Hello fellow writers,
To give a bit of background, I love Thoroughbred racing, and it has been a year to remember with American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown.
I have composed a tribute to him, and what he has meant to racing and his fans. I hope all of you that read this like it.
American Pharoah: An Appreciation
This year's Breeders' Cup Classic was both a culmination and a coronation.
The 1 1/4 mile race was the culmination of a career of one of the most special horses to come along in recent memory.
It was also his coronation, for his victory symbolized his greatness. He is the undisputed best of his three year old class, and his 2015 campaign was an adventure that will not be forgotten.
This is the year of American Pharoah, Grand Slam champion.
From the summer of 2014, when he began his career in a maiden special weight race at Del Mar, to his triumph in Keeneland, the son of Pioneerof the Nile has delivered moment after memorable moment to the racing world. At a time when racing needed a hero, thirsted for a positive story, American Pharoah stepped into that role.
Over the duration of his career, American Pharoah proved to be a horse society can relate to. He overcame adversity more than once. An injury just days before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile would not dictate his destiny. A far outside post in the Kentucky Derby would not derail him from glory in Louisville. The Triple Crown drought of nearly four decades would not faze him.
It could be said American Pharoah loved a challenge. It certainly seemed that way and one can look at the Triple Crown series as a reference. He shook off seventeen rivals in the Derby after starting from the auxiliary gate. He easily handled his opposition in the Preakness, winning the second jewel of the Crown by seven lengths. Then came Belmont Park.
Since Affirmed in 1978, thirteen horses arrived to the Belmont Stakes with an opportunity to seize the Triple Crown. Through 2014, none of them were able to add the 1 1/2 mile event to their collection, thus being denied the Crown.
This illustrates another unique aspect of American Pharoah. It could also be said that he was fearless. He clearly loved winning, but the question leading up to the Belmont was if the latest dual classic winner would be the horse to break the drought, or would he join the list of horses that came up short in a Triple Crown bid.
American Pharoah delivered an emphatic answer on June 6th, 2015.
He took the lead shortly after the start and never gave it up. It did not matter that thirty-seven years had passed since the Triple Crown was won. It did not matter that the race was 1 1/2 miles. It did not matter that this was the third race for American Pharoah in five weeks. None of that rattled him, and it showed in the Belmont.
He was in control in the Test of the Champion, and once he turned for home, he widened his lead. It was his day, and no one or nothing would.
To the collective roar of not just the crowd at Belmont Park, but all over the country and the world, American Pharoah fulfilled the dreams of many. Every jockey and trainer and owner hope to win the Triple Crown. Every racing fan wishes to see a horse achieve the elusive prize.
American Pharoah made the dreams of Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert, Ahmed Zayat, and the fans, come true that day in New York.
What followed after American Pharoah crossed the wire was an outpouring of emotion. Not only was racing treated to the sight of a Triple Crown being won, but it was a day where the sport experienced euphoria, a wave of positivity, and that is something racing does not get like it used to.
With his triumph, American Pharoah brought racing back to the eyes of society at large.
It turned out he was just getting warmed up.
When horse racing has a Triple Crown winner, that means wherever he goes, people will follow. More than 60,000 did when American Pharoah came to Monmouth Park for the Haskell Invitational, a record for the venue. He did not disappoint, easily taking the track's marquee race to the delight of his fans.
Up next was the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and 50,000 came to see the champion. He finished second that day, but it was a valiant second. He turned away Frosted in the stretch, and looked like he would take the Midsummer Derby, but was passed late by Keen Ice.
He may not have won, but American Pharoah showed he had heart. This was a brilliant second place finish. He did not go down without a fight, and people appreciate that.
He lost the Travers, yes. But he was no less a champion. That race would hardly define American Pharoah. He traveled so much from May to August, captured the Triple Crown and Haskell, and still got a runner up finish at Saratoga. That says a lot.
People love to see effort, and American Pharoah delivered an effort every time.
As the Breeders' Cup Classic approached, the possibility of seeing American Pharoah become the first Grand Slam winner resulted in a feeling of electricity throughtout the racing world. No horse had ever had a chance to do it. Could the Breeders' Cup Classic become an instant classic?
Like his Belmont Stakes triumph in June, American Pharoah seized the lead early. He would remain in that spot for the rest of the race. As he turned for home, his lead expanded. No one was going to defeat him and deprive him of the Grand Slam.
With the world watching, American Pharoah did not disappoint, giving the sport one more thrill as he obliterated the track record at Keeneland by over five seconds. He not only won, he dominated, and he went out the champion that he is.
He left his stamp on this race in more ways than one. In addition to owning the new track record, American Pharoah equaled Volponi's record for margin of victory in the Classic, taking the race by 6 1/2 lengths. The win was worth $2,750,000, earning him the distinction of being the fourth highest earning Thoroughbred in North America.
More than a week has passed since American Pharoah's retirement, but he has a lot more ahead of him. He will be the 2015 Eclipse Award winner for Top 3 Year Old Male and Horse of the Year. A first ballot Hall of Fame induction is also assured.
Now, American Pharoah will embark on a stud career, and fans will be waiting to see his sons and daughters race.
With his Grand Slam, American Pharoah has reached immortality. He is a horse that comes along once in a generation.
For the racing world, everyone involved has their own American Pharoah story. Maybe they saw him win the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps they saw his dominating performance in the Preakness.
For those that saw him join the club of Triple Crown champions live at Belmont Park, they were treated to a moment that may not be experienced for a long time. Instant history was made before their eyes that day.
If someone tells the story of seeing him win the Haskell at Monmouth Park, they can also say they were a part of history, for they were part of the largest crowd ever to be at the New Jersey race track.
Of course, American Pharoah will forever have ties to Southern California. Those in attendance at Del Mar on August 9th, 2014, can say they saw the future Triple Crown and subsequent Grand Slam champion make his debut.
Fans that witnessed American Pharoah's triumph in the Del Mar Futurity can say they watched him win for the first time.
He became part of the storied history of Santa Anita by winning the FrontRunner and later on parading for his fans after his Triple Crown victory.
Those that saw American Pharoah work at Santa Anita and Del Mar saw brilliance. They saw a unique and special horse, even if it was just for a few seconds. It is a moment that will not escape their memories.
For each individual involved in racing, he gave them happiness. For the sport as a whole, he brought it positive attention, more crowds, more new fans. Simply put, American Pharoah has done a lot for racing.
People love to see determination, greatness, inspiration, and they will cheer when a protagonist beats the odds. This can be said about American Pharoah. He is a champion that can easily be admired.
His career spanned eleven races. His impact and legacy are much more far-reaching.
Thank you, American Pharoah, for all you've done. You granted the wish of many by winning the Triple Crown and Grand Slam. You have given racing and your fans so much happiness. You are a great champion and hero.