American Pharoah won the Triple Crown on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, something no horse has done in 37 years.
Pharoah defeated second-place Frosted and third-place Keen Ice. He now enters the pantheon as the 12th Triple Crown winner, joining Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
“It’s just an amazing thing,” jockey Victor Espinoza told NBC. “It’s just unbelievable how things worked out… He’s just an amazing horse.”
American Pharoah broke from the No. 5 gate, leading the pack and pulling away in the stretch for the victory. He finished in 2:26.65.
Espinoza said he realized he was going to win the race at the first turn.
“You don’t even feel him when he goes that fast,” he said.
Riding off a six-race win streak including both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, American Pharoah was undefeated coming into Belmont. The three-year-old thoroughbred trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Espinoza started from a favorable position at the number five gate, and was the pick to win at 3-5 odds.
“I’m very emotional,” said Baffert, 62, right after the big win. “I’m thinking about my parents, I wish they were alive to see this. I was hoping it would happen. I didn’t know how I would feel . Now I know.”
Now that Pharaoh has won the Triple Crown, his value could skyrocket to as much as $100 million over the next few years.
Pharoah has already won millions after winning top-tier races, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but his real moneymaking potential will come from his stud fee to breed. A proven track record can spike a male racehorse’s stud fees, especially if their offspring become winners as well.
Affirmed was the last horse to take the Triple Crown in 1978, winning by a nose to become the 11th Triple Crown winner. Since then, 13 horses have come close, either losing or failing to reach Belmont Stakes after winning the Derby and Preakness.
American Pharoah Hall of Fame trainer Baffert and jockey Espinoza have come close several times. This was Baffert’s fourth attempt at a Triple Crown, while Espinoza has tried twice before, losing last year with California Chrome.
Two Baffert-trained horses — Real Quiet (1998) and Silver Charm (1997) — had leads in the Belmont Stakes but lost.
American Pharoah struggled early in the Kentucky Derby, but managed to win in the end.
Watch American Pharoah win the Triple Crown here.