American Pharoah – Next Triple Crown Winner?
It has been 47 years since a horse won the triple crown. Yet again, we have a horse that has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. (Love those Mint Juleps) The Kentucky Derby was exciting with the three horses expected to be in the top three finishing one, two, three and it being a tight race the whole way. But then there was the Preakness. It was a beautiful day and then the heavens opened and the track became a soggy mess and it was still raining at start time. American Pharoah had the number one post position and with all the mud, didn’t want to get boxed in and eat mud the whole way. He bolted out into the lead and stayed there the entire way, finishing an impressive 7 lengths in the lead in all that muck. The jockey Victor Espinoza was spotless during his post race interviews, not a trace of mud.
Why no Triple Crown Winners?
There are many theories. Some people feel the horses are pampered too much and don’t build up the muscles and stamina while they are two year olds. American Pharoah ran 3 times as a two year old and most other horses these days don’t race much more. Before starting the Triple Crown attempt, Affirmed had started races seven different times with only one or two weeks rest. Before Secretariat went for the three Triple Crown races he had raced three times in five weeks two different times plus he ran four races in under six weeks.
Also, horses have gotten so expensive that people want a fast payback so the theory says that horses are bred more as sprinters now and less for distance. And because they don’t run as much as two year olds, they don’t have the conditioning for the longer Belmont.
You also have horses that race in the Derby, sit out the Preakness and then race in the Belmont, so they are much fresher. You even have horses who only race in the Belmont. So it isn’t exactly a level playing field.
Not much talked about, but drugs could also be a factor. Many medications such as Lasix are now commonly given to the horses. Lasix is a diuretic that is given to control bleeding. But the drug has side effects. Many old timer trainers feel that it is affecting the durability of horses and should be banned.
And sometimes, shit happens. Spectacular Bid is considered the best horse to have not won the Triple Crown. Just before the race he stepped on a pin that went into his hoof. He had a large lead but was caught. Some people don’t think it was the pin but a poor ride by his jockey, who took him out too fast and hard in the beginning of the race. Then there was Big Brown who also looked promising. He cracked his hoof while winning the Preakness. During the Belmont his jockey pulled him up saying he “had no horse left”. You think that wasn’t second guessed.
And What About American Pharoah?
American Pharoah was the top two year old and the last 4 Triple Crown winners were also as well as two earlier Triple Crown winners. None of the other horses going for the Triple Crown over the last 47 years except Spectular Bid had that distinction. Also, he won the first two races in entirely different conditions. One reason American Pharoah raced so little as a two year old is that he injured his leg in one race and was recovering. Some people think the may just be peaking now. If horses are stressed or worn out, they lose weight. That is why Firing Line was pulled from the Belmont after doing well in the Derby and Preakness. American Pharoah has been in good spirits, eating well, hasn’t lost weight and in his last workout had really fast times. We may have a winner here.