“The crowd was just thundering,”
June 7, 2015 9:08 AM   Subscribe

American Pharoah Wins Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown [New York Times]
American Pharoah is the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to win three races on different tracks at varying distances over a five-week span. He won the Belmont Stakes by five and a half lengths, the Derby by one length on May 2 and then romped to a seven-length victory in the rainy Preakness two weeks later before demolishing his rivals Saturday. [via: CBC]
posted by Fizz (63 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 


From nevercalm's linked New York Times piece:
Present it so that the horse understands. Strike it in rhythm with the horse’s stride, but only on the shoulders or the hindquarters. Resist its use if the horse is out of the race, or has reached its maximum placing, or is not responding. Excessive or brutal use is prohibited. So states Section 4035.9 of the New York State Gaming Commission’s rules of racing, which addresses the riding crop — the term preferred by a horse racing industry forever grappling with the perception of a standard piece of equipment better known as the whip.
posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on June 7, 2015


So, if used properly, the crop acts as a guide, not as a implement of fear.

Interesting race. Thanks for posting this.
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


To the victor goes the stud.
To the rest, glue.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Poor bastard.
posted by pompomtom at 10:06 AM on June 7, 2015


Millior Dollar Horse Cum
posted by ReeMonster at 10:09 AM on June 7, 2015


"You win the Super Bowl, you get a ring. You win the Triple Crown, you spend the rest of your life on a stud farm. I chose the wrong sport as a kid."

"Yeah, but if you break your leg in the Super Bowl, you retire to the commentator's booth and craft services. You break your leg in the Triple Crown..."

"Good point."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:16 AM on June 7, 2015 [25 favorites]


As someone who has owned and ridden horses for most of my life, I have a lot of ethical concerns about thoroughbred horse racing (use of a crop being the least of them), but despite myself, there's always a part of me that can't help but get wrapped up in the thrill of watching these races. The first Triple Crown bid I watched was in 1997, when Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, only to be defeated in the Belmont. After so many attempts and near misses, I was beginning to think I would never live to see a single triple crown victory.

I'm not gonna lie, I was crying by the time American Pharoah crossed the finish line yesterday. If any trainer was going to do it, I'm glad Bob Baffert (who previously trained Silver Charm, and several other "close call" horses) finally got it done.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:16 AM on June 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


"What's with the tube?"

-Stallion
posted by clavdivs at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My 14-year-old daughter and I watched the race together yesterday. When Affirmed won in 1978, I was the same age she is now.
posted by briank at 10:30 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Last night was our monthly Call of Cthulhu RPG night.
Amazingly enough, we took a break from losing sanity and trying to find out what happened to the ill fated Carlyle Expedition to watch a few minutes of horse racing and see history being made.
Who would have thunk it?
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:31 AM on June 7, 2015


I listened to it on the radio at a bar near my place, and won a bottle of Buffalo Trace for a raffle ticket with American Pharaoh's name on it. Listening to horse racing on the radio is weird experience, but oddly compelling - the announcers are great, and they do an amazing job of painting a word picture of such a visceral, visual sport.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was amazed at the coverage, which started at something like 3:30PM in the afternoon. It was over three hours of pregame for a two minute event.

If the Super Bowl had a similar ratio, I think the pregame coverage would start in October.
posted by eriko at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not much in the way of 'rivals', really. What surprised me most about yesterday was the absence of dirty trickery from Espinoza's fellow jockeys. Previous 'almosts' in the TC involved such ugly spectacles as riders going to the whip on the backstretch to encourage their no-hoper to force the TC-hopeful to run out of gas early. Maybe the racing collective consciousness somehow decided to put personal jealousy aside and let the best horse win. And this year, American Pharaoh has been the best horse by miles.
posted by grounded at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm old enough to have watched Slew, rooted for Alydar (can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em?), and have followed most of the Triple Crown races since, and as much as I've been cheering for others to have swept their series, for whatever reason, I just couldn't work up my usual level of enthusiasm for the run this year.

