Richie Sambora Dedicates His Upcoming Single 'Rise' to Triple Crown Winner American Pharaoh

The die-hard horse racing fan is heading to New Jersey's Monmouth Park this weekend to sing the anthem honoring the champion thoroughbred – and to cheer him on

Photo: Courtesy Richie Sambora

Richie Sambora is such a fan of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah that he offered up a song to the champion thoroughbred.

The singer, songwriter and guitarist, who is a diehard horse race fan, was unable to attend June’s Belmont Stakes, where American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in more than three decades.

The Zayat family, who owns American Pharoah had invited Sambora to join them at Belmont after hearing about his solid and vocal support on his last big races.

“It was my daughter Ava‘s graduation in California that same afternoon – I couldn’t go,” he tells PEOPLE. “But I did watch it!”

Earlier this month, Sambora traveled to Del Mar, California, to meet up with the Zayats, their team and to meet the horse he had predicted would win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont.

When Sambora met the horse, kissing him on the nose, he began talking to the champion’s trainer Bob Baffert.

“He said, ‘This horse needs a song,’ ” recalls Sambora, who was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in June, where he teamed up with Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin to induct late blues legend Willie Dixon.

“I said, ‘I don’t need to write one. I got a sticky hit you’re looking for on my up and coming album, at the end of the year, ‘” he says.

The song is aptly called “Rise.” “I thought this song was so perfect because over the years, I have been following the attempts of so many horses to take the illusive Triple Crown,” he says. “It is great anthem for this sport of kings, horse racing.”

The lyrics, he says, “are heavy and are associated with victory by rising above all obstacles. When doubters think you’re out, you rise up and you steal the crown. It’s a very inspiring, determined and positive message that is not just limited to sports. It’s also about political, social and other issues.”

On Sunday, Sambora will be joining the Zayat family once again, this time at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park, where American Pharoah will be running in the $1.75 million William Hill Haskell Invitational.

“I’m excited for Sunday,” he says. “I know he is gonna win again! What could be greater than spending a day with a great Jersey family – the Zayats – Jersey folks and a Jersey horse running at my hometown track, Monmouth Park?”

Though Sambora headlined the Kentucky Derby’s legendary pre-party Barnstable Brown this year, he missed the race because he left the next morning to fly home to play another fundraiser at his daughter Ava’s school.

Adds Sambora: “I’ve been betting big on my boy American Pharoah and Sunday isn’t going to be any different!”

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