Memorable Reflections on Belmont Stakes Day from the Turf Paradise Clubhouse
Following a 37-year draught, horse racing has a Triple Crown Winner.
In winning the Belmont Stakes, Saturday, June 6, American Pharoah became only the 12th horse in 147-years to capture one of sport’s most difficult athletic achievements: winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
From Belmont Park to the standing room only crowd of Turf Paradise’s Clubhouse and throughout the horse-racing world, fans began cheering as the eight-horse Belmont Stakes field was loaded into the starting gate. The cheering grew quickly louder. There would be no shot of hearing this race call. But that didn’t seem to matter.
Was this going to be the year? Fourteen other horses had been in this position before – winning the first two legs of the Crown – only to fail in the third and final leg, the Belmont Stakes. American Pharoah’s trainer, Nogales, Arizona native Bob Baffert had been in this position three previous times, with Indian Charlie, War Emblem and Real Quiet, only to fall short. American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, had also been in the enviable position with a shot at glory twice before, and as recently as last year with California Chrome, only to emulate Baffert and fail. Why should this year, this American Pharoah horse, be any different?
When the gate doors swung open the crowd’s cheering muted for an eternally long second or two as American Pharoah broke a tad awkwardly. Was history about to repeat itself? But Espinoza hustled American Pharoah forward and to the lead of his seven rivals into the Clubhouse turn. The Clubhouse crowd immediately went from cheering to passionate rooting of horse and rider, of American Pharoah and Espinoza, as they straightened down the backstretch.
When Materiality and John Velazquez and Mubtaahik (IRE) and Irad Ortiz came within two lengths and three lengths respectively of American Pharoah at about the mile marker, the crowd ratch-ed up their volume, as if by shouting louder it would somehow fortify American Pharoah to hold them at bay. It did.
Leading his tiring rivals into the long Belmont stretch, American Pharoah took on one last challenge from the tough-as-nails Wood Memorial winner Frosted and Joel Rosario.
The crowd took it to volume 10:
“Let him go, Victor”!
“Keeping going Pharoah”!
“You’re almost home”!
“Yes! Yes! Yes”!
Espinoza smooched at American Pharoah and the big bay colt of calm demeanor lengthened his stride effortlessly as if to say, “Not this time. Not this Belmont. Not this horse”.
With a sixteenth of a mile remaining it was clear that history was going to be made, that the draught was over, that the horse had finally arrived to add his name to the immortals amid the screaming, high-five-ing, dancing and jumping up and down, and, yes, of grown men letting tears fall, unbridled celebration.
Finally the collective world of horseplayers had been delivered to the Promised Land.
American Pharoah had won the Triple Crown!
Can American Pharoah do it?
The brilliant colt, who seemingly runs without effort, won the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness stakes. Now Belmont Stakes. Can American Pharoah win it and become only the 12th horse to win the illusive Triple Crown?
Join us at Turf Paradise this Saturday to be part of potential history-making sport’s event when American Pharoah carries the hopes of so many to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
At Turf Paradise doors will open at 8:00 am on Belmont Day Saturday.
The first Belmont simulcast is at 8:35 am.
The Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 3:50 pm
OTB’s will open at 9:30 am.
Advanced wagering for Belmont Day’s entire card will take place at approximately 4:00 pm Friday.
The air-conditioned Clubhouse, Turf Club and Players’ Club will be open at Turf Paradise. There is no admission charge or seat charge.
The Grandstand will be closed.
The Turf Club will offer an all-day buffet for $25 per person.
The Clubhouse will offer a limited A La Carte menu.
A field of eight was drawn for the Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah drawing the five post with regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard for trainer Bob Baffert for the 1 ½ miles test.
Since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978, there have been 14 horses, which just like American Pharoah had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to win the Belmont Stakes and claim the Triple Crown.
Nor is it the first time for Baffert to be in this position, with three of his horses (Silver Charm, 1997, Real Quiet, 1998 and War Emblem, 2002) winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but failing to capture the last jewel in the crown, the Belmont Stakes..
Goes to show just how tough an athletic achievement winning the Triple Crown really is.
PP Horse Jockey Odds
1 Mubtaahij Irad Ortiz 10-1
2 Tale of Verve Gary Stevens 15-1
3 Madefromlucky Javier Castellano 12-1
4 Frammento Mike Smith 30-1
5 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza 3-5
6 Frosted Joel Rosario 5-1
7 Keen Ice Kent Desormeaux 20-1
8 Materiality John Velazquez 6-1
In addition to the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, the following stakes will be part of Saturday’s Belmont card:
$500,000 Woody Stephens, $300,000 Jaipur, $1,000,000 Ogden Phipps, $400,000 Brooklyn, $750,000 Acorn, $1,250,000 Metropolitan, and the $1,000,000 Manhattan.
Can Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah win Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown? The Preakness will be simulcast to Turf Paradise and to all 60 in-state OTBs.
Doors at Turf Paradise will open at 7:15 am with the first Pimlico simulcast scheduled for 7:30 am. The Preakness post time is 3:18 pm. The Grandstand will be closed, since there is no live racing at Turf, but the Clubhouse, Turf Club and Players’ will be open. An A La Carte menu is offered in the Clubhouse and all day buffets are featured in the Turf Club and Players’ Club.
A field of eight has been drawn for the Preakness. Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah and third place Derby finisher Dortmund, both trained by Bob Baffert, drew the No 1 and No 2 posts respectively. Derby runner up Firing Line will break from the eight post.
Showing that he’s just getting better, veteran rider Scott Stevens won his seventh leading jockey’s title as the 2014-2015 race meet came to a close Tuesday at Turf Paradise.Six-time leading rider, Stevens, 54, whose last title came in 1999, racked up 104 wins. Geovanni Franco finished with 97 victories.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro followed his record-setting 125 wins of last year with 101 tallies this season to take the crown.
In the competitive owners’ division, Charles Garvey and Kings River Ranch tied with 25 wins each.
Sawyer Cattle Company’s prohibitive 1-9 favorite Az Ridge ($2.10) did not disappoint, winning the $35,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap by seven lengths over Crushed It with Stoney Fleece third in the field of six older horses.
Trained by Dan McFarlane and calmly ridden by Geovanni Franco, Az Ridge, who was also voted Horse of the Meet, covered the marathon 1 7/8 miles over firm turf in 3:12.72. The 6-year-old Az Ridge, who was winning his third consecutive stakes and notching his 13th victory from 38 lifetime starts now has earnings of $379,601.
Sawyer Cattle Company and company - Franco and McFarlane - came right back in the 9thrace finale, the $51,102 ATBA Spring Sales Stakes, with a come-from-behind nose win with Ez Deluxe ($14.20) over 6-5 favorite Taste’s Secret with Chargin Bye another 3 ½ lengths back in the field of nine 2-year-olds.
Ez Deluxe covered the 5 furlongs in :59.05 and earned $25,551 for his first career win.
Simulcasting from major race tracks will continue throughout the summer. Live racing returns October 17-May 7, 2016 for a 136-day meet.