Somehow all of the connections of Pharoah just don't sit right with me. I know Baffert is considered the ultimate super trainer, but he just rubs me the wrong way, both professionally (most recently I thought his hand in the sale of Mr. Z was pretty uncool) and personally (I don't ever want to hear about or see his youngest son again). While the Zayat family seems to say and do all of the right things on the surface, something just feels off to me (maybe it's that now dismissed gambling debt lawsuit, and maybe it's just NBC making such a big deal about junior studying for his MBA). As for Espinoza, he really, really annoyed me with his multiple shout-outs to that bloody energy drink sponsor (who I refuse to name) after the race. I'm sorry but waving a can of liquid caffeine and sugar when somebody is trying to present the Belmont and Triple Crown trophies is just the height of classlessness. I don't care how much they're paying you, it's just not done (or it just shouldn't be done).

Also what was with that stupid Burger King mascot in the box with Baffert (I think it was Baffert, maybe it was one of the other connections)? I didn't watch most of the coverage as NBC really makes my blood boil with how stupid it is--I just flipped it on during commercial breaks from Spruce Meadows, and then just turned it on in time for the saddling. So just to feed my curiosity, did those energy drink girls get any coverage? Reading about the sponsorship deal, it sounded as if they were supposed to be front and centre.

Right now I'm more interested in California Chrome racing in England, and of course the Canadian Triple Crown races assuming we get any sort of coverage of them this year (another don't get me started topic).
posted by sardonyx at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Worthwhile to goggle the owners name, his background, many lawsuits, and how the horse'S
Name got mispelled
posted by Postroad at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2015


I wouldn't diminish Pharoah's dominance by wondering if his victory is a result of the other jockey's "allowing" him to win. This horse is a beauty! Espinoza didn't whip him once in the Preakness, as far as I can tell. Simply rode him like lightning. Bet he still had gas in the tank too!
posted by ReeMonster at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


NY1 had an interview clip with the jockey and before the explanatory headline appeared at the bottom of the screen I thought he was a little kid who won a spelling bee or student of the week or something.

he is a tiny little elf man
posted by poffin boffin at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


you don't with a spelling be with "pharoah"
posted by idiopath at 11:02 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


he is a tiny little elf man

For women, it's usually cruel peers that make us vomit and purge to lose weight; for men, it's usually sports.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:07 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]




The best part of this, apart from the race itself, was seeing the jockey and the owner's son pimping Monster Energy Drinks.

1) The jockey literally brought up Monster to the reporter while he was still on the track after winning
2) Apart from the obnoxious hat, the son, a student at Stern, had a specially-made blazer with a Monster logo sewn into it
3) The jockey drank a Monster in front of the trophy and kept acting like he was going to pour it in

I bet they get paid like $50k for each of these.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:19 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> the announcers are great, and they do an amazing job of painting a word picture of such a visceral, visual sport.

But you still can't lateral a horse.
posted by jfuller at 11:25 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


American Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza is donating all of his Belmont Stakes winnings to cancer research.

I find this wonderfully apropos after I watched the race while volunteering at a Relay For Life.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:28 AM on June 7, 2015


Oh, Smarty Jones.
posted by maxwelton at 11:31 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If the Super Bowl had a similar ratio, I think the pregame coverage would start in October.

It does.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:36 AM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lasix: the drug debate which is bleeding US horse racing dry
Helwan euthanized after breakdown at Belmont Park

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people." W.C. Fields
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:44 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


FEETLEBAUM...
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:46 AM on June 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


We used to live down the street from Churchill Downs when I was in grad school. Today, in Qatar, I made the kids watch the race on youtube. It was stunning, and I was whooping like a drunken, sunburned college student in the infield on derby day. A great moment in history.
posted by mecran01 at 11:57 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the Super Bowl had a similar ratio, I think the pregame coverage would start in October.

Oh, it does, it does!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:00 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


He ran the Belmont Stakes faster than any other horse ever has, with the exception of Secretariat.

