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Horse Racing: The Sport of Kings

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It might take decades before there's reason for anyone to post here again, but I think American Pharaoh's Triple Crown deserves some recognition. 

 

I was a kid when Affirmed won the last Triple Crown. I knew nothing about horses, but I thought Alydar was the coolest name ever. I rooted for him every race and was so disappointed when he couldn't beat Affirmed that I totally ignored the history that Affirmed was making.

 

I still don't know that much about horse racing (Outside of the fact that Saratoga is one of the best sporting events I have ever been to.), but congrats Team Pharaoh!

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I've loved horses all of my life which spans a few decades... I don't watch races live anymore because it's too stressful and I've seen too much tragedy over the years. I miscalculated on Saturday and turned it on after the first half but I'm glad I did because I got to see it as it happened.

 

I was screaming. I burst into hysterical weeping. My 8 year old niece had no idea what was happening and my sister had to explain it to her.

 

I honestly never thought I'd ever see it happen. I was five when Affirmed won but I didn't even know that the races were a thing to see on TV. At that age, I'm not sure I even knew what they were yet. I wasn't reading any horse books at five that talked about the Triple Crown or anything like that. And over the years... there were so many almosts and not quites...

 

I really didn't think it would ever happen again. It was amazing.

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I was jumping up and down yelling.   "Come on American Pharoah"   "Hes picking up speed."   "the distance is getting longer."   "come on, come on"   "We're going to have a Triple Crown, We're going to have a Triple Crown, We're going to have a Triple Crown."   When he crossed the finish line I cried.   I couldn't believe it.   So many came so close.   

 

Then there was Espinoza's "Holy Shit" on live tv.   That was hilarious.   And so perfect for the moment.

 

The scene in the stands was wild.  

 

It was an amazing moment in sports history.   You get a Baseball World Series Winner every year.   There's a Super Bowl Champ every year.   But in the entire history of the Triple Crown, there have been only 12 horses.   TWELVE!!!!!    That is something worth talking about.

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I was 13 when Affirmed won in 1978 and honestly never thought there'd be another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime.  The Belmont is my favorite of the three races, partly because I grew up not too far from there and also because it has such a relatively laid back attitude (I still laugh thinking about the time a fan tossed Bob Costas a can of beer) but I feel this event never gets the credit it deserves.

 

Throughout the entire race I was on my feet and screaming, to the point where my throat started to hurt.  This was a moment to behold, made even better with Victor Espinoza's audible "holy shit!!!" afterwards!!

 

A coworker of mine watched from a sports bar and she said the place went nuts.  I know the year is only half over but I won't be surprised if this is the sports story of 2015.

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A friend of mine was lucky enough to be there in person and said it was just the most incredible moment. She was sitting at the finish line about 20 rows up and said the crowd just lost its mind and her ears were still ringing hours after it was over. Apparently, it was one of those "hug random strangers" kind of moments and everyone was caught up in it. I'm so jealous.

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I was 14 when Affirmed & Stevie Cauthen won in '78. I was too young to see Secretariat, so the races w/Affirmed & Alydar were so exciting that I was hooked.

I also was in awe of Cauthen, being just a few years older than myself.

We really thought Smarty Jones was gonna do it, and the Belmont where he came in 2nd was extremely disappointing.

Of course we moved on Saturday, abd we have no cable yet, but I honestly forgot abt the race. So later that night I got on my smart phone and my eyes popped out & my jaw dropped. I had a feeling while watching the Preakness that this horse could be the one.

Thsnk you American Pharoah for proving that the TC can be won & showing that the rules should NOT be changed because of some whining owners.

Good luck to you in the Breeders Cup#

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I have a clear memory of watching Secretariat's amazing win at the Belmont in 1973 and being absolutely enthralled with him and the whole Triple Crown achievement. Many years later, Sports Illustrated had an issue with the Top 10 Athletes of the 20th Century and placed Secretariat in its list. He will always be my favorite race horse, but I was thrilled for American Pharoah and agree that his accomplishment Saturday should be considered the outstanding sporting achievement of 2015.

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I read that about Espinoza.  Apparently he always donates part of his winnings to the City of Hope medical center and for him to donate his entire earning from the Belmont is just outstanding.  Other athletes should take note.

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A friend of mine was lucky enough to be there in person and said it was just the most incredible moment. She was sitting at the finish line about 20 rows up and said the crowd just lost its mind and her ears were still ringing hours after it was over. Apparently, it was one of those "hug random strangers" kind of moments and everyone was caught up in it. I'm so jealous.

 

The announcers on TV kept talking about the sustained roar that was still going on well after Pharoah crossed the wire. Just people yelling and screaming and it not dying down... yet the roar went up again when he came back to the winner's circle. Not surprising. This was an event... I mean, no one at that track was going to NOT root for a Triple Crown when it came down to it.

 

God knows I was screaming and crying in my own home. Magnificent.

