AMERICAN PHAROAH WINNING THE BELMONT STAKES AND THE TRIPLE CROWN
History was made yesterday as American Pharoah became only the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. Ending a 37 year drought without a winner, since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, jockey Victor Espinoza rode American Pharoah to a victory at the Belmont Stakes. Espinoza had had two previous opportunities to win the Triple Crown with California Chrome last year and War Emblem in 2002. Winning the Triple Crown with American Pharoah, Espinoza also established himself as one of the greatest jockeys of all time as well with this crowning achievement.
SEVEN OF ELEVEN TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS, CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: WAR ADMIRAL 1937; AFFIRMED (right) 1978; COUNT FLEET 1943; CITATION 1948; SIR BARTON 1919; OMAHA 1935; SEATTLE SLEW 1977
To be a Triple Crown winner, a horse (and his jockey) must accomplish the grueling task of winning the Kentucky Derby (1 1/4 mi), the Preakness Stakes (1 3/16 mi), and the Belmont Stakes (1 1/2 mi), all in the same racing season. Only 11 thoroughbreds have ever accomplished this feat since the series began in 1919, when Sir Barton won the first Triple Crown. Due to the longer length of the track and the fresh competition of horses who have not competed in the previous two races, it is very difficult for a Triple Crown contender to win that last race at Belmont. You may remember Smarty Jones in 2004, I’ll Have Another in 2013, and California Chrome in 2014, who were three of the 23 horses who have won at the Derby and at Preakness, but not at Belmont. The last horse to achieve horse racing’s most prestigious honor was Affirmed in 1978.