Sunday, June 7, 2015

American Pharoah joins an elite group of horses

Yesterday, American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, completing a sweep of the Triple Crown. When I was a lad, I got the impression that thoroughbred horses won racing's Triple Crown -- the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont -- routinely. In a great era of racing, I saw Secretariat win all three races in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. They were the 9th, 10th and 11th horses to win all three of those races, all before I graduated from high school. I didn't realize at the time how unusual it is for the same horse to win all three races, which are progressively longer. The Derby is a sprint, the Belmont a long haul, relatively speaking, with the Preakness in the middle, both distance-wise and schedule-wise. Winning all three is quite an accomplishment. A lot of great horses have tried and failed.

Doubt it? Yesterday produced the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. At the Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah pulled away nicely at the end to become a member of a very small, elite group of horses, a winner of the Triple Crown:

I watched it live, and it was quite a sight. Horse racing has declined in popularity over the last couple decades, but maybe this will revive interest. Of course, it is tough to match the mastery and dominance that were embodied in Secretariat:

Only horse in the frame, baby. That guy could run. Maybe the greatest ever.

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