NEW YORK (AP) — The number of horse racing's Triple Crown winners has finally reached one dozen, 37 years after Affirmed became the 11th.
American Pharoah has ended the sport's Triple Crown drought with a convincing performance in the Belmont Stakes, finishing 5 ½ lengths ahead of Frosted. American Pharoah was slow to get out of the gate, yet managed to take the lead without ever relinquishing it to one of the other seven horses. The winner covered the 1 ½ miles in 2:26.65 to end the longest stretch without a Triple Crown champion in history.
Keen Ice finished third.
Thirteen other horses since Affirmed in 1978 had won the Derby and Preakness without capturing the Belmont.
American Pharoah won the Derby by one length on May 2 and then romped to a seven-length victory in the rainy Preakness two weeks later.
The outcome also ends droughts for jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert. Espinoza had been aboard two other horses that won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, only to come away with a loss at Belmont Park. Baffert finally won on his record fourth Triple try, having lost in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
Egyptian-born owner Ahmed Zayat bred the colt and put him up for sale before buying him back for $300,000, a virtual bargain for a Triple Crown horse on a seven-race winning streak.