In the loaded world of sports, rarely does a horse breakthrough to mainstream acclaim. To draw the general public’s waning attention away from the daily deluge of hot takes and sensationalized sound bites requires nothing short of transcendence. American Pharoah is one such horse turned international superstar thanks to his Triple Crown busting, Grand Slam setting season in 2015.
The champ spent this past year fulfilling his new job duties at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, away from the roar of the big stage and glow of the media spotlight. With his first season in the books, we paid a visit to the Pharoah’s palace a few weeks ago to see how he’s taken to his new life of luxury, leisure and ladies. Lots of ladies. Not surprisingly, American Pharoah has been every bit as cool and proficiently professional in retirement as he was in competition.
The dude is just…well…a stud.
“People always ask, ‘Does he have any quirks or anything unusual?'” Coolmore America’s sales and marketing manager Scott Calder explained. “But he’s just such a straightforward horse in every respect. He just goes about his business and doesn’t fuss about anything. He’s just a dream to have here, really.”
It’s easy to see how horses thrive here at Ashford Stud. No stone is left unturned when it comes to the welfare of their residents, who in addition to American Pharoah includes the likes of Thunder Gulch, Uncle Mo and Giant’s Causeway. Needless to say, American Pharoah was quite popular among the international A-Listers of thoroughbred breeding in his inaugural season, covering around 200 mares.
“From the minute he was here he settled in straightaway,” said Calder. “We wondered whether breeding would change him but it hasn’t made a difference. He’s taken to the breeding process like a champ.”
So outside of the obvious, what does the life of a Coolmore stallion entail?
“Horses are creatures of habit so we like to keep things pretty routine,” Calder explained. Stallions are kept inside at night and each stall has a camera for ’round the clock surveillance. They are then turned out in their own individual paddocks all morning for unlimited grazing, rolling and plenty of room to run. They do not saddle up the stallions at Coolmore, but there are numerous exercise pens and walking paths to keep them in tip-top condition. They come back in at lunch time to get groomed and spruced up for the afternoon throng of visiting clients and tours.
Coolmore’s Ashford Stud is truly a place you have to see to believe. And you can. The farm is one of dozens in the Bluegrass that has opened its gates to the public as part of a newly launched initiative—called simply Horse Country—to increase transparency and education within the thoroughbred industry. To see a full list of participating farms and book your visit check out visithorsecountry.com.
“If you’re a horse fan, it’s like being in a theme park,” said Calder. “It takes your breath away.”