American Pharoah won the first Triple Crown in a generation, then went on to win racing’s next biggest achievement by winning the Breeder’s Cup Classic on Halloween. Now there’s a campaign going on to make this wonder horse Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Have you given Pharoah your vote yet?
How he won the Belmont Stakes
On the day of the big race, the crowds thundered as the race started fast under a clear sky. The horses bounded out of the gate into the early evening sun as if to catch the long shadows that rocketed out first. One shadow moved ahead as American Pharoah kicked hard to a two-length lead.
Pharoah’s feet seemed to fly above the ground. He moved away from the other horses and surged to full speed, sailing ahead of the slate gray colt Frosted, ahead of brawny Keen Ice, ahead of tall, fast Dortmund. He outran them all, as if he were still a barefoot yearling galloping with his friends in the rolling pastures of Kentucky.
Like a roller coaster, it was over fast. Pharoah crossed the finish line in two minutes and 26 seconds. Many believed it impossible. Ninety thousand fans screamed, yelled and took pictures. Victor Espinoza’s turquoise silks rippled in the sun as he paraded Pharoah back and forth in front of the grandstands. At the winner’s circle, the horse wore a 40-pound blanket made of white carnations that symbolize, love, luck, and the heart required to win the Triple Crown’s longest race.
His funky tail
Pharoah is best known for his speed, his kind nature and of course, for being the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. He’s also known for his quirks, like his short tail. When the colt was two years old and on his way from Florida to California, he arrived with a tail much shorter tail than when he left. Trainer Bob Baffert says no one has confessed to knowing what happened. Perhaps another young horse got bored and chewed the long hairs of the colt’s tail, but nobody knows. One thing’s for sure, American Pharoah’s short tail makes it easier to recognize him on the track. As for other quirks, there are two big blue ones – the round, spongy ear plugs that the colt sports everywhere he goes to keep out distracting noises.
The typo in his name
In 2014, when it was time to name the plain-brown colt and register him with the Jockey Club, Zayat Stables held a contest via social media. The winning name contained a misspelling. The correct way to spell the word for the great Egyptian ruler is “Pharaoh.” But, the name – typo and all — was entered into the Jockey Club registry online as “American Pharoah.” Once the registration was complete, it was too late to change.
Vote for American Pharoah here before midnight on December 12. Spread the word via social media using #Vote4aHorse.
Back to Over the Fence
Follow Kitson Jazynka on Twitter: @KitsonJ.