Mid-Missouri woman has unique ties to American Pharoah
BARNETT - When American Pharoah looks to become the first Triple Crown winner in almost 40 years on June 6, a mid-Missouri woman will be cheering extra hard for the race horse. Click here to watch video.
That's because Marsha Baumgartner is responsible for the horse's unique name.
Baumgartner is a registered nurse from Barnett, Missouri. She does not own any horses of her own, but refers to herself as an avid horse racing fan.
"In 1973, when the Secretariat won the Triple Crown, is when I first became a horse race lover," Baumgartner. "I've followed it ever since then. I was not able to see that [race] because I was too young."
Baumgartner does not work full-time anymore, allowing her more time to browse the Internet.
"I have more time to look at websites and look at horses and their pedigrees and find out what happens to them after they retire," Baumgartner said.
That's how she found the Zayat Racing Stables.
"I think it was in 2012," Baumgartner said. "There was a race horse named Paynter and he was very seriously ill. He got colitis, and many times owners will go ahead and euthanize a horse, you know, just because they don't want them to suffer, and also there is insurance money involved. But the Zayat family elected to try major things to try to keep him alive and he recovered and he's now a stallion and has had foals of his own."
She started watching the website and when they posted a contest to suggest names for their new foals, she entered several names. Baumgartner said she doesn't remember how many names she entered, but the family selected one of them as a winner.
"I suggested the name American Pharoah for one of them and they chose that one," Baumgartner said.
There are a couple reasons she chose that name.
"It was because his sire is Pioneerof the Nile and his grand-sire was Yankee Gentleman," Baumgartner said. "So I came up with American Pharoah. And also because Mr. Zayat came from Egypt."
"So that's the reason I chose that name. And probably the reason they chose that name."
Baumgartner has been to three of American Pharoah's races, including the Kentucky Derby back in May.
"I just had never seen that many people at the same time. There are so many people there. They were like 150-something thousand people there that day and of course everyone dresses up. Their hats are just something you can't even describe."
When American Pharoah was on the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby, Baumgartner said she was standing on her chair jumping up and down.
"I was hugging my husband and yelling and screaming."
But that name has become much more than contest winning prize. American Pharoah has won two of the three American Classics and plans to run in the Belmont Stakes. And although Baumgartner stood in the Winner's Circle with the Zayats at the Rebel Stakes in Arkansas, she will watch the Belmont Stakes from home.
"Except for general admission it's sold out, which always happens when there's the possibility of a Triple Crown on the line," Baumgartner said.
Betting odds favor American Pharoah 4/5 to win the race.
Beth Hussey is a horse racing fan and said she thinks American Pharoah has a good chance to win the Belmont Stakes.
"This year I think we have as good a chance as we've had in a long time for a Triple Crown winner," Hussey said.
Baumgartner said she has mixed feelings about American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown.
"That would just be so thrilling," Baumgartner said. "I couldn't imagine that. I'm [just] afraid if he does win the Triple Crown, this will be his last race because his breeding rights have been sold already. So it makes it too much of a liability to risk him being injured by running him again, so I'm afraid that will be the end and I hate it."
Baumgartner did not plan to attend the Belmont Stakes in New York, but the president of New York Racing Association called her husband and offered two tickets to race. Baumgartner and her husband will watch American Pharoah sport the number 5 from the stands on Saturday.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the most recent information.]