After 37 years and many close calls, it might have been fair to believe that horse racing in the 21st Century was not destined for a Triple Crown winner. However, that was before American Pharoah did what 13 previous horses could not since Affirmed in 1978 and added victory at the Belmont Stakes to wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
With his wire-to-wire victory, American Pharoah is now the 12th member of an impressive club that began with Sir Barton in 1919 and also includes well known horses including Secretariat, Affirmed, Citation, Whirlaway and War Admiral.
While much has been made of the 37 year drought, perhaps the real number to indicate just how challenging it is to win the Triple Crown is that American Pharoah is just the fourth winner in the last 67 years. In fact, if you set aside the anomaly between 1973 and 1978 when there were three Triple Crown winners in a six year stretch, American Pharoah accomplished what 20 horses had not been able to complete since Citation in 1948.
That both jockey Victor Espinoza (twice) and trainer Bob Baffert (three times) had been in this position previously gave both of them an interesting perspective and understanding of the pressure and extra demands surrounding a run for the Triple Crown.
Of course, the different component of the equation in 2015 was the horse and American Pharoah proved that he was up to the challenge. That he headed right to the front and then stayed there throughout, actually growing his lead over the final quarter mile, illustrated that he was indeed a champion worthy of immortality. Read the rest of this entry →