Abel Cedillo Rides Thousand Words to Upset Victory at the Shared Belief Stakes

Abel Cedillo has pulled off a major upset…

The Guatemalan horse rider, last year’s TVG Breakthrough Jockey of the Year, rode Thousand Words to an upset win over favorite Honor A. P. (1-5) by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar over the weekend, giving trainer Bob Baffert another candidate for next month’s Kentucky Derby.

Abel Cedillo

Thousand Words ran 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 43.85 seconds and paid $20.40 and $3.40 at 9-1 odds.

The colt earned 50 qualifying points for the Derby, which was postponed until Labor Day weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baffert said Thousand Words has perked up since coming from Los Angeles to the seaside track north of San Diego.

“The real Thousand Words showed up today,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “His whole mind changed. His color has changed. He had soured out on me, but we got him going the right way. He earned his way to the Derby.”

Thousand Words has four wins in seven career starts.

Cedillo has 1,284 career wins in 8,435 starts with earning of $27,898,415.

Espinoza Leads American Pharoah to Victory in First Post-Triple Crown Race

Victor Espinoza continues his winning ways…

The 43-year-old Mexican jockey, who was named Best Jockey at this year’s ESPY Awards, gave American Pharoah a slight nudge to take control and lead the majestic colt to victory at the Haskell Invitational, delivering an encore performance in his first race since winning the Triple Crown.

Victor Espinoza

“This horse, he just keeps bringing it,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s just a great horse.”

With a record crowd of 60,983 cheering him on Sunday at Monmouth Park, American Pharoah came out of the final turn with a clear lead and cruised to a 2¼-length victory while Espinoza barely moved a muscle.

“He ran like a champ,” Espinoza said.

After winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first in 37 years, American Pharoah’s return was greatly anticipated.

Fifty-seven days after the Belmont, the 3-year-old son of Pioneer of the Nile looked better than ever in his eighth consecutive victory.

“That was nerve-racking,” Baffert said after his eighth win in the Haskell, five more than any other trainer. “I was getting pretty nervous.”

“No clue,” owner Ahmed Zayat said when asked about his colt’s next race. “We’re going to enjoy this moment.”

If all goes according to plan, American Pharoah will run his final race in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 31. Then he’s headed down the road to the breeding shed at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.

A few minutes after Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born to Run” blared over the speakers as the horses walked onto the track, American Pharoah broke well from post No. 4. But it was Competitive Edge who took the lead. Espinoza kept his horse in second until the far turn. And then, American Pharoah took off and was all alone in the stretch.

The final margin was deceptive because Espinoza never asked American Pharoah to run any harder than necessary.

“It was pretty easy,” said Espinoza, who is unbeaten in eight races as American Pharoah’s jockey. “For me the key was just coming out of there running. I knew that other horse would want to take the lead, so I sat back just a little bit. I never like to go head and head with another horse, so I sat back maybe half a length behind. He did everything by himself. It was pretty easy, pretty impressive.”

American Pharoah followed many of his Triple Crown colleagues by winning his first start after three grueling races in five weeks. Of the 11 others, seven won in their return and one, Count Fleet, was retired after the 1943 Belmont with an injury.

American Pharoah opened his career with a loss before reeling off eight in a row — seven of them Grade 1 races. With the $1.1 million payday in the Haskell, his career earnings soared to $5.6 million.

Espinoza Rides American Pharoah to Triple Crown Greatness

Victor Espinoza has jockeyed his way into the history books…

American Pharoah, with the 43-year-old Mexican jockey at the reins, won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Victor Espinoza
Affirmed had been the last horse to win the Triple Crown, taking the most coveted prize in horse racing in 1978.

American Pharoah lived up to expectations on Saturday, pulling away from its challengers in the last stretch of the 147th Belmont Stakes and becoming just the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown.

“It’s very emotional,” American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, said. “What a feeling. It’s probably going to take a few days to sink in.”

The horse, which is owned by Zayat Stables, won the Kentucky Derby on May 2 and the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, taking the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

Baffert and Espinoza had come up short in five previous bids between them to win the Triple Crown.

“He walked into the gate amazing,” Espinoza said. “He was ready today. As soon as I sat in the saddle, there was so much power and so much energy this horse had. He trained perfect, just unbelievable coming into the race.”

American Pharoah ended the longest streak without a Triple Crown winner in the history of American horse racing, with 13 horses losing in the Belmont Stakes after winning the first two races in the series.

The previous longest stretch without a Triple Crown winner was 25 years, spanning the time from Citation’s victory in 1948 to Secretariat’s win in 1973.

“It’s just an amazing thing. It’s just unbelievable how things work out. It’s just an amazing horse like American Pharoah. I was coming to this race with so much confidence the last two times. It’s just unbelievable,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza won the first two legs of the Triple Crown with War Emblem in 2002 and California Chrome last year, but he came up short each time at Belmont.