American Pharoah captures U.S. Triple Crown
By Steve Ginsburg
ELMONT, New York (Reuters) - American Pharoah entered the pantheon of U.S. thoroughbred racing's all-time greats by winning the Belmont Stakes wire-to-wire on Saturday to become the first horse to capture the coveted 'Triple Crown' in nearly four decades.
In winning a seventh straight race, American Pharoah became the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
As he crossed the finish line, jockey Victor Espinoza pumped his fist as the crowd of 90,000 at sold-out Belmont Park roared.
Fans raised their arms in delight, with scores taking pictures to capture one of the rarest moments in sports.
Espinoza, who failed twice before to win the Triple Crown by losing the Belmont Stakes, did not have to wait long before knowing the third time would be the charm.
"I’m telling you at the first turn, that was the best feeling I ever had," he said. "The way he runs and stretches legs, and the way he hits the ground, it doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast. It feels like he’s in slow motion."
Wood Memorial winner Frosted finished second, 5-1/2 lengths behind American Pharoah, while Keen Ice grabbed the show spot.
The victory secured American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert's first Triple Crown after the Hall of Famer was denied three previous times at the Belmont Stakes, with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002. Continued...