Zayat Stables’ homebred superstar American Pharoah made history on Saturday, winning the Belmont S. (G1) to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner. The 5 ½-length victory was the third-largest Triple Crown winning margin.
Pioneerof the Nile, who Zayat also campaigned to a runner-up finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1), has developed into the most promising young sire of his generation.
After topping the Second-Crop sire list in 2014 with over $4 million in progeny earnings, Pioneerof the Nile is by far and away the leading Third Crop sire this year, and is in the top five on the 2015 General Sire list.
Maybe a tad slow at the break, American Pharoah nevertheless had the lead less than 100 yards into the race, and never relinquished it at any point despite several challengers making a run at him during the 1 ½-mile marathon.
Materiality was closest early after a half-mile in :48.83, with Keen Ice surprisingly close down the backstretch. On the final turn, Mubtaahij and Frosted, along the rail, tried to make the race competitive, but Victor Espinoza, who gave American Pharoah a perfect ride, had plenty of horse for the grueling final quarter-mile. With American Pharoah widening in the final margin, he crossed the wire to the thunderous roar of the Belmont throng witnessing the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
“We knew and were hoping we had the horse,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “Once Victor got him in that beautiful mode, the way he went over the ground, I was very happy. I was looking for someone to come, because I’ve been here before, but at the 1/8th pole, I knew he had it, and I just took in the crowd, the announcer, everything.”
American Pharoah has now won seven of eight starts, all in stakes: Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), Belmont S. (G1), Arkansas Derby (G1), FrontRunner S. (G1), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Rebel S. (G2). He has earned $4,530,300.