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NEW YORK (AP) — Win or lose the Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah is expected to keep racing for the rest of the year.
At least that's the plan owner Ahmed Zayat laid out Wednesday after confirming the sale of breeding rights of his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to Coolmore Ashford Stud near Versailles, Kentucky.
The value of the deal was not disclosed, but even before the announcement, Zayat's son, Justin, said the family had been inundated with offers, some for more than $20 million.
"I will continue to own 100 percent of the colt until he retires," Zayat said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "I will make all of the racing decisions. If he runs in the Belmont, and God willing wins, and we're still fortunate, he will continue to race. This is not an issue whatsoever."
American Pharoah, currently at Churchill Downs in Louisville, will be a heavy favorite to win the Belmont on June 6 and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The colt has won six straight races after a career-opening loss, was voted 2-year-old champion and has earned $3,730,300 on the track.
Zayat may be optimistic about running his horse after the Belmont, but there are no assurances in racing. With so much money at stake at the breeding shed, Zayat could easily reconsider the risk-reward of continuing to race — especially if American Pharoah wins the Belmont.
At the start of 2016, Coolmore calls all the shots and Zayat's take is the 3-year-old would be retired.
"It's unlikely he would race again (after this year)," Zayat said. "The values are too insane. It's just not economically feasible to continue."
Zayat said he will retain an interest in American Pharoah after he is retired, as he does with many of his stallions.
The breeding rights to Affirmed sold for $14.4 million in 1979. Based on that figure and adjusting for inflation, American Pharoah's value could be around $40 million.
Since American Pharoah is still racing, stud fees have yet to be determined. The colt's sire, Pioneerof the Nile, is at WinStar Farm in Versailles and stands at $60,000 per live foal.
The 52-year-old Egyptian businessman who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, called Coolmore "the best home for American Pharoah."
Coolmore is a worldwide breeding operation with farms in Kentucky, Australia and Ireland.
Among the stallions standing at Ashford are 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000 European Horse of the Year Giant's Causeway and 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky.
"We're very happy with the deal," Zayat said. "It takes two to tango. Coolmore was very competitive. They wanted the horse. It's a good fit. We couldn't ask for better partners."
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