Is American Pharoah In The Kentucky Derby In 2016? The Triple Crown Winner Still Looms Over The Race

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 31: American Pharoah #4, ridden by Victor Espinoza wins the field during the Breeders' Cup Classic during day two of the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland Racecourse on October 31, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Source: Dylan Buell/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

There's one of those big, nostalgia-drenched annual American sporting events lurking on the horizon, and it figures to spark a lot of attention: The 2016 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7, with the race slated to start at 6:34 p.m. ET. And if you saw last the last one, it'd be no surprise that you'd be excited to tune in this time around ― last year, a colt named American Pharoah won the Derby, completing the rare and historic Triple Crown. So, will American Pharoah be in the Kentucky Derby this year? Will the champ defend his title?

Sad to say if you're a racing fan, the answer is no. American Pharoah was 3 years old at the time of his historic victory, but now, at 4, he's already into retirement. He currently resides at the Coolmore America farm near Versailles, Kentucky, just 70 miles east of the Churchill Downs racetrack where the annual Derby is held. Coolmore is an international racehorse breeding company based out of Ireland, and American Pharoah is one of the hottest properties they have, with a reported stud fee of $200,000.

In other words, while you may be disappointed, you won't get to see the most popular horse of 2015 back in the race in 2016, or in any other race for that matter. He's now being used as a breeding horse full-time, and has reportedly already fathered more than 80 young horses (known as "foals" in equestrian circles).

That's not to say that there isn't a field full of athletic and impressive horses this time around, though. As of Friday, the odds-on favorite in the race is Nyquist, a 3-year-old colt notably named after a player for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, with challengers like Exaggerator and Gun Runner right behind.

Still, there's no denying that the excitement probably won't measure up to the fever pitch of last year's Derby, if only because the stakes aren't nearly as high. The Derby is the third leg of the Triple Crown, meaning to claim racing's ultimate prize, a horse has to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes before finishing first at Churchill Downs. This year, no horse managed that feat, meaning there won't be a Triple Crown bid, a particular shame after watching American Pharoah get it done last year. But really, it's not fair to expect that kind of performance every year ― prior to 2015, no horse had won a Triple Crown since 1978.

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