“Its Meant To Be…” – American Pharoah Rides Into Immortality [VIDEO]
Its the only major sports title that doesn't have a defending champion. Its the only major sport title in which the competitor going for the crown has to deal with opponents who come into the deciding competition rested, having gotten to sit out part of the championship. Its horse racing's Triple Crown, and it hasn't seen a champion since 1978. Its a lot of pressure to put on a three-year old.
Since 1979, 13 horses have come close enough to smell the roses, horse racing's ultimate prize, the Triple Crown. All 13 have failed in their quest, fading in their attempts to joins horses like Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Citation as legends, and instead became side-notes in horse racing history. All thirteen lost to horses that missed one of the first two races to play spoiler in the Belmont Stakes.
Then came a beautiful day in upstate New York and a horse named American Pharoah!
American Pharoah came out of the gates slow from the #5 position, but something about the way he took the lead right away and never looked back, told you that you were watching history being made. Many thought the horse, who had never raced at this length, would tire down the stretch. But jockey Victor Espinoza, who was riding on his record setting third career shot at the triple crown, drove his stead home down the stretch, opening what was a 1 and a half length lead going into the final turn into a commanding 5 and 1/2 length win. Frosted, who many considered American Pharoah's toughest competition, finished a distant second. Espinoza, 43, becomes the oldest jockey to win the triple crown.
In the history the Triple Crown, American Pharoah became only the 12th horse to capture The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes and The Belmont Stakes. The first, Sir Baton in 1919, was not even recognized as a winner of The U.S. Triple Crown of Horse Racing until the term began being used officially in 1948. Until today, the most recent, Affirmed took the Crown in 1978. The drought American Pharoah broke, 37 years, is the longest in history. American Pharoah became only the fourth horse, joining Affirmed, Secretariat (1972) and Seattle Slew (1977) to have won the title since 1948.
There were many that thought that the Triple Crown may not be won again in their lifetimes. In 2014, a horse named California Chrome (also ridden by Espinoza) destroyed all if its competition in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Then a horse named Tonalist came along, a horse that skipped the first two legs of the Triple Crown, came from out the pack to beat heavily favored California Chrome. The favorite faded down the stretch and failed to bring home horse racing's most prized title, finishing fourth. This led California Chrome's owner, Steve Coburn (no relation), to question the rules of the Triple Crown, calling the others "cheaters" who "took the coward's way out".
Victor Espinoza set record for the most tries at the Triple Crown for a jockey with three. Espinoza previous two shots at immortality were on War Emblem (2002) and California Chrome. It was trainer Bob Belfort's fourth try at the Triple Crown. Back in May, Baffert was asked his feelings regarding the rules that have made it seem like an impossible dream. Baffert replied "I think it's getting harder and harder now, I think the times have changed. You run against more horses."
"I've been there three times and I came up short, but I really don't think about it now. To me, it's like if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
Racing is a game of hopes and dreams. On Saturday, for the horse with the misspelled name and the chewed off tail, hopes and dreams came true and greatness was realized!