Baffert Unhappy As American Pharoah ‘Celebrates’ Travers Loss At Earth, Wind and Fire Concert

By Dodie Fingerton

Published August 30th, 2015

After losing the Travers, American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza enjoyed front row tickets at the Earth, Wind and Fire show Saturday Night at SPAC.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Not all champions deal with loss the same way.

Case in point: Hours after his heartbreaking defeat Saturday at the Travers, Triple-Crown-winning thoroughbred American Pharoah surprised everyone when he was spotted grooving to smooth jazz and funk at the Earth Wind and Fire show at SPAC.

Pharoah attended a post-race dinner at Michele Riggi's mansion when the pet-friendly socialite casually mentioned she had a pair of inside seats to the sold-out EWF show.

“It happened so fast,” said the Triple Crown winner's owner, Ahmed Zayat. “One of Michelle's 36 dogs got a tummy ache, so she asked A.P. if he wanted the tickets. The next thing I know he's headed out the door with a big dumb smile on his big dumb horse face.”

The Egyptian-American entrepreneur — who acknowledged he's a big fan of the Chicago-based funk band — said he was fine with the three-year-old's decision to take jockey Victor Espinoza to the show instead of him.

“EWF's always a tough ticket to find, don't get me wrong. But they deserved to go. They worked so hard this year.”

Trainer Bob Baffert had a decidedly different reaction.

“The whole thing’s a pile of horseshit,” the 62-year-old said while standing in line for a Doughboy at Esperanto on Caroline Street. “I can't believe he took Victor and not me. I'm his trainer. I'm the one who made him into a champion.”

News of the snub surprised horse-racing insiders as well, who believe that Baffert's ill-fated decision to run the colt in the mid-summer derby was largely due to his desire to finally see the Grammy award-winning hit-makers live in concert.

“Forget the $1.6 million purse,” said Dick Schnapp, chief handicapper at Got The Trots magazine. “The minute Bob found out EWF was playing SPAC the night of the Travers, he decided to run Pharoah. That wasn't a coincidence. He's a huge fan.”

Morris Loudshirt, host of the OTB channel's hit show Horsin' Around, believes Baffert was planning to use his celebrity to acquire tickets to the band’s performance.

“He trained the first Triple Crown winner in 38 years. That he still could not find a ticket to the Earth, Wind and Fire show is a testament to the band's enduring relevance.”

Coincidentally, the last Triple Crown winner to race in the Travers — Affirmed in 1978 — also attended an R&B concert at the park hours after losing the Travers. Though he placed second to his arch nemesis, Alydar, the two reportedly took good-natured turns horse-cock-blocking each other while Gladys Knight and the Pips played to a packed house.


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