Which is incredible, but is tempered somewhat by the realization that if he had been running against 1973 Secretariat, American Pharoah still would have lost by over 20 lengths.
posted by 256 at 12:22 PM on June 7, 2015 [30 favorites]


Wait so, race horses under this sort of effort start bleeding through their lungs, and out their noses? So they give them drugs and that may have had a recent correlation with them dying on the track?

Dude, this sport is fucked. You race the course, ya smart monkeys.
posted by alex_skazat at 12:23 PM on June 7, 2015


I wouldn't diminish Pharoah's dominance by wondering if his victory is a result of the other jockey's "allowing" him to win

I 100% agree with this. If you can ignore all the background noise about sponsorships, ethics, personal dislikes,* etc, then what you're left with is a powerful performance by a very talented horse. I couldn't help but feel skeptical leading up to the Belmont because I've witnessed so many "almosts," but I definitely felt like we had a much better chance this year than we did last year with California Chrome, who was a beautiful horse but I don't think he was of the same caliber as American Pharaoh.

Still, I wouldn't let myself get my hopes up until the race actually started, but once it did, it was so clear that American Pharoah had the other horses beat. He just kept getting better and better as the race went on. I was nearly hyperventilating because I just couldn't believe that I was watching this finally happen.

I'm very conflicted about this, of course. As a young kid, I really wanted to become a jockey, and I still love riding horses more than anything, but as I grew up, I realized I could never feel okay participating in this sport, and I know that by all rights it should be shut down to protect the horses (and jockeys), but none of that could take away from how thrilling it was on an emotional level to watch American Pharoah trounce the rest of the field yesterday. He is certainly a great horse.

*I'm not saying we necessarily should ignore that stuff, fwiw.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I grew up with horses and my dad worked at a race track for a few years. I lost my appetite for horse racing after the injury and death of Barbaro. There have always been ugly aspects to the sport, but that was the last straw for me. But I watched the Triple Crown races this year. This horse is so amazing. He looks like he knows what he is doing and that he was born to do it. Watching him run even on TV is incredible.
posted by BibiRose at 12:32 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"What's with the tube?"

-Stallion


Not with racing Thoroughbreds.
posted by biscotti at 12:35 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


American Pharoah? From Ugly Betty? Good for her!
posted by Sys Rq at 12:42 PM on June 7, 2015


Not quite, 256.

Pharoah's time was 2:26.65.

Here are the top ten fastest finishes (excluding the 2015 race):

1. 1973 Secretariat* 2:24.00 Ron Turcotte
2. 1989 Easy Goer 2:26.00 Pat Day
3. 1992 A.P. Indy 2:26.13 Ed Delahoussaye
4. 1988 Risen Star 2:26.40 Ed Delahoussaye
5. 1957 Gallant Man 2:26.60 Bill Shoemaker
6. 2001 Point Given 2:26.80 Gary Stevens
6. 1994 Tabasco Cat 2:26.80 Pat Day
6. 1978 Affirmed* 2:26.80 Steve Cauthen
9. 1985 Creme Fraiche 2:27.00 Eddie Maple
10. 1990 Go And Go 2:27.20 Michael Kinane
10. 1984 Swale 2:27.20 Laffit Pincay, Jr.
10. 1968 Stage Door Johnny 2:27.20 Heliodoro Gustines Green
posted by sardonyx at 12:43 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although, it's also worth noting that American Pharoah has Secretariat's blood running through his veins.

It's so hard for me to resist correcting the spelling of American Pharoah's name...
posted by 256 at 12:44 PM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


He ran the Belmont Stakes faster than any other horse ever has, with the exception of Secretariat.

I think it might have been that of the triple crown winners, his Belmont Stakes was the second fastest, with only Secretariat beating him out, but I don't have a citation* on hand to back that up.

