American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes to complete the third leg of the Triple Crown under sunny Saturday afternoon skies at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
The horse beneath Victor Espinoza took an almost immediate lead in the 1 ½ mile race. Despite early challenges from Materiality and Mubtaahij, American Pharoah never relinquished the top spot gained shortly after the gates opened. The challengers, none of whom had competed in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, stayed close nearly the whole way. Around the final turn, Espinoza depressed the gas pedal and pulled away down the homestretch.
American Pharoah finished in a time of 2:26.55. Frosted placed and Keen Ice finished in third.
The victory makes the horse with the misspelled name the first since Affirmed in 1978 to pull off the feat of winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. The third time proved a charm for Espinoza, the jockey who had experienced disappointment at Belmont before. Saturday represented silver-haired Bob Baffert’s fourth chance as a trainer to win the Triple Crown. Like Espinoza, Baffert had always come away from Belmont heartbroken.
American Pharoah, the fourteenth horse to try for the Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978, becomes just the twelfth horse to triumph in all three legs.