NEW YORK – Like a lot of athletes, American Pharoah has his quirks.
The brown colt is easy to pick out on the racetrack: He's the one with the shortest tail.
American Pharoah will try to become horse racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978 when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Trainer Bob Baffert describes the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner as "a really kind, sweet horse." That's an unusual temperament among racehorses, most of which are aggressive due to their high-strung nature. The colt's favorite snack is carrots, and he'll eat them out of anyone's hand around the barn.
His sidekick is Smokey, the mild-mannered stable pony that accompanies American Pharoah to and from the track during training.
Here are some more quirks to know about American Pharoah:
Ear plugs: Yep, he's sensitive to sound. Baffert found that out in American Pharoah's first career race at Del Mar, where he got agitated in the paddock. Now the colt doesn't leave his stall unless he has his ear plugs in.
Left front shoe: American Pharoah wears a protective plate on the sole of his left front foot while racing and training. The plate, which goes under the horseshoe, protects the triangular frog in his hoof and acts as a shock absorber when his foot hits the ground. Baffert said he started using the plate after American Pharoah bruised the frog in February.
Short tail: As the story goes, another horse chewed the end of American Pharoah's tail off during his days on a farm near Ocala, Fla., where he lived as a 2-year-old. The result was a tail that is much shorter than most thoroughbreds. A YouTube video spoof set to the hit song "All About That Bass" highlights the colt's tail.
Misspelled name: The Zayat family likes involving fans in the naming of their newborn thoroughbreds. A female fan submitted the name American Pharoah through an online contest, the family liked it and never noticed the misspelling of Pharoah until it was too late. The correct spelling is pharaoh, which is an Egyptian ruler. Ahmed Zayat is from Egypt and liked the name because it referenced his heritage.
• A $1.65 million lawsuit against Zayat was thrown out by a New Jersey federal judge on Thursday. Newark Judge William J. Martini ruled that the lawsuit, a breach of contract that stemmed from an alleged 2003 gambling debt, surpassed the six-year statute of limitations in the state of New Jersey and that there was nothing stopping the plaintiff from filing earlier.
• Moment Is Right and jockey Joel Rosario repelled a stretch challenge from Decked Out to win the $237,500 Astoria Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Thursday at Belmont Park. It was the 104th running of the race.