an older horse could run like Pharoah, he or she would have showed signs of that.
Four, weather. If it rains, anything goes. Since Pharoah has never had an off day, or has never met a track surface he didn't like, freaky Halloween weather would seem to be the only intangible at play.
The fifth way to beat Pharoah seems the most likely at this point. It is the Picker's Curse. It is not too far offline to say that the big race TV pickers are zero forever. I mean no disrespect here. If you're going to miss them all, miss them as early as possible so we can get to the windows or to the screen to cancel some bets. A cold streak is the next best thing to a hot streak. It is a tremendous public service. Knowing who is going to lose is a lovely advantage. Just don't you dare change your handicapping technique and hit one out of nowhere.
Somebody asked what I would do if a field bet existed in the Breeder's Cup: Pharoah against them all. Weird proposition bets like that sound like jinxes. So I would do nothing.
Here's a sign we could see Halloween at Keeneland: Please Somebody on TV Pick Against Pharoah.