American Pharoah flies first-class to NJ
The Triple Crown winner made his much-anticipated New Jersey arrival in style this afternoon, ahead of this Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
American Pharoah made the cross-country flight from California to Atlantic City International Airport, which landed just after 2 p.m. The prized three-year-old colt walked down a ramp and onto a trailer for the ride to Monmouth Park, with a police escort up the Garden State Parkway.
So, how exactly do you transport a Triple Crown winner?
American Pharoah traveled like a rock star today aboard a Boeing 727, nicknamed "Air Horse One."
The converted cargo plane will have a special modular stall constructed around the horse, 1.5 times larger than his normal one.
The aircraft is climate-controlled with 240 pounds of hay and five caretakers on board. It has enough room for 21 horse stalls, or 160 human passengers.
Eleven other horses will begin the journey from LA/Ontario International in California; 9 deplane in Kentucky before the final stop in Egg Harbor Township.
The specialized plane, operated by H.E. "Tex" Sutton Forwarding Company, helps to reduce a horse's stress from travel. The flight crew is specially trained to avoid steep ascents and descents and steer clear of adverse weather conditions.
It is not cheap to provide first-class pampering for the colt. The flight costs nearly $5,000 each way.
Still, though, it is a drop-in-the-bucket for the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. American Pharoah is expected to provide a huge economic boon for the area.
Sunday's Haskell is expected to break every New Jersey horse racing record for attendance and revenue.
Jim Barnes, assistant trainer for the champion horse, said American Pharoah does not shy away from the spotlight.
"He's a ham; he loves it," Barnes said. "He handles it way better than any of us, that's for sure."
And while Pharoah is used to the oppressive heat, Barnes said his crew will still be working to keep the horse cool.
"We give him plenty of fluids...bathe him, try to take him when it's cool, a lot of fans," he said.