A Long Triple Crown Dry Spell Ended - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


A Long Triple Crown Dry Spell Ended

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© American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. © American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes yesterday, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. A sellout crowd shared the thrill along with our Michelle Miller:

"American Pharoah is finally the one! American Pharoah just won the Triple Crown!"

For racing fans, this victory comes just in time, ending nearly four decades of dashed hopes. Now they can believe again.

American Pharoah took an early lead and never gave it up -- exactly what Justin Zayat had predicted. His family owns American Pharoah.

"The break's crucial," he said. "If he puts those ears up and he's doing it easily, I mean, that's a signature move. And he starts looking around, he's alert, looks like he's having fun there!"

But perhaps not nearly as much fun as jockey Victor Espinoza and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

"He's just a great horse," Baffert said. "It takes a great horse to do it."

They've been chasing this dream, quite literally, for decades. For Baffert it was his fourth attempt.

For Espinoza, who won two of three legs of the Triple Crown twice before (atop War Emblem in 2002, and California Chrome last year), the third time was the charm.

"Just an amazing horse!" Espinoza said after the race.

Watching from the grandstand, superfan Ryan Riboldi was on the tips of his toes the entire race, having followed Pharoah from the Derby to the Preakness, and then yesterday at Belmont.

"He proved that if you are a great horse, you win the Triple Crown," Riboldi said. "If you are good horse, you win two out of three."

Espinoza says he was counting on Pharoah's stamina in the final quarter mile of the Belmont, which has the longest track of the Triple Crown's three races. "Steady, steady all the way around. I had the best feeling ever when he crossed the first turn."

As for the owners of American Pharoah, the win is especially sweet after years of money problems and a lawsuit over alleged unpaid debts. That suit was dismissed on Thursday.

But while American Pharoah may be the newest name on the roster of Triple Crown winners, 1973's winner, Secretariat, still holds the records for the fastest time and biggest margin of victory -- 31 lengths.

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