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American Pharoah Ends Triple Crown Drought

2015: American Pharoah: Now, in 2015 it’s American Pharoah's turn to either captivate the racing world with the first Triple Crown win since 1978, or just become another footnote in horse racing history. Lead by veteran jockey Victor Espinosa and trainer Bill Baffert, perhaps the time has finally come for new horse to enter racing lore, and become its 12th Triple Crown winner. The Belmont Stakes will be held on June 6th.

Victor Espinoza celebrates atop American Pharoah after winning the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, 2015 in Elmont, New York. With the win American Pharoah becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

By Marion Algier – Just One More Pet

The Sport of Kings has its day after a 37 year drought.  As with most debates involving sports, there are varying reasons for the absence of a Triple Crown champion over the past 37 years. It has as much to do with bank accounts as bloodlines, yet trying to pinpoint the main reason is as elusive as the achievement itself.

NEW YORK (AP) — By mid-stretch, Bob Baffert said he knew it. American Pharoah was going to win the Triple Crown.

He took his eyes off the horse to soak in the crazed scene of the packed grandstand. Fans jumped up and down, hugged, and tossed drinks in the air.

The race wasn’t even over yet, but the crowd knew it, too. Thirty-seven years of waiting to see one of the rarest feats in sports was almost over.

"The crowd was just thundering and I was just enjoying the crowd and the noise and everything happening," the white-haired trainer said. "What a feeling."

Finally, a Triple Crown winner. And this one was never in doubt.

American Pharoah led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 5 lengths on Saturday, becoming the first horse since 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — one of the sporting world’s rarest feats.

"Wow! Wow!" jockey Victor Espinoza (age 43) said moments after crossing the finish line. "I can only tell you it is just an amazing thing."

The bay colt with the unusually short tail, chewed of by another horse, easily defeated seven rivals in the grueling 1 1/2-mile race, covering the distance in 2:26.65 — sixth-fastest in Belmont history — to end the longest stretch without a Triple Crown champion in history.

"That little horse, he deserved it," said Baffert, who at 62 is the second-oldest trainer of a Triple Crown winner. "He’s the one that did it. We were basically just passengers."

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 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.

Baffert and Espinoza ended their own frustrating histories in the Triple Crown. Baffert finally won on his record fourth Triple try, having lost in 1997, 1998 (by a nose) and in 2002. Espinoza got it done with his record third shot after failing to win in 2002 and last year on California Chrome.

"I was prepared for somebody coming because I’ve been through this so many times," Baffert said.

Nobody did.

Espinoza hustled American Pharoah to the lead leaving the No. 5 post and quickly got him over to the rail. Materiality was on his outside in second, but never applied any serious pressure traveling along the backstretch before falling away on the second turn.

American Pharoah started kicking away heading into the final turn. He opened up on the field as he powered through the 1,097-yard stretch, displaying his fluid, springloaded stride in which he appears to float over the ground.

"It’s just an amazing feeling that you have when you’re 20 yards from the wire," Espinoza said. "And then at the wire I was like, `I cannot believe I did it.’"

American Pharoah ran the final quarter-mile — a stretch that has dashed numerous Triple Crown dreams — in 24.32 seconds, faster than Secretariat’s time of 25 seconds in winning the 1973 Belmont.

"That’s a hell of a horse," said jockey Gary Stevens (age 52), who finished seventh aboard Tale of Verve. "The race was over in the third jump from the gate."

After making his way back to the crowd, Espinoza took American Pharoah nearly the length of the sprawling grandstand so fans could pay their respects to the champion.

As the horses were heading to the starting gate, owner Ahmed Zayat was overflowing with confidence and turned to his wife.

"I told her, `Get ready to be the owner of the 12th Triple Crown winner,’" he said.

Baffert felt equally good, sensing American Pharoah was on the verge of a winning performance when he saddled the horse in the shady paddock.

American Pharoah is the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, but his biggest payday won’t be on a race track.  It will be in stud fees.

Prior to the Belmont, when he just had Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins, it was estimated that he would collect $60,000 to $75,000 per foal, so that kind of stud money means most successful racing careers are short.

California Chrome, who won the Derby and Preakness last year, hasn’t been put out to stud yet since his blood lines aren’t as prestigious. His stud fee is probably in the the neighborhood of $25,000.