 

Any horse that can accomplish this is a great horse but AP seems to be getting some derision in some quarters. Well, people didn't think much of Seattle Slew when he won, either. They argued against his credentials and look at him... the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup silenced all the doubters as far as his heart and racing ability and then he went on to become a magnificent sire and sire of sires.

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a magnificent sire and sire of sires.

AP has already been asking for Zenyatta's number over on twitter (yes parody account).

 

Never understood gelding a horse you want to win the Triple Crown.   Everyone knows the real money is made from stud fees.

 

Aaaaaaand now I am think of an old Chris Rock joke.   I think it was Chris Rock.

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I watched this and like many others here, got really choked up too. Partly because I don't want anything bad to happen to those horses and part because of seeing a Triple Crown win. I didn't even know that those horses get one shot at it. Just one. I didn't know that the races are for only three year old horses, so none of these cuties can race next year. Wow. But yet, got emotional too.

 

So many awesome little facts too about AP.  I thought it was such an amazing story with the Zayat family that owns American Pharoah, that they put him up for auction and as it's literally going on, they decide to buy him back. So they paid $300,000 for their own horse, but obviously they made the right decision. That the name is mispelled and was an internet suggestion by a young boy. The horse is one of the really calm ones apparently, where usually they are high strung and apparently dangerous to be around. They made him earplugs!! LOL He hates loud noise so they have him wearing earplugs. Awww... And his tail was bit off - poor baby.

 

Secretariat still holds the track record at 2.24, but AP was 2.26.40, which is still pretty impressive.

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I remember commenting after I had calmed down 'Wow. His tail is short,' And then right after they explained what happened.

 

Ah...  horses. They come in all shapes and sizes and personalities. Whirlaway, who won the Triple Crown back in '41, was often called Mr. Longtail and he had to wear a special blinker that was almost closed on his outside eye and wide open on his inside because if he didn't wear it, he'd go careening across the track like a nut. Assault had a hoof deformity and was called the 'Club-Footed Comet.' Seattle Slew was so gangly and clumsy as a youngster they called him 'Baby Huey.' Once he grew into his legs there was no stopping him. War Admiral tore a chunk off of his hoof breaking in the Belmont and won the race but left a trail of blood behind him -- it also didn't end his racing career.

 

I don't think anyone is ever going to touch Secretariat's mile and a half. That was beyond extraordinary but, yes, AP's time was very good... especially considering the early fractions. He ran his own race and was plenty fresh for the home stretch. 

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So glad there is a thread for this, even after the fact a bit! I spent a great deal of my childhood at the track (Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar) and for a year my dad actually supported us by betting at the track so I learned to handicap at a very young age. A few years ago I had the distinct pleasure of spending a week in Del Mar and taking my teenage son with my parents and husband to the races and teaching my son the "family tradition". I've been waiting to see another Triple Crown winner since 1978 and tune in every year for the three races, ever hopeful (really thought California Chrome might do it - what a great horse!).

 

So Saturday was epic in my house - made sure that all distractions were entirely eliminated by 3 PM so I could focus on the race and then once those gates opened and it actually started I was so nervous I could barely watch. And as American Pharoah lengthened that glorious stride and kept increasing his lead at the end, I was shaking and crying with joy. (You would think it was my horse or something, but I did not even have any money riding on him). I've watched the race several times since and it never gets old. By the way, AP's time at the end beat Secretariat's last quarter mile - he actually got faster and faster despite having been in the previous two big races (unlike most of the field he faced).

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To be fair, I do believe that Secretariat ran every quarter faster than the one before in the Belmont... and actually ran the mile and a quarter faster than he ran it in the Derby. Like I said, that '73 Belmont is extraordinary. I don't expect to see anything like it again. (And don't get me started on how they did it in the movie... and how they completely screwed up Chick Anderson's iconic call... Ugh! Or, for that matter, how the Secretariat movie completely erased Riva Ridge!!)

 

I love your story there, isalicat! When I was deep into racing, I did all the homework and knew all the horses and the bloodlines and past performances and stuff. I went to the Breeder's Cup in 1988 as my father worked for Mobil at the time so he wrangled tickets so we could go and as the day went on, I'd be sitting with Dad and talking out my picks for the races and he'd go place bets on them, a group of guys started paying attention and then sitting with me and asking questions. My Dad was all 'Yeah, this is what they do. They drop 10K on a race and they're listening to you.' I was 16 and far too sheltered to think about what that actually meant. I was just sitting there sharing my love of horses... with guys who were probably in the mob.

 

But, hey, I saw Alysheba win that night under the lights. I saw Easy Goer lose the first time at Churchill Downs (he did not like that race course) though it did nothing to dim my love for him. I saw Personal Ensign come from way back to somehow manage to beat Goodbye Halo and Winning Colors in the Distaff to keep her record pristine. Those are all such amazing memories... and, yes, I screamed my lungs off for Personal Ensign. Part of me still can't believe she managed to pull that off, I thought she was well and truly beaten that day but I've never lost my shit the way I did on Saturday when I realized American Pharoah was going to be a Triple Crown winner.

