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Nearly five years ago, on Oct. 31, 2015, American Pharoah raced for the last time, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6½-lengths at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.
“A Triple Crown winner, a Breeders' Cup winner, a horse of a lifetime,” exclaimed NBC Sports’ race caller Larry Collmus.
Debuting this Sunday, Aug. 30 at noon ET on NBC, the NBC Sports Films’ documentary “Born to Run” presented by MassMutual reminisces about that magical year in horse racing, and continues the story of American Pharoah as he retired to stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.
The film chronicles American Pharoah’s foals, from their birth in the spring of 2017 to present day, providing an inside look at these horses as they sell at the high-stakes Keeneland Yearling Sale, learn to race on farms in Florida, and compete for the very first time. The documentary takes viewers all around the world, from Ireland and Japan to Australia and Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, a race many of the first crop have long hoped to qualify for, following in their father’s footsteps.
The one-hour special is narrated by Kentucky-native and well-known actress Ashley Judd, whose family has lived in Eastern Kentucky for 10 generations. The documentary debuts just six days before the rescheduled 2020 Kentucky Derby, with that five-hour broadcast set to begin Saturday, Sept. 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Judd’s opening narration: “The walk each morning from American Pharoah’s barn to the breeding shed is about 30 yards long, yet it’s become the most significant stretch of real estate in the breeding industry.”
Notes and quotes from “Born to Run”:
- “The first time you saw him breeze, it’s like you were watching an old Seabiscuit movie…he was the buzz in the horse world.” – Bob Baffert, American Pharoah’s trainer.
- In his first year at stud in 2016, American Pharoah earned approximately $30 million – four times what he earned in his racing career. He sired 162 offspring that year – 81 of which were up for auction one year later at the Keeneland Yearling Sale, with 12 selling for at least $500,000.
- “This is a business that’s all about hope. You find a horse like American Pharoah and you want some of that magic, some of that ability…when you breed to American Pharoah, you get the chance to breed to a horse of a lifetime.” – Jane Lyon, horse breeder.
- American Pharoah’s offspring registered 24 wins by Oct. 2019 -- with victories in Asia, Europe, and North America – leading all 2-year old sires.
- “Unfortunately, one of the things that we can’t measure is their heart, whether the horse is really going to love to run.” – Keith Latson, veterinarian.
- Three American Pharoah offspring competed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in November 2019 – all three finished in the money, with Four Wheel Drive winning the $1 Million Juvenile Turf Sprint.
- “For the Derby to move from May to September, changed the course for a lot of those horses.” – NBC Sports’ Donna Brothers.
- By early August 2020, Pharoah’s first crop of offspring had won 67 races. Against the odds, two Pharoah offspring in Japan qualified for the 2020 Kentucky Derby – Café Pharoah and Danon Pharoah. Both horses will not be at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- “Somewhere, just maybe, we’ll get another horse of a lifetime.” – Ashley Judd’s closing narration.
About NBC Sports Films
NBC Sports Films, a division of NBC Sports Group, was founded in 2015 and produces sports documentaries that air across NBC, NBCSN, NBC Sports Regional Networks, Peacock, and NBC Sports Digital’s platforms. Using the story telling abilities of the Emmy Award-winning production units that produce NBC Sports’ coverage of the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, and the Stanley Cup Final, NBC Sports Films shines a spotlight on historical moments and compelling stories that stem from the myriad of signature sports properties in the NBC Sports Group portfolio.