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.
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.