” When American Pharoah leaned back in the gate as the bell rang and the doors opened, the colt broke a step slow. Espinoza did not even worry. Within the first two jumps, American Pharoah had catapulted ahead of his seven rivals and glided into the first turn like a marble circling a roulette wheel.
In the saddle, Espinoza felt a rush that had twice eluded him. He was on California Chrome last year and War Emblem for Baffert, only to remember how two very good colts staggered beneath him and the collective gasp of more than 100,000 disappointed people rustled within him.
But not this time — Espinoza dropped the reins on his colt and let the muscled bay take him home. When he was a boy in his native Mexico, Espinoza had been afraid of horses. Now, at 43, he knew they were a gift. Beneath him, American Pharoah’s strides were getting longer and longer, but Espinoza felt as if he were riding on a cloud.
“Steady, steady,” Espinoza said to himself.
Mubtaahij, from Dubai, took a run at him on the far turn, but got within only three lengths before peeling back. Revving up outside him, however, was the late-running Frosted. His jockey, Joel Rosario, scrubbed the gray colt’s neck and got within four, three and two and a half lengths, but then American Pharoah stretched his stride as if he were elastic and snapped off to a four-length lead. When Espinoza crossed the finish line five and a half lengths ahead, he finally allowed a smile to curl at the corner of his mouth and a raucous celebration to reverberate deep in his bones.”
It reads like a classic American love story. “There had been only 11 winners of the Triple Crown in history. America had elected five presidents, fought three wars and lived through at least three economic downturns since Affirmed had last completed the feat in 1978. (by Joe Drape of the NY TIMES)
Congratulations American Pharaoh on a beautiful job WELL, WELL done!
Art by Michele Bedigian