The horse American Pharoah is secure in his place of horse racing history by winning the Belmont Stakes, making him the first horse since 1978 to be a Triple Crown winner. Some in the racing industry state the win has breathed new life into the sport, because the win proves it is possible in the modern age.
American Pharoah, a three-year-old bay horse raised in southern California, won the Belmont Stakes with more than five lengths against seven other horses. His jockey, Victor Espinoza, allowed the horse to start slowly and paced him in a slight lead, then backing off to find the horse’s comfortable gait. Espinoza saved the horse’s energy for a strong finish. The jockey said he just knew the Belmont Stakes would be the race he would win. “He was special from the first time I ever rode him,” Espinoza said.
The Belmont Stakes is the final and longest race in the Triple Crown, and is attended by more than 90,000 people. It is a mile and a half long and comes within seven weeks of the other two races in the competition, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Many horse owners do not put horses in all three contests anymore because of the timing and the difficulty. In fact, American Pharoah was the only horse this year to compete in all three races.
That makes this win even more unique, according to those familiar with horse racing. Horses competing in all three of races in the Triple Crown are facing horses that have rested out a race or two. American Pharoah faced all fresh horses in the Belmont Stakes. His win makes him one of a dozen horses over the years to become Triple Crown winners. The horse Affirmed was the last to win the distinction in 1978. Before that, it was Seattle Slew who won in 1977 and the famous horse, Secretariat, who won the Triple Crown in 1973. The lack of a Triple Crown winner in more than 40 years has prompted some to believe that it could not be done under today’s rules with modern horses. American Pharoah’s win at the Belmont Stakes, making him a Triple Crown winner, has brought hope to many other trainers and owners, according to racing enthusiasts.
American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, is soaking in this win. Baffert had a chance of a Triple Crown win three times before, but the horses failed to win each time. He said it takes a special horse to get the win, and American Pharoah was the horse.
American Pharoah, owned by Ahmed Zayat, is already set to stud. Zayat secured a deal with Coolmore, an international breeding operation and American Pharoah will live at Ashford Stud in Kentucky. However, Zayat said that may not happen in the horse’s immediate future. He told reporters he is entertaining the idea of continuing to race the horse. The next big race is the Breeder’s Cup in Lexington, Ky.
Most of those in the racing world said continuing to race American Pharoah is a bad idea because there is a risk of injury if he continues. Since the stallion – the only living Triple Crown winner – is now worth more than anyone can accurately estimate, the idea of continuing to race him seems implausible. Zayat said he would like to see the public enjoy American Pharoah a bit more before he retires him to stud. He said the horse, which Zayat states moves like a Ferrari, means so much to the sport that he should stay in the limelight for a while.
Whether American Pharoah races or is retired to stud, the horse’s Belmont Stakes win and Triple Crown distinction make him a legend in the sport. Those who love horse racing state they hope the legend continues to draw interest in the future.
By Melody Dareing
Wall Street Journal: American Pharoah: Triple Crown Win Rewrites Racing History
Reuters: American Pharoah aces each test in Triple Crown run
LA Times: American Pharoah is horse racing’s Triple Crown prince with Belmont win
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