With history running against him, American Pharoah could be the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years with a victory in the 147th Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, New York.
The three-year-old bay colt already took the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes over the last five weeks. Now he’ll stare down the much longer 1 1/2-mile Belmont with seven other contenders hoping to keep him from glory.
Affirmed’s blazing runs in 1978 were the last time anyone’s seen a Triple Crown, with 13 others claiming the first two legs since then, only to falter at the grueling Belmont.
Those are the key points to keep in mind during the race, but over the last 146 years, the final jewel of the Triple Crown has developed a rich history with lots of good tidbits.
Here are 10 quick facts to know before the big race.
1) Post Draws Matter
American Pharoah runs out of the No. 5 post at the Belmont, and 13 others have won from that spot. But most Belmont victories have started from the No 1. post. 23 total.
2) $100 Million Stud
If he manages to pull off the Triple Crown, horse racing experts believe American Pharoah could be worth $100 million as a stud.
3) Place Your Bets
Last year, when California Chrome nearly completed the Triple Crown, the Belmont set a record with $150.2 million in bets throughout the day. This year, American Pharoah’s a bigger favorite, and a new record could be born. Though it could be difficult with the New York Racing Association capping the number of spectators at 90,000 this year.
4) Fourth Time’s the Charm?
Trainer Bob Baffert, 62, is now in the midst of his fourth potential Triple Crown. His last attempt was in 2002 with War Emblem. Every time, he has used jockey Victor Espinoza.
5) Quick Work
Zayat Stables, owners of American Pharoah and operated by Ahmed Zayat, claims 13 horses with Grade 1 stakes victories, after opening only 10 years ago. American Pharoah is the company’s first Triple Crown threat.
6) Flying Around The Track
The fastest time is Secretariat at 2:24 in 1973. Easy Goer (1989) is second at 2:26 and Point Given (2001) is third at 2:26 2/5.
7) Change of Direction
The races used to be run clockwise, as they do in England. In 1921, the race switched to run counterclockwise.
8) Last Triple Threat
In 2014, California Chrome entered a field of 11 at betting odds of 4/5 to start the morning. California Chrome finished tied for fourth, with Tonalist (17/2) winning the race on a fast track.
9) Start Of A New Triple Crop?
There have been 11 Triple Crown winners, and they are often clustered together. The first winner was in 1919 with Sir Barton. Eleven years later it was Gallant Fox (1930), in a cluster with Omaha (1935). and War Admiral (1937). Later, another cluster formed with Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948). The last cluster came in the 1970s, with Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
10) Big Money
American Pharoah already has $3.7 million in career winnings. California Chrome currently has $6.3 million in career earnings.