(Note: The following post was originally published in Jan. 2016 and updated in Oct. 2017)
Earlier this month, just as the New Year was starting, American Pharoah blissfully celebrated his fourth birthday. American Pharoah wasn’t alone in celebrating since every Thoroughbred horse in the Northern Hemisphere shares the same birthday regardless on when they were actually born: January 1st. But while all thoroughbreds age on the same day, absolutely none of them came close to having the year that American Pharoah did in 2015.
American Pharoah’s Career
Halloween Day of 2015 is one that most Kentuckians are likely going to remember for a very, very long time. It was just after 6:00 PM during the final event of the 13 separate races that make up the legendary Breeders’ Cup, when 50,155 spectators watched American Pharoah soar across the finish line. As jockey Victor Espinoza turned to give the finish line camera a knowing smile, history had been written in horse racing. American Pharoah became the very first stallion ever in history to…well, you know the rest. But the most interesting part of American Pharoah’s story is what the next chapter of his life has in store for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
Life at Ashford Stud Farm
In early November, Bob Baffert, who has earned his place on the Mt. Rushmore of horse trainers, walked American Pharoah one last time. Baffert slowly led the horse to the barn at the Ashford Stud Horse Farm with promises of frequent trips to visit this once in a life time thoroughbred. And, ever the amiable horse, Pharoah was eager to pose for photos next to his new home. After all, these are some nice digs and a fantastic set up! His days of traveling across the country, endless rigorous training, and more are now all behind him. Instead, he’s currently enjoying acres and acres of fenced in Bluegrass beauty. For the last two months, American Pharoah has been settling into his new, permanent Kentucky home.
The Ashford Stud farm, like many in the region, has extensive ties to both politics and bourbon. The farm, which has grown exponentially in size over the years, was first established as a cattle farm by Colonel Edmund Taylor. Taylor was the grandnephew of 12th President Zachary Taylor and mayor of nearby Frankfort, Kentucky for 16 years. But Taylor is probably most well-known for opening the nearby Old Taylor Distillery in the 1880’s and his likeness adorns a brand of bourbon today. Over the last 40 years, some of the finest stallions in the world have called Ashford Stud home. Pharoah certainly won’t be lonely in his comfortable surroundings.
Nearby Horse Farm Tours
There are over 400 horse farms throughout the state and nearly 150 in nearby Fayette County. And if American Pharoah wants to take a day trip to visit his sire, 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, dear old dad lives just less than 15 minutes away. At his new home, he’ll join 12 other legendary and beautiful stallions that are currently studding. American Pharoah can trade glory stories about the first Saturday in May as he chews the hay with fellow Kentucky Derby Winners Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Thunder Gulch (1995).
The farm is a relatively easy destination to reach. Situated just a few miles south of I-64 and located smack dab between the towns of Versailles and Frankfort makes it in an ideal location for tourists. In fact, the backside of the farm is just a stone’s throw from the iconic Labrot and Graham Distillery, which has been home to Woodford Reserve bourbon since the mid 1990’s.
Visit American Pharoah
So, how do admirers from coast to coast go about getting up close and personal with the first grand slam champion? Opportunity to visit is limited and time is short before American Pharoah scheduled set to begin his breeding season in mid-February. Mint Julep Tours has partnered with our friends at The Kentucky Derby Museum for “American Pharoah – A Champions Tour.”
The day-long guided tour includes a trip to Churchill Downs where guests experience “The Greatest Race,” enjoy a Historic Walking Tour of the Churchill Downs racetrack, and a stop in The Finish Line Gift Shop featuring American Pharoah merchandise. Then it’s off to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud Farm for a day with horse racing legends past and present, including American Pharoah. No tours are currently available as of Oct. 2017. Call today to find out how you can schedule a private tour.
If you chose to embark on a tour out to Woodford County, there are a few things to keep in mind when touring Ashford Stud or any working horse farm. First, you should know that very few of the horse farms have opened their front gates to visitors in the same way that the Bourbon Distilleries have in recent years. A handful of farms offer regularly scheduled, public tours, but most tours are private and need to be set up well in advance. When visiting, photos are almost always welcome, but keep those hands to yourself.
Tips for Horse Farm Visits
A horse’s temperament can vary wildly from stallion to stallion. Nothing ruins a nice day in horse country liked being kicked or bitten. And don’t expect to saddle up, hop on and go for a ride; remember that it’s a working farm not the county fair. Another good rule of thumb is to dress for a day at the farm. Opt for comfy clothes and sturdy shoes; leave fashionable Derby day outfits behind. Finally, while the view is often worth the visit alone, many farms don’t exactly have state-of-the-art restrooms or much less a gift shop.
2016 marks the beginning of the next chapter of American Pharoah’s life. It is absolutely thrilling that this amazing horse is going to be right in our own Kentucky back yard welcoming visitors for years to come. American Pharoah has earned the mantle of an once-in-a-lifetime horse on the track and Mint Julep Tours is delighted for the opportunity to bring guests from around the country to show up and say, “Thanks for everything.”
Note that Ashford Stud does their best to let fans see American Pharoah and other champions, however, no guarantees can be made for any particular tour- shows are pending the health and welfare of the animals.
Call 502-583-1433 or visit www.mintjulep.wpengine.com to book your spot today!