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Friday, June 5, 2015

Belmont Stakes: Racing’s Triple Crown – American Pharoah Will Take It All

First appeared on Blogcritics.

crown1 The seventh game of Stanley Cup Championship series, the seventh game of baseball’s World Series, football’s Super Bowl – these are just some of the premier sporting events for fans to savor and enjoy. If a team wins in any of these games, a championship is bestowed upon it, but this is based on a group of players working together to achieve their goal. No one person’s performance can secure the championship, though a Most Valuable Player can be named who helped get the rest there.

There is the Grand Slam in tennis to consider – where one person wins all four of the major world tournaments. That difficult accomplishment is based on his or her training, skills, and perseverance; however, it still is not as arduous as getting one horse to win racing’s Triple Crown (winning the three major races – The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and this weekend’s Belmont Stakes in New York).

You have a complicated situation in racing that involves owner-trainer-jockey-and horse. There are many factors that people use to evaluate the chances of a horse winning. I have been hearing on sports talk radio and reading in the papers all about “better’s guides” to the race, and everyone seems to think that they know which horse is going to take it all. They use previous races for the horse, the jockey’s record, the trainer’s record, and sometimes tea leaves to come up with the odds for the horses.

crown2The exciting prospect of a Triple Crown winner makes this race garner even more attention. When you think about the 1.5 miles to be run and the $1.5 million purse, the pressure mounts as we wait for the 6:50 p.m. (EST) post time for the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes. American Pharoah has a chance to become the first horse since Affirmed accomplished the task back in 1978 with jockey Steve Cauthen aboard.

To gauge the difficulty of winning a Triple Crown, there have been only 11 horses to accomplish the task, with Affirmed being the last (coming after Seattle Slew in 1977 and Secretariat in 1973). After those 70's champions, you have to go back 25 years to 1948 to find the next Triple Crown winner (Citation), so this is a rare accomplishment, but one that many racing enthusiasts believe American Pharaoh can pull off. Trainer Bob Baffert has never won a Triple Crown and has only one victory at Belmont (in 2001 with Point Given). So many observers believe that this is his time, and he has excellent jockey Victor Espinoza, coming off his wins riding the horse in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

crown3Yet there are so many other factors involved, including weather conditions and what post the horse is bolting from (American Pharoah drew Number 5 post which is better than getting the rail as in the last race). All indications are that American Pharoah is strong, healthy, and ready for the chance at glory to become only the 12th horse to accomplish the task.

Are the stars aligned for American Pharoah? I don’t know about you, but I am putting my money on him based on a gut feeling that the time is now for this magnificent 3-year-old with Victor Espinoza in the saddle. All the excitement and hype will matter little at post time, but this horse has a chance to become one of the greatest in racing history.


 Photo credits: ny daily news, getty images, triplecrownbus.com 

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