NEW YORK — At long last, the Triple Crown drought is over.
American Pharoah led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 5 ½ lengths on Saturday, becoming the first horse in 37 years to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — one of the sporting world's rarest feats.
The bay colt with the unusually short tail defeated seven rivals in the grueling 1 1/2-mile race, covering the distance in 2:26.65 to end the longest stretch without a Triple Crown champion in history.
American Pharoah is the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to win three races on different tracks at varying distances over a five-week span. He won the Kentucky Derby by one length on May 2 and then romped to a seven-length victory in the rainy Preakness two weeks later.
Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza ended their own frustrating histories in the Triple Crown. Baffert finally won on his record fourth Triple try, having lost in 1997, 1998 (by a nose) and in 2002. Espinoza got it done with his record third shot after failing to win in 2002 and last year on California Chrome.
Frosted finished second and Keen Ice third.
Reactions on social media:
BREAKING: American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes and completes the Triple Crown! pic.twitter.com/R3uIhMpHbo— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 6, 2015
The Wait is Over: American Pharoah is First Triple Crown Winner Since 1978 http://t.co/hEBWT0kUfx pic.twitter.com/nPtHdb6sgL— Slate (@Slate) June 7, 2015
AmericanPharoah became 12th #TripleCrown winner in horse racing history, snapping the historic 36-year Triple Crown drought.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2015
"It was an unbelievable magical moment" - American Pharoah's owner Ahmed Zayat http://t.co/dzzReBwFWa pic.twitter.com/mZH7uGSeje— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 8, 2015
Crazy: If American Pharoah's time on Saturday was put in the 1973 Belmont, he would have finished 16 lengths behind Secretariat.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 8, 2015
About 24 hours since the Belmont and still amazed. Last night's column on American Pharoah's run to immortality: http://t.co/jrkdVAwJYw— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) June 7, 2015