*Intentional horse pun. Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:45 PM on June 7, 2015


sardonyx:

Ah, you're right. I was misremembering the statistic. American Pharoah's time at Belmont was the second fastest for a Triple Crown winner.
posted by 256 at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2015


Failed to preview. I see that sardonyx has the data to back up what I thought might be the case.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:47 PM on June 7, 2015


American Pharoah's offspring will be called Nothing to Loose and Definately Maybe.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:00 PM on June 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't diminish Pharoah's dominance by wondering if his victory is a result of the other jockey's "allowing" him to win.

Well, that's not what I did or said in my original comment. What I noted was the absence of jockey infighting that marred previous Belmonts in which there might have been a TC winner. I hated seeing that -- trying to run or squeeze someone into the ground for the sake of making them (and you) lose is hardly the same thing as the spirit of wanting to win, and also a rather questionable tactic in a highly-regulated betting sport.

FWIW, I never thought AP would be challenged in any way in these races this year, at least not by the quality of his competition (some of whom I've seen in work at my local track).

I'll add to the discussion that there have been some oddities in the TC quest over the drought years. Spectacular Bid, of course, who ranks up with the very best in American racing. Point Given, the best of his year who ran the worst race of his life in the Kentucky Derby. Then there was the strange case of Holy Bull, who ran a somnambulant Kentucky Derby, that may have involved foul play.
posted by grounded at 1:11 PM on June 7, 2015


I'm not in to horse racing, but I really loved watching this year's muddy Preakness. It was so cool to see the footprints echoing the horses on the track. I just watched the Belmont and even with the extra historic factor it wasn't half as fun to watch.
posted by maryr at 1:16 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like the name American Pharoh has the potential to feed into some Tea Party conspiracy narrative.
posted by tunewell at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


6. 2001 Point Given 2:26.80 Gary Stevens

Incidentally, I really think Point Given was the most disappointing and most deserving "almost" in the years that I've been following this stuff. Granted, he ran fifth in the Derby, but he went on to win the Preakness, and then the Belmont in very convincing fashion.

In the retrospect, the Derby seems like a very unfortunate fluke. It's the only race where he came in out of the money in his career. As a two year old, he came in first or second in all of his races. Then, as a three year old, he won 6 of his 7 starts, with his only loss being the aforementioned Derby. He followed up his convincing Belmont win with victory in the Haskell and the Travers. Unfortunately, a tendon strain discovered right after the Travers led to his retirement, but if they had kept him in the game, I think we would have seen a lot more really great performances from him.

Granted, other horses came closer to winning the Triple Crown in the literal sense, but Point Given was a really great horse who just had an off day in the Derby. I've re-watched his win in the Belmont several times, and every time I see it I think to myself, that should have been a Triple Crown year. Clearly, I'm not the only one who shares this opinion. However, I'm betting the win yesterday probably takes some of the sting away for Baffert.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:26 PM on June 7, 2015


American Pharaoh, the horse and not the politician, raced to a Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont States on Saturday, two days after the horse’s non-Jewish jockey visited the grave of the Rebbe of Lubavitch.
---Jockey Victor Espinoza, not to be confused with the early 18th century heretic Baruch Spinoza, said he visited the Rebbe’s grave on the advice of a Jewish friend.
---American Pharaoh’s owner is Ahmed (Ephraim) Zayat, an Orthodox Jew from Teaneck, New Jersey and who is considered one of the most flamboyant of horse race owners. As at the Preakness and other races, Zayat watched the Belmont Stakes without violating the Sabbath.
posted by Postroad at 1:30 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which is incredible, but is tempered somewhat by the realization that if he had been running against 1973 Secretariat, American Pharoah still would have lost by over 20 lengths.

Nothing could catch Secretariat on that day in 1973. His performance in that race is arguably the most iconic moment in U.S. thoroughbred horse racing, and for my money, has to be one of the greatest performances in any sport. Between his record setting time and his 31 length lead, I get literal chills every time I watch it. If I had a time machine, one of the first things I would do is go back in time so that I could be there in person to witness that race. Hell, I would give anything to switch places with his jockey Ron Turcotte to know what it feels like to ride a horse like that.

