Moments after American Pharoah became only the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, NYRA began campaigning to get the colt to Saratoga. 

“We spoke to Mr. Zayat shortly after we left the presentation platform on the day he won the Triple Crown,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay, on Sunday, to Time Warner Cable News. “I gave him a tease and said, ‘I’m giving you the trophy but I’m giving it back if you don’t come to Saratoga.’”

Getty Images
Getty Images

The communication didn’t stop either as Kay had a detailed update about American Pharoah that he gave to Armen and Levack every week, leading up to Sunday’s confirmation that Pharoah will run in the Travers.

“Mr. Zayat and I have been in constant contact the last several months. Our head of racing has been in constant contact with Mr. Baffert. We did a lot of things right, including raising the purse to $1.6 million, to help ensure his appearance here at the track.

“We had superior planning for the Belmont Stakes and we had the same type of planning for the Saratoga meet. We began planning for how we could bring American Pharoah here and what we would do once he got here. That’s one of the reasons why we have a cap at 50,000 and we’ve also handled a lot of logistic issues with American Pharoah’s crew. We’ve been doing a lot of work for quite a while.”

While Kay would never give a percentage on his feeling, give him credit, he’s been optimistic during the whole meet.

“My gut feeling was that he was going to come if he was healthy. We repeated everything that they had said in public, which was that they wanted to come if the horse was ready. Mr. Baffert, carefully and rightfully, wanted to make sure that American Pharoah was right. He’s right, and he’s coming.”

It was clear judging by Kay’s smile on Sunday afternoon, the announcement was well worth the wait.

“It is exciting news for the New York Racing Association, for all horse racing fans in New York and frankly, all horse racing fans in the entire country.”

NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay will join ‘Armen and Levack’ this Friday at 3:30p ET to preview American Pharoah’s running in the Traver’s Stakes - Exclusively on 104.5 The Team.

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