American Pharoah’s Orthodox Jewish owner walks to track to see Triple Crown victory


(JTA) — The Orthodox Jewish owner of American Pharoah walked to the track to see his horse claim the first Triple Crown in nearly four decades.

Owner Ahmed Zayat and his family slept in RVs on Friday night and walked to Belmont Park in New York the next day in order to observe the Sabbath, The Associated Press reported.

Racing to victory in the Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah became the first horse to win the third leg of the Triple Crown for 3-year-olds following victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness since Affirmed in 1978.

“We all wanted it. We wanted it for the sport,” Zayat, of Teaneck, New Jersey, said after the race, according to AP.

American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, who is not Jewish, visited the Lubavitcher rebbe’s grave on Thursday in Cambria Heights, New York, in the borough of Queens, where he prayed and presumably asked for good luck for his colt.

Zayat, 52, who was born and grew up in Cairo, had watched horses he owns finish second in the Kentucky Derby three out of the past four years. In 2012, his horses finished second in each of the three Triple Crown races. Zayat owns 144 horses.

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