He’s a Winner! American Pharoah Wins Belmont Stakes, Claims First Triple Crown Since 1978

American Pharoah was ridden by Victor Espinoza, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by the Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
American Pharoah was ridden by Victor Espinoza, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by the Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

American Pharoah, the flashy colt with the smooth stride, won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in a generation and etching himself in the history books.

Since 1978, when Affirmed swept the three races, 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. But none of them won the Belmont.

On Saturday, American Pharoah broke that 37-year jinx. He now enters the pantheon as the 12th Triple Crown winner, joining 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).

American Pharoah went right to the lead and led the whole way, pulling away in the stretch for the victory. He finished the mile and a half in 2:26.65. Frosted was second, five and a half lengths back, and Keen Ice third.

“The way he hit the ground, you couldn’t even feel how fast he was moving,” jockey Victor Espinoza told NBC.

“I’m very emotional,” said the trainer Bob Baffert. “I’m thinking about my parents. I wish they were alive to see this.”

“New Yorkers, all racing fans, this is for you,” said owner Ahmed Zayat as he hoisted the Belmont trophy.

The field of eight on Saturday was the smallest since 2007, when the filly Rags to Riches prevailed in a seven-horse field. But American Pharoah did defeat 31 challengers in his Triple Crown sweep, second only to War Admiral, who outran 32 in 1937.

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Source: The New York Times | MELISSA HOPPERT

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