90,000 people gathered on Saturday, June 6 to watch one of the most exciting events in history as American Pharoah ended the 37-year drought and became the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown™! I think deep down we all knew American Pharoah would be the horse to do it. It was simply incredible to watch such a talented horse race down the track knowing no one was going to catch him.
American Pharoah didn’t have the best break from the gate, but it didn’t matter. His athleticism and stamina carried him all the way to the finish line, and he finished a solid 5 ½ lengths ahead of the second place finish, Frosted. He never once slowed down as he powered through the 1 ½ mile race in a time of 2:26.65, the second fastest time achieved by a Triple Crown™ winner.
American Pharoah can now be added to the history books next to the 11 other Triple Crown™ winners: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
What an exciting day in horse racing history!
Triple Crown™ Challenges
There is no doubt that winning the Triple Crown™ is one of the most difficult achievements in sports. With three tough races in just five weeks, it’s also no surprise that most thoroughbreds fall short at the Belmont Stakes, especially when most of them have never been subjected to such a brutal schedule.
What about the length? At a mile and a half long, the track at Belmont is rather large and not what most horses are used to. Compare this to the Kentucky Derby being 1 ¼ miles and the Preakness Stakes being 1 3/16 miles, Belmont requires endurance and good strategy; Victor Espinoza and American Pharoah brought just that.
The track at Belmont is also much sandier than other tracks. The regular occurrence of rain plus humidity requires a sandier mix to be used on the track. It isn’t called “Big Sandy” for nothing! Some horses aren’t accustomed to this, which can affect their chances of winning. But then of course, there’s American Pharoah, who can easily handle any track and any weather.
Until American Pharoah, every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 2006 had been a horse that did not run in the Preakness. This means that the horses that didn’t run in the Preakness were much better rested and primed for the Belmont. It seems like a big disadvantage for the horse seeking the Triple Crown™, as he does not get nearly the amount of time to rest.
Some people deem the entire situation unfair. It sparked quite the controversy in 2014 when Tonalist beat California Chrome after running in neither the Derby nor the Preakness. Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, unleashed a tirade against horses who do not run all three legs of the Triple Crown™.
However, would winning the Triple Crown™ be as exciting and prestigious if it wasn’t so difficult? Probably not.
It does make you wonder why it took 37 years for a new winner. But the reality is horses like American Pharoah don’t come around very often.
Want to catch the first leg of the Triple Crown™ in 2016? Check out Derby Experiences Official Ticket Packages direct from Churchill Downs and claim your spot at next year’s Kentucky Derby!