There is something visceral about watching a majestic animal connect with its gift and push the limits of its physical boundaries. We’re brought back to a childhood connection to the Black Stallion, the Last Unicorn, Flicka, The Horse Whisperer and of course National Velvet. Fascination with horses is nothing new, but there is something extra special about a real life rider-horse fairytail. American Pharoah gave us that sense of excitement and joy this weekend.
“American Pharoah broke from the No. 5 gate, 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 three year old colt, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza barrelled through the eight horse field with 3-2 odds. “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).”
The Belmont is the longest race out of the three Triple Crown races, 1 ½ miles. The Kentucky Derby is 1 ¼ miles and the Preakness Stakes is 1 3/16 miles. Since 1978, 13 horses have won both the Derby and the Preakness, but never the Belmont due to the battle between speed and stamina each horse faces.
“As American Pharoah came out of the far turn and squared his shoulders to let his rider Victor Espinoza stare down the long withering stretch of Belmont Park, a sense of inevitability surged through this mammoth old grandstand. The fans in a capacity crowd strained on the tips of their toes and let out a roar from deep in their souls. It was going to end, finally — this 37-year search for a great racehorse.”
Here’s a clip of the race.
“Everyone knows there is no cheering in the press box, and crying is frowned upon as well. Both rules were violated as American Pharoah thundered down the stretch and into the record books, setting off a cathartic celebration at Belmont Park and beyond among those who appreciate racehorses.”
“Even the most casual sports fan recognizes and is moved by sublime athletic achievement. During the past five weeks, American Pharoah has reminded them what an ethereal creature a thoroughbred is and how beautiful it is in full flight.”
“New Yorkers, all racing fans, this is for you,” said owner Ahmed Zayat as he hoisted the Belmont trophy.