Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



American Pharoah Proves That History Can Be Repeated 1

Posted on June 06, 2015 by Dean Hybl
American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

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 →

Okay, We Care About Horse Racing Again (At Least for the Next Three Weeks) 17

Posted on May 17, 2014 by Dean Hybl
California Chrome will look to break the 36 year drought of Triple Crown champions.

California Chrome will look to break the 36 year drought of Triple Crown champions.

It is very likely that you had no idea that the Preakness Stakes was held this afternoon near Baltimore. However, now that California Chrome has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown you can guarantee that you will hear plenty about the Belmont Stakes, which will be held on June 7th.

While all but the most die-hard of sports fans generally don’t pay much attention to the three triple crown horse races contested over a five year period from early May through early June each year, there is still a little magic left in the idea of the Triple Crown.

Always recognized as an amazing accomplishment, it has been 36 years since a horse has been able to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in the same year. Since Affirmed became the 11th horse to accomplish the feat in 1978 (ironically the third horse to do it in five years following Secretariat and Seattle Slew), 12 horses have won the first two races, but failed to capture the most physically demanding and longest of the three races.

The first few times that a horse fell short – Spectacular Bid in 1979, Pleasant Colony in 1981, Alysheba in 1987 and Sunday Silence in 1989 – the failure wasn’t necessarily a huge deal as it had only been a few years since the last Triple Crown and each had come pretty close to joining the elite club. Read the rest of this entry →

Eddie Arcaro: Triple Crown Jockey 5

Posted on May 08, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Eddie Arcaro and Citation

The Sports Then and Now May Vintage Athlete of the Month registered the greatest accomplishment in his sport not once, but twice.

Still considered by many to be the greatest jockey in horse racing history, Eddie Arcaro was aboard the winning horse in a record 17 Triple Crown races. In 1941 he guided Whirlaway to the Triple Crown with wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Seven years later he duplicated the accomplishment aboard Citation. Read the rest of this entry →

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