As the director of horsemen's relations for the Maryland Jockey Club, Phoebe Hayes, 55, is a crucial figure behind the scenes of Preakness weekend. Whether her office is coordinating rides for owners, overseeing admittance to the winner's circle after the Preakness Stakes or arranging a White House tour, Hayes juggles it all, ensuring smooth visits for the VIPs.
Questions quickly turned to American Pharoah's future schedule and his potential impact on a struggling sport, but Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat mostly wanted to soak in the moment after the horse won the 2015 Belmont Stakes and horse racing's Triple Crown.
When American Pharoah breaks from the gate at Belmont Park on Saturday, he'll be carrying more than jockey Victor Espinoza on his broad shoulders. He'll also have to lug 37 years worth of baggage around the track on his 1 ½-mile run for horse racing's elusive Triple Crown.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert nodded in approval as he heard American Pharoah will start from the No. 5 hole when he attempts to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history in Saturday¿s Belmont Stakes.
As with most debates involving sports, there are varying reasons for the absence of a Triple Crown champion racehorse over the past 37 years. It has as much to do with bank accounts as bloodlines, yet trying to pinpoint the main reason is as elusive as the achievement itself.
American Pharoah left no doubts about his status as the pre-eminent 3-year-old of a gifted crop after winning the 2015 Preakness Stakes. Now the question is whether he can handle the war of attrition that will culminate with a Triple Crown shot on June 6 in the Belmont Stakes.
It had to be one of those what-are-the-odds moments for trainer Bob Baffert, and we're not talking about the fact that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah was set as a 4-5 morning line favorite for the 140th running of the Preakness on Saturday at Old Hilltop. Baffert, who said before Wednesday's race draw that he is always "post-position sensitive," ended up with both Pharoah and third-place Derby finisher Dortmund stacked 1-2 on the rail.
Track officials say they¿ve tried to respond to last year's criticism, spending $4.2 million to create 18-seat suites for the owners of each Derby horse and borrowing from the Preakness Stakes the practice of assigning a driver to the connections of each horse.
As California Chrome began his recovery from a foot injury that might have contributed to his flat performance in the Belmont Stakes, his co-owner, Steve Coburn, stood by harsh comments about owners and trainers who run fresh horses in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn, who hails from Nevada, would choose to double down on the incendiary comments he made after his horse failed to win the third jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
California Chrome's trainer, Art Sherman, raised the rather startling possibility that his horse might not run in the Belmont Stakes because of New York rules barring a nasal adhesive strip the colt has used throughout his six-race winning streak.
California Chrome was the best 3-year-old thoroughbred in America going into the Kentucky Derby. He was the best at Churchill Downs. And now he's the 2014 Preakness Stakes champion after distancing himself from Saturday's 10-horse field.