Is American Pharoah the one? Horse racing fans everywhere are asking the question that has been posed many times over the past 37 years. Can this horse win the elusive Triple Crown? No horse has won Thoroughbred racing’s most coveted prize since 1978. Since 1979, 13 have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but faltered at the final race, the Belmont Stakes.
American Pharoah’s splashy victory in the rain-drenched Preakness on May 16 has prompted the hopes and the hype yet again. The great-great-great grandson of Secretariat has demonstrated that he can run in the mud, on dry tracks, on the rail or to the outside, coming from behind or staying in the lead.
However, the Belmont Stakes in New York, often called “the test of champions,” will be his most daunting challenge. Not only does American Pharoah have to run his first mile-and-a-half race, but he also will face horses with fresh legs—Thoroughbreds who did not run in the Derby or Preakness.
“If American Pharoah can win the Belmont, he will become only the 12th horse since 1919 to win the Triple Crown,” said Leeanne Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park. She gives narrated tours of Secretariat’s birthplace there.
“Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, and his jockey, Ron Turcotte, both have said they think American Pharoah can get the job done,” Ladin noted. “Fans everywhere would love to see a Secretariat descendant finally win the Triple Crown.”
Ladin pointed out that when Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, racing had not seen a winner for 25 years, since Citation in 1948. Many experts believed it could not be done again. Secretariat’s stunning 31-length victory in the Belmont and blistering time of2:24, along with his record times in the Derby and Preakness, remain unapproachable in racing history.
Secretariat’s Caroline County birthplace is now a Virginia Historic Landmark. For more information on the narrated Hoofprints of History tours, visit MeadowEventPark.com.