(Reuters) - Triple Crown winner American Pharoah made a triumphant return to the track by winning the $1.75 million William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey on Sunday.
Overwhelming favorite American Pharoah took the lead from Competitive Edge on the far turn, and opened up a five-length lead before cruising to a 2 1/4 length victory over Keen Ice to roars from a record crowd of 60,000.
“He just keeps bringing it,’’ American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert said about the 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 37 years. "He’s just a great horse.’’
Victor Espinoza, who rode the bay colt to victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, said American Pharoah responded when asked to make his move.
“He ran like the Triple Crown winner,’’ Espinoza said.
American Pharoah, who went off at odds of 1-10, ran the 1 1/8 mile race in 1:47.4, one second off the track record despite not going full out in the stretch after his 57-day break since the Belmont.
Where American Pharoah races next is uncertain with the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 29, the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 19 and the Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 26 among the possibilities.
He is expected to make his farewell racing performance in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 31 before retiring to stud.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)