37-year drought is over: American Pharoah completes Triple Crown with Belmont win
ELMONT, N.Y. — He did it!
American Pharoah ended thoroughbred horse racing’s 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the grueling Belmont Stakes wire-to-wire on Saturday.
It’s the 12th time a horse has won the Triple Crown but the first since Affirmed in 1978.
American Pharoah got out of the gate well and went to the lead, and he never trailed in the eight-horse race, pulling away down the stretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths as the huge crowd at Belmont Park roared.
American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby on May 2 then captured the rain-drenched Preakness Stakes two weeks later to set up a run at the elusive triple in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.
American Pharoah was the 14th horse — and the third in the past four years — since Affirmed to go into the Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown but the first to pull off the feat.
Trainer Bob Baffert missed out on three previous tries at the Triple Crown, with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002.
“It takes a great horse to do it,” Baffert said. “He’s a great horse.”
It was sweet redemption for jockey Victor Espinoza, who previously missed out on the Triple Crown with War Emblem and California Chrome in 2014.
“It’s just unbelieveable how it all turned out,” Espinoza said.
Triple Crown winners
1919: Sir Barton
1930: Gallant Fox
1937: War Admiral
1943: Count Fleet
1977: Seattle Slew
2015: American Pharoah