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Great Mares Flocking to American Pharoah

The book may be closed on American Pharoah’s brilliant career on the racetrack, but the final chapter in his legacy is still being written.
As Thoroughbred racing revels in the afterglow of its first Triple Crown champion in 37 years, a different part of the industry is now getting its chance to inhale the rarified air that followed the Zayat Stables superstar to places like Monmouth Park, Saratoga and Keeneland.
For the first time in more than three decades, a farm can offer the services of a first-year sire who just so happens to be a Triple Crown champion, and the breeding industry is showing the same unbridled enthusiasm for American Pharaoh as the fans who packed racetracks to get a close-up look at him.
Even with a lofty fee of $200,000 per live foal, Coolmore America already has far more requests for American Pharoah than available mating sessions with the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile during his initial season at stud.
“This is the biggest response we’re ever seen,” said Charlie O’Connor, Coolmore America’s Director of Sales.
“Who wouldn’t want to breed an outstanding mare to the likes of American Pharoah? He has captured the heart of the racing world and beyond. All of our top clients and the top breeders from around the world are going to send their top mares his way.
“Our biggest problem is picking out the best mares for him because so many people have been submitting mares and we want to give this horse every chance in the world to be a great sire.”
Glorious dreams
Owner Ahmed Zayat sold American Pharoah’s breeding rights to Coolmore America in May in a $20 million deal that was announced shortly after the 3-year-old’s romp in the Preakness. The deal, which included performance incentives, allowed Zayat to retain a share of American Pharoah’s breeding rights and also control his racing career through the end of the year. 
His days at the racetrack ended in a majestic fashion on Oct. 31 at Keeneland when he cruised to victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, becoming the first horse to complete a historic Grand Slam of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and BC Classic.
Now, while racetrack aficionados will spend the coming years comparing the accomplishments of American Pharoah and the Triple Crown winners who came before him, the long-awaited 12th Triple Crown winner will begin a new life in the breeding shed in 2016. He’ll take up where Affirmed, Seattle Slew and Secretariat left off, generating glorious dreams of a regal champion producing sons and daughters as amazingly swift and talented as their famed sire.
“It’s a matter of breed the best to the best and hope for the best, and then cross your fingers,” O’Connor said. “It doesn’t always happen, but it certainly helps to have great talent. There’s no guarantee, but there’s a high percentage of success when you match the best broodmares with the best sires. It’s a great starting point.”
Finding the best possible mares for American Pharoah has proven to be relatively simple for Coolmore America. Slated for no more than an initial season of 150 bookings next year, the graceful colt has attracted more than 200 applications from highly interested breeders.
The list of those mares reads like a who’s-who of distaff stars. It includes: 
Take Charge Lady, the dam of 2013 champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge, G1 winner Take Charge Indy and a War Front weanling filly who just sold for North American-record $3.2 million at the Keeneland November sale.

Charming, the dam of Take Charge Brandi, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2014 who was sold for $6 million at the Keeneland sale on Nov. 3.

2014 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Judy the Beauty.

Untouched Talent, the dam of Zayat Stable’s 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister.

G1 winner Awesome Maria, whose daughter out of War Front sold for $2 million at the Keeneland sale.

Ivanavinalot, the dam of Songbird, a breathtaking winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Playa Maya, the dam of Uncle Mo, the 2010 2-year-old champion and one of this year’s top first-year sires.

Arch’s Gal Edith, dam of the colt who beat Bodemeister in the 2012 Derby and Preakness, I’ll Have Another.

Rags to Riches, who in 2007 became the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.

“It’s an exciting time because we know American Pharaoh will get the cream of the crop in the breeding shed,” said Justin Zayat, the oldest son of Ahmed Zayat and racing manager for Zayat Stables. “As great a race horse as American Pharoah was, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a great sire. But he will get every chance to become a great sire and if it doesn’t happen he’ll have zero excuses.”
With such a bevy of fabulous mares in his future, it would seem a mortal lock that American Pharoah will be represented by a legion of G1 winners in a few years, but it’s never that easy. Even with racing royalty in their veins, some horses never live up to their grandiose expectations or even make it to the race at all.
It’s all part of why people “hope for the best” when they “breed the best to the best”.
“What I do is more art than science,” said Ed Rosen, a bloodstock adviser who works primarily for owner Mike Repole. “Yet everyone wants to make this a science because people are so tuned in to algorithms and computers. They want to put in seven variables and have the answer spit out for them. But these are living things. They run through fences, they get colic, a lot of different things happen to them.”
The hope and disappointment that mixes together in the breeding industry is best reflected by the three Triple Crown winners before American Pharoah. 
The immortal Secretariat was syndicated for a world record $6.08 million before his unforgettable 1973 Triple Crown sweep, but the son of Bold Ruler never achieved acclaim as a sire until his daughters began to produce a series of G1 winners and champions.
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