American Pharoah Wins First Triple Crown Since 1978
In a great representation of his run to the Triple Crown, American Pharoah was never challenged at the Belmont Stakes, with his wire to wire run to victory giving the sport its first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
While plenty of horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, since Affirmed last won all three in 1978, there was a different feeling surrounding American Pharoah, who entered his final race for immortality as a 3/5 favorite. And American Pharoah proved those who felt he was better than recent Triple Crown candidates right with a breathtaking performance at Belmont Park.
What makes the Belmont Stakes so difficult, even for horses that have managed to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is its distance. At one and a half miles, it truly takes a special horse and jockey combination to traverse that great a distance without some combination of jockey error or horse fatigue coming into play, but American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza not only avoided mistakes, they decimated the field.
American Pharoah led this race from start to finish, a strategy we've seen recent Triple Crown contenders unsuccessfully employ during losing runs. Generally speaking, those who have come up short in trying to lead from wire to wire wanted to avoid getting boxed in by other horses, but ran out of steam in the final stretch. American Pharoah, though, actually increased his lead from the top of the final stretch to the finish line in an incredible display of preservation by Espinoza and sheer athleticism from the horse itself.
When all was said and done, American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes by five and a half lengths, and finished the Triple Crown bid off, something many weren't sure we'd ever see again. In all, American Pharoah finished the mile and a half race in 2 minutes and 26.65 seconds, blowing away Materiality in the final quarter mile.
Now that history has been made, owner Ahmed Zayat will have to choose whether or not he wants to send this legendary horse straight into breeding or race him into lucrative showcase races, for which American Pharoah's presence will certainly attract a hefty price tag.
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