Monday, May 4, 2015

Kentucky Derby Winning Horse Named Pharoah Owned by Jews

I LOVE THE CREATIVE, AND OFTEN FUNNY, names given to racehorses. This year's Kentucky Derby had some of the best names yet. The winner, American Pharoah, has an unusual name and is actually a racehorse owned by an Orthodox Jewish father and son team.

52-year-old Ahmed Zayat was raised Jewish in Egypt. Together with his son Justin, he has watched three times as his horse opened a lead coming around the final turn in the Kentucky Derby. This past Saturday, however, was different. Ahmed and Justin Zayat watched their horse win the Kentucky Derby.

Ahmed Zayat emigrated from Egypt to the United States at 16 and earned his Master’s degree at Boston University. His family currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey and also has homes in Cairo and London.

Zayat made a $500,000 donation to The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. His fortune was made when he sold his company, Al Ahram Beverages, to Heineken in 2002 for $280 million.

According to, As Zayat "sat up at the podium with the victorious jockey and winning trainer of the Kentucky Derby-champion horse he owns, Ahmed Zayat was all smiles. Still basking in the glow from watching American Pharoah live up to the billing as the favorite in the 141st "Run for the Roses'' — and still wet from taking a champagne shower in the post-race ceremony — Zayat said he was "speechless and very emotional.''

"We've been very close,'' the 52-year old Teaneck resident said. "This is one special horse.''

It has been said that Zayat's father was the chief doctor to former Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat.

Thus far, no Orthodox rabbi has come forward to discuss the Jewish legal implications of an Orthodox Jewish man's horse winning the Ketucky Derby, which is always held on Shabbat. The Zayat family was in attendance at Saturday's Derby and collected the prize winnings for Zayat Racing Stables' American Pharoah's first place finish.