- PHAROAH REIGNS SUPREME AFTER BELMONT WIN
- ESPINOZA ON TODAY SHOW AND FALLON MONDAY
- BAFFERT, ESPINOZA TO ‘GIVE BACK’ IN BIG ‘BELMONT WAY’
- AMERICAN PHAROAH ‘ON FIRE’ VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
- NBC’S OVERNIGHT BELMONT RATINGS TREMENDOUS
- ART SHERMAN WINNER OF TOC’S SERVICE AWARD
AMERICAN PHAROAH SWEEPS TRIPLE CROWN
Three-fifty-two p.m. Pacific Time, June 6, 2015: madness on the mezzanine at
Santa Anita and bedlam at Belmont Park.
American Pharoah was on his way to racing history.
The bay colt long on talent and short of tail was in a familiar spot: on the lead, this time in the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes, daunting final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, which hadn’t been mastered since 1978 when Affirmed solved racing’s most puzzling riddle.
In just under two minutes and 27 seconds–2:26.65 to be exact–American Pharoah would go on to win by 5 ½ lengths under an unwaveringly confident ride by his regular pilot, Victor Espinoza.
“Go, Victor! He did it, he did it!” was overheard above the din on the mezzanine. At Belmont Park, the post-race fanfare surpassed that of Cecil B. deMille’s epic film extravaganza “Cleopatra,” bordering on decadent.
Hours after the race, on the streets of staid, old money Arcadia, horns were honking and folks were celebrating the fulfillment of a long-awaited accomplishment, this by a horse, trainer, Bob Baffert, and jockey, Victor Espinoza, who call Santa Anita home.
Ron McAnally has seen it all. As Santa Anita’s oldest active trainer at age 82, the Hall of
Famer saw first-hand the last five Triple Crown winners, starting with Citation in 1948 through American Pharoah on Saturday, with Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978) tossed in for good measure.
So how does American Pharoah stack up on that storied list?
“I saw Citation at Garden State Park in 1948,” said McAnally, who trained many champions, the most celebrated being two-time Horse of the Year John Henry. “I was a groom back then and everyone was talking about Citation. I went to the head of the stretch one day and saw this horse passing the finish line while the others were turning for home. Citation was one of the greatest horses who ever lived.
“But I’ve always thought American Pharoah could win the Triple Crown, although after he won the (Kentucky) Derby (by only a length, his shortest margin of victory), I thought they might have a chance to beat him.
“But after winning the Preakness on an off track, which he loves, I was more certain. In the Belmont, there wasn’t much competition for him. It will be interesting to see what he can do after this, if he runs in the Haskell or the Travers and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
That said, American Pharoah has little left to prove on the race track. A deal for his breeding rights has already been finalized, with his retirement planned at the end of this year, and something unforeseen would have to happen for him not to be named Horse of the Year.
The pity is that racing will not see his rhythmic and effortless stride again after 2015.
“They couldn’t insure a horse for as much money as American Pharoah is worth now,” McAnally said. “They’d need 10 insurance companies to cover the premium. That’s why we don’t see those champions too long nowadays.
“We saw John Henry race until he was nine because he was a gelding, and you see some others, and it’s because they aren’t a stallion.
“That’s the reason they retire full horses like American Pharoah. They can’t insure them for that amount of money. But yesterday was great for the game. Racing needs a champion.”
Kent Desormeaux was right in the thick of the action in yesterday’s Belmont. Winner of the 2009 Belmont on Summer Bird, the Hall of Fame jockey rode 17-1 shot Keen Ice to a third-place finish, 7 ½ lengths behind American Pharoah.
“It was definitely historic, it was definitely an emotional event, and I think you could feel
the energy,” said Desormeaux, bright and bushy-tailed back at Santa Anita on a picture-perfect Sunday morning. “I know I felt the energy around the eighth pole when the crowd knew Pharoah was going to get there.
“There was a dramatic roar. When we got to about the eighth pole and we were approaching the wire, the crowd went bananas. On the Richter Scale, it went from a seven to an 11. They went crazy.”
Added Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach, who remains on the scene in New York: “When the horses turned for home, the whole grandstand started to shake. It felt like an earthquake. The roar just got louder and louder. I never experienced anything like it.”
ESPINOZA TO STAY EXTRA WEEK IN BIG APPLE DUE TO MEDIA COMMITTMENTS
Due mainly to “A-List” national media commitments, Espinoza will not resume riding at Santa Anita until next Sunday, according to Beach.
“He threw out the ceremonial first pitch today at Yankee Stadium and Monday he’ll be on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer and tomorrow night on the Jimmy Fallon show,” said Beach.
Espinoza will venture south to ride Cat Burglar for Baffert in the Grade I Stephen Foster next Saturday at Churchill Downs before coming back to Southern California.
Churchill Downs will put American Pharoah on parade Saturday so fans can see America’s newest star, American Pharoah, a horse that was born to run like Pavarotti was born to sing.
