American Pharoah was named the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Longines World’s Best Racehorse on Tuesday, three days after winning the Eclipse Award as U.S. Horse of the Year. Despite some big days of international racing late in the year, the Grand Slam winner held on to the top spot.
Earning a final rating of 134 on the final 2015 World’s Best Racehorse rankings, American Pharoah jumped up one point from the 133 he earned in November after the Breeder’s Cup Classic. The rating is the highest since Frankel topped the final standings in 2012 and makes American Pharoah the first North American-based horse since Curlin in 2008 to top the final rankings.
"To see American Pharoah named as the Longines World's Best Racehorse is an incredible honor and something which means a great deal within the international horse racing industry," said Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah's owner. "It has been a pleasure to be in London to receive this prestigious award and share the company of so many respected figures from the horse racing community. I'll never have another horse like him, he did so much for the sport."
The late Shared Belief was in the top 20 for the second year in a row when he earned a 126 to tie with the French mare Treve in the No. 3 spot. Outside of the top two U.S. racehorses, North America was well represented in the top 10 with Beholder, Dortmund, Firing Line and Honor Code all tied for eighth with a 123 rating behind the two U.S. champions.
Overall, 15 North American-based horses earned a rating of 120 or more to rank in the top 50.
It wasn’t just North America’s horses that played a big role in the rankings. U.S. races attracted five of the top 50-rated foreign horses to this continent. The Breeders’ Cup Turf attracted the second-highest rated horse in Golden Horn, who was crowned Europe’s Horse of the Year after a season that saw him win all but two of his races. Golden Horn earned a rating of 130 to finish second to American Pharoah after trading the No. 1 spot with him for much of the year.
Sent off as the 4-to-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Golden Horn finished second to the Irish filly Found, who was rated 120 with fellow Breeders’ Cup-winning filly Tepin, who beat males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Gleneagles was the third non-North American Breeders’ Cup runner to be rated in the top 50 when he earned a 123, mostly based on his victory in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas in England in May. The colt ended his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he didn’t take to the dirt and finished last in the race.
While neither Flintshire nor Highland Reel came over for the Breeders’ Cup, both horses made winning appearances in North America in 2015 before facing each other late in the year in the Hong Kong Vase.
Flintshire equaled his final 2014 rating with a 123 this year, which tied him for 18th in 2014 but placed him in a tie for eighth in 2015. Flintshire’s only win in 2015 came in the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes at Saratoga by 2 ½ lengths over Red Rifle, but the 6-year-old finished second in five Group 1 races throughout the year.
Three-year-old Highland Reel, who was rated 121 for 2015, came to the United States in mid-August and ran away with the Secretariat Stakes in a downpour. The colt then went on win the Hong Kong Vase in December after finishing third in Australia’s W.S. Cox Plate to finish a campaign that included races in six countries over an eight-month period.
"Together with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, Longines is proud to have presented the Longines World’s Best Racehorse for the third time in a row," said Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President and Head of International Marketing of Longines. "This was a real pleasure to celebrate the remarkable feat of American Pharoah with Longines watches specially designed to honour [his] Triple Crown victory. Longines is also glad to have rewarded the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with the very first Longines World’s Best Horse Race. For a brand involved in equestrian sport since its early history, organizing a ceremony as the one we lived today represents a great pride.”
Also released on Tuesday was the European 2-year-old classification, which ranked the top 2-year-olds to run in Europe in 2015. Some familiar names were on the list with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb earning a rating of 116 and the runner-up in that race, Birchwood, earning a rating of 114. United States-based Acapulco, who is trained by Wesley Ward and started in Europe twice in 2015, was rated 115.
Acapulco is currently back in training preparing for a 3-year-old campaign that will see her return to Europe in 2016.