So his owners decided to race him for another year. He went to the Dubai World Cup where he placed second, scoring another $2 million in winnings.

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It’s amazing to think that Secretariat’s Belmont time would’ve beaten American Pharoah by 15 lengths.

There Will Never Be Another Secretariat: Thank you, Miss Penny

American Pharoah’s jockey earns peanuts compared to other sports

June 7, 2015 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Run for the Roses

Orb wins 139th running of Kentucky Derby

orb-derby-winner-2013

Fox News: LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Orb was so far behind a wall of horses at the Kentucky Derby that even his jockey wasn’t sure he could master the muddy track and make a run for the roses.

"I was really far back," Joel Rosario said. "I said hopefully he can go faster than that. I was saying maybe I was too far back, but it was so easy."

The bay colt made it look that way Saturday, splashing through the slop to win the Derby by 2 1-2 lengths and giving Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his first victory in the 3-year-old classic.

Long shot Golden Soul was second with Revolutionary third while Normandy Invasion faded to fourth.

Orb, the 5-1 favorite, broke from the No. 16 post and bided his time near the back of the pack early while Palace Malice set a blistering pace in the muck.

Orb was still idling in 16th place a half-mile into the race. On the turn for home, Rosario moved him past 11 horses into striking position in the middle of the track. With a quarter of a mile to go, Orb began picking off the leaders. The only question left was whether he could sustain his momentum on a surface that resembled creamy peanut butter.

"He was very relaxed, it’s exactly what I wanted," Rosario said.

When the field turned for home on the cool, overcast afternoon at Churchill Downs, Normandy Invasion had the lead. But Orb was gearing up and prevailed in the deep stretch, carrying Rosario to his first Derby win.

"Perfect trip. I stayed on the outside I don’t want to be too wide on the first turn. I was hoping somebody in the middle (of the race) didn’t push me wide," he said.

Orb ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89

Orb paid $12.80, $7.40 and $5.40. Golden Soul, a 34-1 shot, returned $38.60 and $19.40 while Revolutionary paid $5.40 to show.

The 62-year-old McGaughey said the victory meant everything to him.

"I’m thrilled to death for (the owners), thrilled to death for the people who put so much time into this horse, and, of course, I’m thrilled to death for me," he said.

Todd Pletcher had a record-tying five runners. Revolutionary was the best of the "Todd Squad," followed by Charming Kitten (ninth), Overanalyze (11th), Palace Malice (12th) and Verrazano (14th).

Goldencents, owned in part by Rick Pitino, coach of Louisville’s national basketball champions, finished a 17th. His jockey, Kevin Krigger, was trying to become the first black rider to win the race since 1902.

Rosie Napravnik was also bidding to make history as the first woman jockey to win the world’s biggest horse race. She finished fifth aboard Mylute, the highest finish by a female rider.

D. Wayne Lukas, who won the Derby four times and would have been the oldest trainer to saddle a winner, sent out two runners. Oxbow, with three-time Derby winning jockey Gary Stevens aboard, finished sixth. Will Take Charge was eighth.

Lines of Battle from Ireland finished seventh, denying European champion trainer Aidan O’Brien the international victory.

The rain that pelted the track earlier in the day had stopped by the time 19 horses paraded to the post for the 139th Derby.

The crowd of 151,616 must have known something, with a surge of late money sending Orb off as the favorite after Revolutionary owned that position most of the day.

Winning co-owners Stuart Janney and Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps scored their first Derby victory. The first cousins are among the sport’s blue bloods that include the old-money Whitney and Vanderbilt families.

Being from Lexington, the heart of Kentucky’s horse country, McGaughey figured to be a regular Derby participant. But Orb was just his second starter since 1989, when McGaughey watched Easy Goer lose to Sunday Silence.

Orb also was the second Derby starter for both Janney and Phipps, whose previous entries were in 1988 and `89. Their family wealth allows them to race the horses they breed, unlike the majority of current owners who are involved through partnerships that split up the exorbitant costs of the sport.

The cousins’ grandfather, Henry Phipps, founded wealth management firm Bessemer Trust in 1907. Janney serves as chairman, while Dinny Phipps is its director. He also chairs The Jockey Club, the sport’s governing body that registers thoroughbreds, while Janney is vice chairman.

