Past time for American Pharoah to give us a Triple Crown sweep

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Jen Caldwell

May 22nd, 2015

I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoy spring cleaning. You just never know what gem you’re going to find hiding in a box stuffed in the corner of your closet.

This year’s find was made even more poignant when a Triple Crown sweep became possible with American Pharoah’s seven-length romp in the Preakness Stakes.

While going through some old binders, I came across one that contained all my memorabilia from when I was young and just getting into horse racing. Front and center were newspaper clippings of the 1989 Triple Crown season.

That happened to be my first experience with horse racing, and what an experience it was. Is there any better way to be introduced to this amazing sport than the rivalry between two great Hall of Famers like Sunday Silence and Easy Goer?

At first it was hard to choose a favorite. I’d always been partial to chestnuts, but also grew up devouring “The Black Stallion” series by Walter Farley.

In the end, one glance at Sunday Silence was all it took to hook me for life. Watching that lean, black colt weave back and forth to Kentucky Derby victory, and then battle with Easy Goer to triumph in the Preakness, was exhilarating.

Three weeks later the ride came to an end when Easy Goer romped over his home track in the Belmont Stakes. To 11-year-old me it was absolutely heartbreaking.

As in, crying my eyes out heartbreaking.

Eventually I got over it and continued my love affair with horse racing into the present time. Other favorite runners have come and gone – Trippi, Take Charge Lady, Tiznow, Better Talk Now, Afleet Alex, Proud Spell, Jackson Bend – but Sunday Silence will always have a special place.

That black colt and his chestnut arch rival introduced me to the chills and thrills, ups and downs, which come when watching two magnificent equines fight for domination on track.

And now we have American Pharoah.

I didn’t back him in either the Derby or Preakness, not because I thought he couldn’t win but because I liked others in those races better. I’m not a handicapper and never pretended to be. I love horse racing for the horses, not the wagering side of it, and cheer on my favorite runners regardless of their actual chances to win.

Strange, I know.

American Pharoah is a top notch horse and thus far has proven better than all his challengers. But as my colleague Vance Hanson wrote yesterday, the Triple Crown is as much about a “perfect storm” (i.e. plain ole’ luck) as it is about talent.

American Pharoah has the latter aspect in spades and, despite being a fan of other expected runners in the Belmont Stakes, this time I’ll be rooting for him to be kissed by Lady Lucky in that 1 1/2-mile contest.

The reason is simple.

At the risk of divulging my age, the last Triple Crown came the year I was born. It’s past time for another little girl to thrill at the thought of her favorite horse sweeping the greatest feat in sports.