A Jewish American Arab’s horse, American Pharoah, won the Triple Crown on Saturday. Ahmed Zayat is a Jewish Egyptian immigrant to the United States and owner of Zayat Stables LLC. Zayat is the former owner of Al Ahram Beverages in Egypt which was purchased by Heineken in 2002. American Pharaoh is ranked by the Los Angeles Times as the 8th greatest race horse.
By Ray Hanania
American Arabs were excited to learn that the horse leading the racing industry this year is owned by an American Arab from Egypt who happens to be Jewish.
The owner, Ahmed Zayat, was born in Cairo in 1962 where he lived until he was 18 years old. He immigrated and settled in the United States but spent most of his life in Egypt managing his family companies.
Zayat is an example of a Jewish Arab who lived with respect and good relations in an Arab country despite the conflict, contradicting the exaggerated propaganda from Israel’s extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who continues to try and force Jews living in Arab lands to flee.
American Pharoah won the triple crown after winning three races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday (June 6, 2015).
Zayat has always been proud of his Egyptian heritage and one of his premiere horses in his Zayat Stables is Pioneer of the Nile, which ran 2nd in the Kentucky Derby in 2009. Pioneer of the Nile sired American Pharoah.
A controversy ensued not over the owners Jewish heritage, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or politics, but over the naming of the horse. Actually the spelling of the horse’s name.
The name “American Pharoah” is a misspelling of the phrase “American Pharaoh.” The correct word, Pharaoh, is a title used to identify the rulers of ancient Egypt. The media has used both spellings, although the misspelled word is the one that has been trademarked.
Zayat’s son Justin Zayat ran a contest on social media to select the horse’s name after it was sired. The winning entry had the word spelled wrong and it was registered after it was cut and pasted on the electronic registration form.
Zayat and his family are Orthodox Jews, and Zayat’s Hebrew name is Ephraim (אפרים). He currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Joanne. They have four children: Ashley, Justin, Benjamin, and Emma. Their eldest son, Justin, helps run the Zayat Stables operation, and their youngest, Emma, inspired the name of another horse in the stable, LittlePrincessEemma, the dam (mother) of American Pharoah.