American Pharoah, the thoroughbred who claimed victory in this year’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Race Track in Louisville, KY, managed to capture another win in the 2015 Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, MD at Pimlico Race Course on May 16. Now, the Triple Crown contender is headed for a possible trifecta at the Belmont Stakes in Belmont, NY on June 6. If American Pharoah succeeds in his quest for Triple Crown victory, he will do what 13 horses have tried and failed to do since 1978’s Affirmed.
The Triple Crown contender followed up his photo finish Kentucky Derby win with a runaway, seven-length Preakness Stakes victory romp through torrential downpours and muddy track before record attendance of nearly 132,000 onlookers. Jockey Victor Espinoza was ready to prove that the Triple Crown contender belonged among the great 3-year-olds that have graced the annals of horse racing stardom, despite his boots being filled with water and a river amassing in front of his post position at the rail. However, against all odds and the weather Gods, victory was at hand for American Pharoah yet again.
With American Pharoah’s win at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness States, and going for Triple Crown victory, Trainer Bob Baffert has collected six Preakness wins and will send a record fourth horse to Belmont with a shot at Triple Crown victory. Many are speculating that horse racing has its next star in the Triple Crown contender, who won the Preakness Stakes in much the same manner that made him an odds-on favorite at the Kentucky Derby.
The storm, which created chaos about 30 minutes before the race, added an element of mystique to the Preakness States because it was impossible to predict how the jockeys and their horses would handle it. The rain and its accompanying winds were forces to be reckoned with as the horses prepared to be loaded into the gate. It was Mother Nature leaving her calling card as the visibility on the track was negligible.
Espinoza played the adverse weather and confidence that he was on the best horse to his advantage. The jockey hustled American Pharoah to the lead in short order and confronted their struggling competition in quick succession. At this point, Espinoza reigned American Pharoah in and allowed him a “breather,” who is code for cruise control mode. This strategy allowed the horse and jockey to conserve energy. As a result, once they straightened away in the stretch, American Pharoah was ready to finish off his competition in fine form.
As the prized thoroughbred prepares for the final 1.5 mile stretch at the Belmont Stakes that may or may not result in Triple Crown victory, the winner of the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, as well as the Triple Crown contender, will likely be up against competition filled with fresh horses, who have not experienced the same exhaustion that a thoroughbred in Triple Crown contention must endure.
While speculation and concerns are at an all-time high, history could be made on June 6 at the Belmont Stakes. If American Pharoah succeeds in his quest for Triple Crown victory, he will do what 13 horses have tried and failed to do since 1978’s Affirmed. The winner of 2015’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness States has his sights set on the Belmont Stakes and his eye on the ultimate prize–Triple Crown victory.
Commentary By Leigh Haugh
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New York Times–Preakness 2015: American Pharoah Wins Second Leg of Triple Crown
Fox News–American Pharoah Wins Preakness Stakes
USA TODAY–American Pharoah Wins Preakness, Triple Crown Next