On June 6, American Pharoah, a horse owned by Egypt-born Orthodox Jew Ahmed Zayat, won the Triple Crown—the first horse to do so since 1978 when Affirmed won. Here are some facts about Zayat’s Jewish connections.
Zayat is an Orthodox Jew who grew up in a wealthy suburb of Cairo—Maadi— where his father was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s doctor. Zayat went to college in the United States, at Yeshiva University, and then went to work for a haredi Orthodox Jewish real estate developer, Zev Wolfson, who is also a wealthy real estate entrepreneur and a major Jewish philanthropist.
Zayat frequently donates to Jewish causes, as he once donated $500,000 to the Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramus, New Jersey.
Zayat also made sure to observe Shabbat before the race. According to The Associated Press, Zayat and his family slept in RV’s on June 5 and walked to Belmont Park in New York the next day in order to observe the Sabbath.
Zayat lives with his family in Teaneck, New Jersey, a town that is known for its high Jewish population and attends Congregation Bnai Yeshurun.
Zayat and his family also keep kosher and work out eating arrangements with racetracks they visit on Saturdays.
Zayat once named a yearling “Maimonides” to promote peace among Jews and Arabs.
Zayat’s Hebrew name is Ephraim, which is often used by his family and community.
American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, who is not Jewish, visited the Lubavitcher rebbe’s grave on June 4 in Cambria Heights, in the borough of Queens, where he prayed and presumably asked for good luck for his colt.