Incidentally, it's worth watching that youtube video with the sound on, because the announcer's narration of the race is pretty iconic in and of itself. A tremendous machine, indeed.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:40 PM on June 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Of course, that Belmont record isn't the only record Secretariat holds. He was the first horse to win the Derby in under two minute, in a record time that still stands today, although in 2001, Monarchos managed to win in under two minutes for the first time since Secretariat. (Monarchos won the same year that Point Given won the Preakness and Belmont.) Although it took some time to get conflicting reports sorted out, Secretariat was retroactively awarded the record time in the Preakness as well.

His performance in the Derby and the Preakness are both well worth watching. In particular, there's this really amazing moment where Secretariat makes his move in the Preakness, and the way he breezes past the other horses, it's almost as if the rest of the field is standing still.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:57 PM on June 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


6. 1978 Affirmed* 2:26.80 Steve Cauthen

Steve Cauthen made an album, too. I've scoured the online world and sadly have been unable to fing mp3s.:(
posted by jonmc at 2:16 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was in high school when that big red horse/rocket kicked ass in the Belmont so while it's nice to see someone finally win that Triple Crown, it's comforting to know that Secretariat would still whip the field.
posted by Ber at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2015


tunewell, it's no doubt a sign that Obama is Pharaoh. (That is not the only flavor of this belief, by the way. You could also go looking for evidence that he's a cloned "Barackhenaten." That way lies madness.)
posted by Countess Elena at 2:32 PM on June 7, 2015


Clavdivs, the rules of the sport don't permit that. Mares have to be impregnanted the old fashioned way.

Well, kind of. The mare is in a stall in the stable and one of her legs is tied to the wall so that she can't kick the stallion.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:09 PM on June 7, 2015


I hit the Superfecta.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:41 PM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Heh. Me too. I kept saying "...if they'd only come in in a different order it'd be $2800 instead of $28!"
But I say that a lot, so nobody listens.
posted by Floydd at 7:07 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The rules of the sport don't permit that. Mares have to be impregnanted the old fashioned way.

Well, kind of. The mare is in a..."

Nuh huh. I mentioned a tube, nothing about impregnation or any such non-sense. A TUBE. Wouldn't seeing a tube, after being sent to stud, scare you?
posted by clavdivs at 7:52 PM on June 7, 2015


No but the fucking tied legs is a pretty stunning visual.
posted by maryr at 8:28 PM on June 7, 2015


It's pretty incredible that the winning times are as close as that. If we bred humans for speed, wouldn't you start to get ones that were much faster than the rest of us?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:32 PM on June 7, 2015


So how's the horse's name pronounced? Do people generally say Pharaoh or Pharoah?
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:25 AM on June 8, 2015


Steve Cauthen made an album, too. I've scoured the online world and sadly have been unable to fing mp3s.:(

EbayEbayEbayEbay is your friend!
posted by JanetLand at 7:10 AM on June 8, 2015


We've been breeding horses for speed for a long time. Plus the competition restricts the number of offspring from a particular horse.
posted by Mitheral at 12:13 PM on June 8, 2015


I went back and watched all of Secretariat's Triple Crown races on You Tube again, each one right after watching American Pharaoh's. (Which were all beautiful races too.) I was still in my teens and horse crazy when Secretariat did it, and thought perhaps I misremembered how completely thrilling, dazzling, awe inspiring and almost otherworldly it seemed -- seeing this spectacularly beautiful, enormous horse with rocket fuel in his veins. But no, the blurry footage confirms he really was out of this world.

It is hard to believe Secretariat is ranked second among 20th century horses, behind Man o' War. I'd give a lot to see what Man o' War looked like running the two races of the Triple Crown in which he competed. But I think there's an argument (mute the music, tho) Secretariat was actually the best of them all.
posted by bearwife at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2015


Thanks for posting that video, bearwife. I've never seen footage of Man O' War before. Just some of the iconic photos and illustrations.
posted by sardonyx at 2:03 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older We bailed you out, and now you want what!?!   |   Miles Kimball: Secular Humanism and Universalist... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments