Tuesday, June 09, 2015


2015 Triple Crown


One of the most anticipated events in sport history took place last Saturday in New York State. American Pharoah broke from the post and led the Belmont Stakes race from wire to wire to complete the Triple Crown.



The win capped an amazing season for the horse, his seventh victory in a row. It also ended the drought regarding the Triple Crown, the first in 37 years. With jockey, Victor Espinoza in his back, American Pharoah easily outdistanced the field, and won by 5 ½ lengths. It was the first Triple Crown victory for a Mexican jockey, and the first for trainer Bob Baffert.



One of the questions that always arises after such an event is whether or not they will let the horse run again, or turn him out to pasture. There is a fabulous amount of money to be earned once such a horse finishes a career; however, Baffert has indicated that Pharoah’s career is not over. In no uncertain terms, he stated that the horse will definitely race again.



The Triple Crown’s first event is the Kentucky Derby. It more or less is the start of the season in early May, although there are preliminary races beforehand to weed out contenders. Eighteen horses started the Derby. Pharoah was sent off as the betting favourite, but the race was by no means a cake walk for the colt. He took the lead in the stretch, and won by a length. Espinoza went to the whip 32 times to coax Pharoah to the finish line. The chief steward at the track, Barbara Borden stated that his use of the crop did not exceed the regulations, and no discipline was warranted.



Some observers believed that Pharoah might have expended too much energy at the Derby, and might not be ready for the Preakness in Baltimore. Bob Baffert had won the Preakness six times, and was confident in his horse. Again, the bettors made Pharoah the favourite, and he did not disappoint. He jumped out to the lead on a sloppy track, and won be seven lengths.



With his win at the Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah convinced a lot of horse people that he is a true champion. He won in all types of conditions, at various lengths, on different tracks. Naturally his feat will be compared to all other great race horses who have won the Triple Crown. All three races take place within a five week span, with much of the travel by air. Therefore, comparisons to other winners in the past may not be justified.


Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973. He won the Derby in 1:59, the Preakness in 1:53, and the Belmont in 2:24. Those records still stand today.


The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978, just a year after Seattle Slew won in 1977. Other winners from Thirties onward include: War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), and Citation (1948).



There was a suggestion after the race that perhaps a “Match Race” might be good for the game. I remember Swaps and Nashua going head to head, with no other horses on the track. Those are exciting events.



More than ninety thousand fans witnessed the event. It was reported that they made more noise than you would hear at a Michigan football game. Great stuff for racing fans.


James Hurst


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