Elmont, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – For the first time since 1978, a 3-year-old thoroughbred has swept racing’s Triple Crown, with American Pharoah becoming just the 12th racehorse to do so.
A sold-out crowd of 90,000 was in attendance at Belmont Park to witness American Pharoah add the 147th Belmont Stakes to his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The win snapped the 37-year Triple Crown drought that existed since Affirmed last completed the feat in 1978.
American Pharoah, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, was the 3-5 morning line favorite and went off at those odds in the eight-horse field for the $1.5 million, 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”
The colt was again ridden by Victor Espinoza, who has been in the saddle for all of American Pharoah’s seven straight wins since the horse lost his debut start with Martin Garcia riding.
According to Espinoza, American Pharoah broke from the starting gate a bit slow, but last year’s champion 2-year-old took the lead quickly and set the entire pace in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
American Pharoah raced just off the rail with Mubtaahij and Materiality stalking the champ. Frosted, the 4-1 second pick, was running fourth but able gain ground around the final turn
However, there was no denying American Pharoah victory. The colt opened his lead down the stretch and posted a 5 1/2-length win over Frosted to become the first Triple Crown champion since Jimmy Carter was president.
“Wow, wow,” exclaimed Espinoza immediately after the race. “I was coming into this race with so much confidence. It’s just unbelievable.”
Finishing third was Keen Ice, followed by Mubtaahij, Frammento, Madefromlucky, Tale of Verve and Materiality.
American Pharoah covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.65, the fastest time since Point Given stopped the timer at 2:26.56 in 2001. Point Given was also trained by Baffert.
“I really enjoyed when he turned for home, listening to the crowd get into it,” Baffert said. “It was so loud, it was like magic. Watching him do that, I couldn’t believe I was watching it.”
Baffert had three previous opportunities to win the Triple Crown with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). Espinoza was the rider of War Emblem and last year was aboard California Chrome, which also won the first two legs before coming up short in the Belmont.
American Pharoah earned $800,000 with the Belmont victory and has won seven of eight career starts with earnings of $4,530,300.
American Pharoah returned $3.50, $2.80 and $2.50. Frosted paid $3.50 and $2.90 and Keen Ice paid $4.60 to show.