American Pharoah and his connections will also be honored in a ceremony at Churchill next Saturday that will likely include “Pharoah” being paraded between races. Racing’s newest Triple Crown winner will join stablemates Bayern, Cat Burglar and Hoppertunity at Churchill and will return to Santa Anita shortly after the Stephen Foster.
BAFFERT, ESPINOZA GUSH WITH GENEROSITY FOLLOWING TRIPLE CROWN WIN
In what must rank as one of racing’s most significant acts of generosity, Bob and Jill Baffert, along with Victor Espinoza, have announced they will be donating generous sums following their Triple Crown triumph to several charities.
Baffert and wife will be donating $50,000 each to the following charities: The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), the California Retirement Aftercare Account (CARMA), the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), and Old Friends Farm in Kentucky.
Espinoza, who has actively supported City of Hope for several years, will donate his entire Belmont Stakes purse earnings, $80,000, to the nationally renowned cancer research and treatment facility in nearby Duarte.
‘PHAROAH’ & TRIPLE CROWN HOT TOPICS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Saturday’s Triple Crown and American Pharoah were the number three most searched topics on Google yesterday WORLDWIDE. The hashtag #American Pharoah was used 46,800 times immediately following the race, which resulted in it becoming a nationally trending topic by the end of the day.
NBC’S OVERNIGHT BELMONT RATINGS STRONG
According to a press release issued by NBC, the network’s race-portion ratings, from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m., PT, registered a 12.3/27 metered market rating–the third best overnight for a Belmont Stakes on record. (People Meter history dates to 1988).
NBC has now posted back-to-back 12+ overnight ratings for the Belmont Stakes, marking the first time in People Meter history that successive Belmont’s have topped a 12 overnight.
Furthermore, yesterday’s Belmont Stakes posted the highest metered market rating for a Saturday afternoon sporting event since NBC’s telecast of the Ravens-Patriots AFC Divisional Playoff on Jan. 10, 2015 (20.9).
ART SHERMAN TO RECEIVE TOC INDUSTRY AWARD
Trainer Art Sherman has been selected by the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) to receive the 2014 Ed Friendly Industry Service Award. The award is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions and service in the California Thoroughbred racing industry.
Last year at 77 Sherman became the oldest trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner with favored California Chrome. Two weeks later, they won the Preakness Stakes en route to California Chrome being named 2014 champion Three-Year-Old and Horse of the Year.
For more than 60 years, Sherman has been an integral part of California racing, from stable hand to exercise rider to jockey to trainer. He also served on the TOC Board of Directors from 2002 to 2006.
California racing greatly benefited from the excitement surrounding California
Chrome’s three-year-old campaign, and even amidst controversy Sherman remained a wonderful ambassador for this sport.
“We are very pleased to honor Art with this award,” said TOC Chairman Mike Pegram. “His integrity, humility and dedication to hard work have been inspirational and a source of pride for all of us.”
Sherman will be recognized at TOC’s Southern California annual meeting at Del Mar on Saturday, Aug. 15.
TOC is the official organization serving new, veteran and future Thoroughbred owners in the state. It represents, advances, and protects owners’ interests and rights in legislative, administrative and business matters. www.toconline.com.
FINISH LINES: Retired Hall of Fame great Eddie Delahoussaye, who won the 1988 Belmont with Risen Star and the Kentucky Derby back-to-back in 1982 and 1983 on Gato Del Sol and Sunny’s Halo, will be Doug McIntyre‘s guest Monday morning at 6:15 a.m. on KABC Radio, 790 AM . . . How big is the Triple Crown? It went mainstream on Friday when Mark Levin, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author, mentioned it and American Pharoah‘s pursuit of same on his three-hour show that can be heard in the Los Angeles area on 870 AM, The Patriot. “I’m rooting for American Pharoah,” said Levin, adding that “Secretariat was my favorite horse.” . . . On the CBS Sports website Saturday morning, it was the top headline: “Belmont: Pharoah runs for TC, 6:50 ET post.” . . .Add Triple Crown–The Belmont Stakes was displayed prominently at MLB stadiums nationwide and the Angels’ Mike Trout was shown on ESPN’s SportsCenter signaling TOUCHDOWN in the Angels’ Yankee Stadium clubhouse as “Pharoah” steamed to victory…American Stakes winner Bal a Bali, prepping for next Saturday’s Grade I Shoemaker Mile on turf, worked four furlongs on the main track Sunday in a bullet 46.60 for Richard Mandella. Flavien Prat has the mount . . . Jerry Hollendorfer reports Cast In Silver, a half-sister to Belmont Stakes and Met Mile winner Palace Malice, is scheduled to run in next Saturday’s Grade III Adoration Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/16 miles . . . Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, ticketed for the $500,000 Dwyer at Belmont on July 4, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in 1:13 for Keith Desormeaux.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, June 6)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||86||12||9||9||14%||$524,942|