Two Complicated Princes of the Sport of Kings
The excitement of thoroughbred horse racing and many of the sports most vexing problems are exemplified by the careers of the trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher.
Bob Baffert held the shank reverently, as if attending to the cape of a king, as he walked American Pharoah to his barn at Keeneland, a country manor of a racetrack in Lexington, Ky. Alongside him, at his invitation, walked Todd Pletcher, another prince of thoroughbred racing.
Four months earlier, on June 6, 2015, American Pharoah had bounded down the stretch amid the cathartic roar and wet cheeks of horse lovers to win the Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown champion in 37 years. It was a long-awaited moment of jubilation for a battered old pastime whose relevance to casual sports fans had long been waning.
Now, American Pharoah was in Kentucky to run in the Breeders Cup Classic. It would be the colts last race, and Baffert wanted Pletcher to absorb the majesty of what he considered a once in a lifetime horse.