Dear Mr. Ahmed Zayat:
One more time.
That's all we ask.
Let American Pharoah race one more time.
We are the first to admit our sentiments are selfish, that our request is more than a little bit driven by the fact this year's Breeders' Cup will be held at our very own Keeneland Race Course on Oct. 30-31.
The Breeders' Cup is spectacular in its own right but American Pharoah's participation would render the 2015 renewal historic. A Triple Crown winner has never before participated in the event's 31-year history.
It goes beyond local pride, however. It goes to why you got into Thoroughbred racing in the first place. It goes back to the love of the sport.
We know, after American Pharoah's second-place finish in the Travers Stakes last Saturday, you were quoted as saying your "gut feeling" was your horse would probably be retired. But we know, too, that you made that statement right after having been kicked in the gut.
Few expected your horse to lose last Saturday. Pharoah was a morning-line 1-5 favorite. Trainer Bob Baffert wouldn't have shipped to New York had he feared losing. And though he did lose, Pharoah did so valiantly, retaking the lead from Frosted only to be caught and passed by Keen Ice in the stretch.
The in-race battle obviously took something out of the Triple Crown winner. Or maybe it was the repeated shuttling between California and the East Coast — first for the Kentucky Derby; then for the Haskell; finally for the Travers. Either way, hard-charging Keen Ice was the surprise victor.
We don't have to tell you that, of course, Mr. Zayat. We could see the shock and disappointment in the faces of your and your family. We could see it in the tears of Jill Baffert. We could hear it in her husband's voice as he did the post-race interview.
"You forget they all get beat," Baffert told the media.
Secretariat lost twice after his phenomenal 31-length win in the 1973 Belmont. Seattle Slew lost his first post-Triple Crown race by more than 4 lengths. At one time after winning the 1978 Triple Crown, Affirmed suffered through a four-race losing streak.
It's horse racing. Things happen. Even the best horses sometimes get beat. And certainly American Pharoah could get beat again if he runs in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
He could get hurt, too. We know that. Horse racing is not without its horrific hazards. We also know Ashford Stud is no doubt awaiting American Pharoah's arrival for his contractually obligated stallion duties.
He should run, anyway, for the same reason you took the chance and ran him in the Travers. Retirement would have been the easy play. The Pennsylvania Derby would have been the smarter play. It is run Sept. 19, six weeks after Pharoah's impressive win in the Haskell, six weeks before the trip to Keeneland. In terms of racing history and tradition, however, the Pennsylvania Derby is not the Travers.
"It was for horse racing," Bob Baffert told ESPN. "I'd do it again."
There was renewed hope Tuesday he will do it again. Baffert told Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form that for now Pharoah will be pointed toward the Breeders' Cup. Even a prep race is possible. How the horse trains will be the deciding factor.
That is good news, Mr. Zayat, for Lexington and the sport. Television ratings for the Travers marked a 20-year high. The Breeders' Cup is horse racing's Super Bowl and the Classic its ultimate test. American Pharoah would compete against all comers, against older horses, against former and current Eclipse Award winners. It would be the best versus the best.
And even if he loses, American Pharoah would still be the first Triple Crown champion in nearly four decades. No one can ever take that away from him or you. Nor can they take away the memory of what it was like that June afternoon at Belmont Park when your horse hit the wire first to end that long, long drought.
Oct. 31 at Keeneland, give us one more memory.
Is that too much to ask?