After a long 37 years, the Triple Crown has found its new champion in race horse American Pharoah, jockey Victor Espinoza, and owners Ahmed and Justin Zayat. Prior to Saturday’s historical Belmont Stakes race, the last Triple Crown winner was in 1978 when Affirmed and rider Steve Cauthen reigned supreme. Not only has Pharoah won an incredibly difficult title (as well as everyone’s hearts), the horse’s value has skyrocketed.
Pointing out the 37-year gap is one thing, but the New York Times expertly put the time span into context by writing, “There had been only 11 [winning horses] in history, and America had elected five presidents, fought three wars and lived through at least three economic downturns since Affirmed had last completed the feat in 1978.”
Jockey Victor Espinoza glowed after the race, telling cameras he had the “best feeling ever” when he made it through the first turn, knowing right then that they were going to be victorious. Winning by five-and-a-half lengths, American Pharoah won his owners $800,000 and is now, according to Forbes, worth almost $50 million (up from the $20 million he was worth prior to Belmont). Though breeding rights were sold last year for just $13.8 million to Coolmore Ashford Stud, that was before he won the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont—the price today would certainly be significantly higher.
The horse’s overall worth centers around how much money his pedigree brings in when it comes to breeding. It’s estimated that it will cost around $100,000 for someone to breed their mare with Pharoah and generally that price is then multiplied by 300-400 (don’t ask us why) to get the final worth. Champions are usually bred with around 100-150 mares every year for three to four years (which is typical for thoroughbreds), and based off the assumption that Pharoah could be bred with 120 mares in a year, his value is estimated to be around $50 million. Money isn’t exchanged until a foal is actually born healthy with a good chance for survival, meaning that only owners of top-notch mares will be welcomed into such a deal.
The New York Racing Association reports that $134.8 million was bet on the race—on-track wagering was over $16.8 million, while off-track amounted to over $117.9 million—but surprisingly enough, not everyone has cashed in their winnings yet. According to ESPN, 94,128 tickets were purchased for $2 on Pharoah to win. After the race, 90,237 tickets (now worth a measly $3.50 each) were left uncashed, thereby leaving a total of $315,829 in winnings behind. Though most are probably keeping the tickets for themselves as mementos of the history-making race, others have posted the uncashed tickets for sale on eBay. Of course, this doesn’t include those who bet big, because they received their winnings immediately.
Considering the significance of this win, we can’t wait to see the Hollywood movie that is sure to already be in the works (à la 2010’s Secretariat, telling the story of that thoroughbred, which was the first winner after 25 years in 1973).