Pharoah's owner 'pumped' for Triple Crown

Tue Jun 2, 2015 4:54pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - American Pharoah's owner Ahmed Zayat welcomes a field of fresh horses for Saturday's $1 million Belmont Stakes, saying that his battled-tested colt will "have to earn it" to end a nearly four-decade Triple Crown drought.

"In order to define greatness, you have to do things that have not been done," Zayat told Reuters in a telephone call. "He needs to prove that he's a cut above."

None of American Pharoah's nine expected rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes raced in the Kentucky Derby and also the Preakness, with some skipping both races.

Zayat's colt captured the 18-horse Kentucky Derby on May 2 by a length after a difficult trip, and then two weeks later easily claimed the Preakness Stakes in a driving rainstorm.

Thirteen times since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 has a horse won the Derby and Preakness but each has failed at the Belmont Stakes, usually running out of gas in the stretch.

"My horse is going to have to earn it," boasted Zayat, whose horses finished second three times over the last six years in the Kentucky Derby before American Pharoah won America's most celebrated race.

Zayat, 52, said he would like to see Kentucky-bred American

Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, complete the Triple Crown for the health of the industry.   Continued...

Jun 2, 2015; Elmont, NY, USA;  American Pharoah arrives at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports