American Pharoah secured the first Triple Crown victory in 37 years outrunning the competition by 5 1/2 lengths in the 147th Belmont Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The 3-year-old bay colt, along with trainer Bob Baffert and owner Zayat Stables, became the 12th Triple Crown winner in history. He's the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, after 13 other contenders tried and failed on the punishing 1 1/2-mile course.
Leading wire-to-wire, jockey Victor Espinoza, 43, the oldest jockey to win, shook off a poor start out of the gate to push American Pharoah to the top of the pack at the first turn, and the pair never looked back for a 5 1/2-length victory, the third-best in history.
“He broke a little step slow, and after two jumps I was right in the lead. I’m telling you had the best feeling ever when he crossed,” Espinoza told NBC right after the race. “The way he travels the way he stretches the way he hits the ground, you feel like you’re going in slow motion.”
Frosted, considered American Pharoah's biggest threat, came in second followed by Keen Ice in third.
American Pharoah was the favorite at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and took both down, prior to entering the Belmont as a 3/5 favorite. The line moved as high as 1/2 throughout the day’s betting, but closed at 3/5.
The payouts for American Pharoah were $3.50, $2.80 and $2.50.
For the 13 before him, the Belmont’s grueling extra quarter-mile seemed impossible on only three weeks rest after the Preakness. Last year’s Triple Crown threat, California Chrome, finished tied for fourth place against a field that didn’t run both or even one of the other two major stakes.
But American Pharoah showed no signs of fatigue while he fought off Materiality and Mubtaajihi at the first turn and the backstretch. But at the final turn, Frosted, known for his close out speed late in races, made his move.
That's when American Pharoah opened up his lead, at a point when so many others have floundered.
"This is for you. This for the sport!" owner Ahmed Zayat yelled to the crowd after the race.
Here's the video: