American Pharoah is Special But How Special Do You Have To Be To Win a Triple Crown?

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TwinSpires Staff

May 29th, 2015


It takes a special horse to complete a Triple Crown sweep. The question is how special?

Thirteen horses since 1978 have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and all failed to win the Belmont Stakes, including some of the best horses in the past generation like Spectacular Bid and Sunday Silence.

These were supremely talented horses, but for various reasons none were able to win the Belmont Stakes. Spectacular Bid has the safety pin excuse, competing jockeys ganged up on Smarty Jones, Sunday Silence lost on Easy Goer’s home court, Real Quiet moved too soon, Big Brown didn’t fire, War Emblem started poorly, and I’ll Have Another didn’t even start are some of the more well-known storylines.

This year, American Pharoah is the 14th horse to complete the double and try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, and he already has overcome an injury suffered his two-year-old season, a wide trip in the Derby, and a gate-to-wire trip from the rail on a sloppy track in the Preakness. There is no question that American is a special horse, but is he special enough?

Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has said numerous times that even though the horse is running against the odds that he believes in his horse.

“He makes my job very easy, “Baffert said. “You can’t train greatness; you just watch.”

Baffert’s assistant, Jimmy Barnes, said the Preakness did not take much out of American Pharoah. “Once the track turned sloppy, he just skipped over it,” he said.

Jockey Martin Garcia, who works American Pharoah in the mornings said following the colt’s May 26 drill that he was “super good; really, really good.”

So, what is the key?

American Pharoah’s connections believe that a good bit of the colt’s ability comes from a near flawless stride, in which he exhibits no wasted motion. A clocker at Churchill Downs even described his stride as “airborne.”

Baffert, who has trained some of the best, including three others who have attempted the Triple Crown, said he’s never had a horse that moves like Pharoah. “I've had some really good horses but I've never had a horse that moves like that. There's something in there that makes him so different than the other horses. That's what we have in our favor."

Is American Pharoah the one? His connections and the rest of American racing is waiting with bated breath to see if he is, indeed that special.