Orb-Kentucky-Derby-Winner

May 4, 2013: Joel Rosario rides Orb during the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky

Related:

Shug McGaughey

 

 

Shug McGaughey finally finds his Kentucky Derby grail

 

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May 5, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet | , , , | 2 Comments

Two Horses Die at Grand Nationals… Aintree England

Barry Geraghty riding Sprinter Sacre

Sprinter Sacre’s victory on Friday was overshadowed by tragedy 

Originally Posted:  April 5, 2013

AINTREE, England (AP):  The Aintree Festival experienced more grief Friday following the death of another horse over the fences in the Grand National Steeplechase, overshadowing the latest victory by Sprinter Sacre.

Little Josh was destroyed after breaking a shoulder following a fall in the Topham Steeplechase, the fourth race of the day. He was the second horse to die at this year’s festival, after Battlefront on Thursday.

”This injury was not treatable and it was the necessary course of action,” said Prof. Chris Proudman, veterinary adviser at Aintree. 

bracketIt’s a major blow to organizers who made modifications to the course after four deaths in the past two Grand Nationals and complaints from animal-rights groups.

”We have made significant improvements in safety at the course, but we also recognize that jump racing carries risk you can never completely remove from the sport,” said John Baker, who runs the Aintree course in Liverpool.

Jockey Liam Treadwell was hospitalized after falling from Regal d’Estruval in the same race.

On Thursday, Katie Walsh pulled up Battlefront midway through the Fox Hunters’ Steeplechase. The 11-year-old horse collapsed and died shortly afterward from a suspected heart attack.

Aintree’s restyled fences have been softened by removing wooden stakes and replacing them with a more forgiving plastic material. Critics believe still more needs to be done, with 21 horses having died in races over Grand National fences since 2001.

”Sadly there is a statistical probability that horses will die at the Grand National meeting,” said Dr. Mark Kennedy, head of science at World Society for the Protection of Animals.

He said the risk horses are exposed to in a steeplechase at the three-day Aintree meeting is six deaths in 1,000 starts.

4-6-13-Aintree-steeple-chase_full_380[1]Nigel Twiston-Davies, the trainer of Little Josh, said the horse had ”gone out doing what he loved most.”

”It could happen anywhere, it could happen at home and it’s not the fences – it could have happened at a park course,” Twiston Davies said.

About 30 minutes before Little Josh fell, Sprinter Sacre sauntered to victory over a top-class field in the Melling Chase, taking his unbeaten run over fences to nine races.

Running his first race over the longer distance of 2 1/2 miles, the 1-3 favorite cruised along with jockey Barry Geraghty before taking the lead by jumping the next-to-last fence and accelerating clear of Cue Card to win by about five lengths.

”When you let him loose, like at the second-last, he does it too easily,” said Geraghty, who completed a double for the day by winning the Topham Steeplechase on 14-1 shot Triolo d’Alene. ”The two-and-a-half miles didn’t make any difference. He has plenty of pace and is very versatile.”

Sprinter Sacre has become the superstar of British horse racing since the retirement of the unbeaten Frankel last year.

”He’s got a huge amount of ability and knows how to use it,” trainer Nicky Henderson said. ”I don’t think anybody has taught him about jumping. It is sheer natural talent.”

Sprinter Sacre is unbeaten since switching from hurdles in 2011, and beat a field containing Cue Card, who won a big race at the Cheltenham Festival last month, last year’s champion Finian’s Rainbow and Irish hope Flemenstar.

He was the third straight favorite to win on Ladies’ Day – the second day of the festival – after My Tent Or Yours (4-11) in the Novices’ Hurdle and Dynaste (9-4) in the Novices’ Chase.

The 40-horse Grand National, which is the highlight of the festival, takes place on Saturday.

Accidents?  Drugging?  You be the judge….

Related:

661 long shot wins Grand National Steeplechase 

Frog Juice: Horse Racing’s New Doping Scandal | TIME.com 

Murder on the Backside: The Unseen World of the Kentucky Derby

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April 8, 2013 Posted by | animal abuse, animals, Political Change, responsible pet ownership, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , | 2 Comments