American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown!
The drought is finally over. After 37 years American Pharoah won the Triple Crown and earned his spot into immortality. His performance in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday brought euphoria to all racing fans, some fans shed tears. We all wondered if we would ever see another Triple Crown winner. There have been so many disappointments over the years. However on Saturday June 6th 2015 America Pharoah would answer the call with a dominating performance. He toyed with the field and every time he was pressed he responded. His pace became faster the longer the race went on and in the end he pulled away with ease and authority to capture one of sport’s most elusive crowns.
Immediately after the race while the celebration had hardly finished the experts were weighing in on where American Pharoah stands amongst other Triple Crown winners. Many handicappers including Andrew Beyer have stated he has had things all his way in races, that he has not faced adversity. I don’t understand that argument, is that a criteria for greatness? I don’t know, all I know is that good horses find a way to win. In the Derby I saw him sit behind horses then make a move and throughout a long tough drive through the long Churchill Downs stretch he showed heart and determination. In the Preakness in a swamp of mud and water he didn’t break at his best and instead of getting trapped on the rail he was hustled and asked to run to secure the lead in what setup to be a fairly fast early pace. From there he was never threatened and won with plenty in the tank. At the Belmont he immediately went to the front to set the pace. After a 48 and change half mile he just toyed with the field. In the end he drew off and the rest is now written in history.
Make no mistake this is a worthy champion and something tells me as good as he was Saturday his best may be yet to come. How does he stand amongst the other Triple Crown winners? In my opinion he stands side by side. I’ve been lucky enough to witness the last four Triple Crown winners each have won in their own unique manner and it is in the manner that American Pharoah ran in the Belmont that tells me he is just as good as most of the others who wear that crown.
The more I look at the Belmont the more impressed I get with the race he ran. First looking at the race time and fractions how does he stack up to other Triple Crown winner’s? In particular are the first three fractions of the race. This is where the skeptics have said he has gotten away with soft fractions. In the Belmont his fractions through the first half of the race were 24.06, 48.83 and 1:13.41 established on an easy lead. While it is considered a slow to moderate pace it is faster the both Affirmed and Seattle Slew ran through their first three quarters of a mile. As a matter of fact it is also faster than Whirlaway and Assault’s time through the midway point of the Belmont. Also note that all horses with the exception of Assault won the race wire to wire. So time wise through the first half of the Belmont American Pharoah is in good company.
Now let’s look at the last part of the race because this, I believe, is where you see just how good American Pharoah is. We start from the 1/2mile point in the race. At the 1/2mi AP ran in 48.83 (:48 4/5) with one mile left to run. He would run that last mile in 1:37.82 (1:37 4/5). Of the previous seven Triple Crown winners only two ran faster late miles: Secretariat 1:37.80 and Affirmed 1:36.80. Also what must be noted is that from the 1/2mi point to the finish he would run each successive quarter equal or faster than the previous: ½-3/4mi (24.58 ), ¾-mi (24.58 ), Mile- One mile and 1/4qtr (24.34)and 1-1/4-Fin (24.32).
Looking even further Americam Pharoah ran the final 6f in 1:13.24 only Affirmed was faster 1:12.80. For the last 1/2mile of the race only three Triple Crown winners have run under 50 seconds they would be American Pharoah 48.66, Secretariat 49.80 and Affirmed 49.40. And finally the last quarter of a mile: American Pharoah 24.32 (:24 1/5), Count Fleet 24.60 and War Admiral 24.40 and Secretariat 25.0
Again each race is different, each winner has had a different pace scenario (Secretariat’s race with a 1:09 4/5 three quarters no one can compare against that) to run against but again all but Assault had established an easy lead and won in wire to wire fashion so in this case we can compare. Just based on the raw time numbers he proved himself worthy of the status of Triple Crown winner. The knocks against him that he couldn’t finish, that he didn’t look like a horse that could go past 10f can now be thrown out. He won the Belmont in an authoritative manner the way a Triple Crown winner should run. He earned his status in history in which the final chapter is yet to be written.
To a generation who has never seen or witnessed a Triple Crown winner and to the old timers like myself now who have waited 37 years to have this feeling again, this is one moment we will never forget. You will know where you were and what you were doing and who you were with when he crossed the finish line. Hold onto that moment, keep that smile on your face this is our generation’s, the new millennium’s hero. You will talk about this for the rest of your life and treasure the moment that no one can take away.
Hail to the Pharoah, a worthy Triple Crown winner.
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