American Pharoah wins Triple Crown
Wake up the echoes. Shake down the records.
American Pharoah didn’t have to be told the sport of thoroughbred racing needed a boost of four-legged energy like it hadn’t seen since the mighty Secretariat was drawing the keen interest of most of America.
It had been 37 years since any thoroughbred had won the Triple Crown for three-year-olds way back in 1978. Secretariat had done his fancy footwork back in 1973.
After winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the nutmeg brown colt came to Belmont Park with both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness titles in hand. His next assignment was the marathon-like Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2-miles.
Was the Triple Crown still possible after such a long interval between that last time it had been accomplished by Affirmed and American Pharoah’s mission of capturing his own lightning in a bottle here last Saturday?
The public crowded the paddock at Belmont Park as the thoroughbreds were saddled for the Belmont Stakes.
Those many thousands in the grandstand waited and waited for the race to begin near 7 p.m. American Pharoah was bet down to 3-to-5 odds by those wanting to see history made, many never seeing a Triple Crown in their lifetime.
The starting gate finally opened. American Pharoah was off a step slow, but quickly gained a unhurried lead and saved ground along the rail.
Crowd noise could be judged between a collective bellow and a loud roar.
Around the final sweeping turn the eight-horse field came. And American Pharoah was still in front.
Down the stretch they came. Would there be a successful challenge to the long-striding champion’s bid for racing history?
No. American Pharoah only improved his lead . . . finally winning by a breezy 5 1/2 lengths.
The noise level only increased. The 90,000-plus gathered in and around the massive four-level grandstand couldn’t stop celebrating the instant history they had just witnessed.
Secretariat’s 31-length romp in his Belmont Stakes had people crying with joy, crying because they were in the presence of such greatness they guessed would never be seen again.
American Pharoah’s win was just as much relief as it was anything. A thoroughbred had finally done it again.
Jockey Victor Espinoza sensed the crowds pleasure and letting loose of its emotions. He brought his charger back in front of the grandstand and moved a long distance past the winners circle to let the appreciative assemblage continue their vocal celebration.
Just a few days after the Triple Crown was made realistic again, the owner and trainer of American Pharoah have announced he will race again before being retired to stud.
After an extended rest from the arduous task of racing three times in five weeks, America’s newest sweetheart will race again in one of the following: the Jim Dandy on August 1 at Saratoga, the Haskell on August 2 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, the Pacific Classic on August 22 at Del Mar in California or the Travers on August 29 at Saratoga.
Should he be fit and sound after one of those tests, he is likely to be pointed to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31 at Keeneland Race Course near Lexington, Kentucky.
American Pharoah awoke the thunderous echoes that had long ago been muffled after the glorious two-year racing stand that was given the public by owner Penny Chenery and her immortal Secretariat.
Some cried at Belmont this past Saturday. And fortunately for thoroughbred racing and his adoring public, American Pharoah will give them a chance to let the tears of happiness flow again before he is retired.