 

Suddenly, all of those decades of love and passion I had for this sport and these animals were utterly worth it. I mean, when you see something amazing happen... that's just how it works.

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I hope American Pharoah is kicking back with a bag of feed and a mare.  He deserves it.

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Okay, I have to confess, I was rooting for American Pharoah to lose, mainly because I liked saying that I'd picked the last horse to win the Triple Crown (because the jockey was cute, lol) and I hadn't picked AP to win the Derby.*  But that was one hell of a race to watch, and there certainly can't be any doubt about the best horse winning.  Plus, it'll shut up all those people, who clearly have no idea that the three races are separate and distinct entities and not one monolithic event, who complained about it not being fair to let some horses only run in the Belmont.  It definitely proved that if a horse was good enough and had the right form on the right day, nothing else mattered, since the only horse to run all three races actually won.

 

* Also partly because I didn't really like the name.  Yeah, I'm that person who picks horses based on cute jockeys and great names.  But hey, that got me one Triple Crown winner and at least one impressive Belmont winner - Conquistador Cielo, who won the Belmont six days after setting a track record in the Metropolitan Handicap.  Still breaks my heart that Timely Writer missed the TC due to illness and then broke his leg in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and had to be put down; that's probably my favorite horse name ever.

Edited by proserpina65
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Aw man...this is terrible.

 

Danzig Moon - he came in fifth at this year's Kentucky Derby - broke his leg running a race at Woodbine Race Track (here in Toronto) and had to put down. So sad and poor baby. Another Link.

 

I've never really managed to get a good answer to this - maybe someone here can provide it - why does no one try to rehabilitate these horses, instead simply killing them. It breaks my heart. I am sure money is the major reason, which angers me to no end. But I read somewhere that when a horse breaks their leg, because of how light and thin the bones are, the bone will shatter and irreparably bend and becomes hard to heal and causes other complications.

 

Anyone have a better explanation? Again, poor baby....Here is Woodbine's own news release. Nice and coldly written, Woodbine. *shakeshead*

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So glad to see a thread for this. I was searching on the 6th and couldn't find anything. Just loved watching American Pharoah win the triple crown. I couldn't believe how much I was screaming and clapping and I had no money on the race.

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There have been many attempts to save horses over the years after an injury. It's NOT an easy thing to in the best of circumstances. If it's possible they do try but they are large animals and they are running and the bones in the legs are not just delicate but also there's many of them and the tissue trauma is just as much of a problem as well. Also, horses need to keep moving which makes recovery difficult and healing is a delicate process as well... they are susceptible to infections like laminitis that endangers their lives as well. And a lot of the time, they come out of anesthesia poorly. That's what ultimately doomed Ruffian. She thrashed and fought when she was coming too and undid everything they had tried to do during surgery.

 

For the most part, I think most people would prefer to save the horses if for no other reason than breeding purposes if they can no longer race but, again, it's a very difficult thing to do. It's not that they go 'Well... he broke is leg. Shoot him.' It's far more complicated than that and, frankly, it's one the reasons I really can't watch live races anymore (the last mile of the Belmont was a fluke.) I've just seen it too many times and it's heartbreaking.

 

But there have been success stories. Hoist the Flag was an early one. Personal Ensign broke her leg as a youngster and they were able to save her and she raced afterwards... unbeaten even. It's just a difficult process and often the damage is too severe there on the track to do anything but put them down in the most humane way possible.

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they are susceptible to infections like laminitis that endangers their lives as well.

 

That was what doomed Barbaro.  He managed to survive for 8 months after breaking his leg in the Preakness, and had more than one surgery on the broken bones, but he developed laminitis in the other three legs, and the owners made the decision to have him put down humanely rather than keep him in constant pain with little hope of recovery.  Sometimes euthanasia really is the kindest option, unfortunately.

 

I live not far from the Fair Hill Training Center, where Barbaro was trained, and the press here covered nearly every moment of the attempt to save him in great detail.  It really was very sad.

Edited by proserpina65

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That was such a shame about Barbaro.  I know next to nothing about horses, but I remember that when he broke out of the gate, he didn't look right to me and others who were watching the race; he looked like he didn't want to go and he sort of bucked a tiny bit or something.  He just didn't look right.  I kept thinking "he doesn't want to run" and so, sadly, I wasn't all that surprised to find out he was hurt.   

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It's almost Derby time.

Louisville turns into a crazy place for two weeks. The Oaks runs on Friday and Saturday is all day racing......

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All I can say is "How the hell did it get to be the first Saturday in May already?"     Seriously, this one snuck up on me.

 

Not expecting a repeat of American Pharoah's performance last year.   That was a once in a lifetime experience.   But sure hope we don't go so long between Triple Crown winners again.

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Nyquist is the fave tomorrow.

I forgot about the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, too. Debauchery, drunkenness and drop some money on the ponies Nothing but losers today.

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Jesus Cristo.

Johnny weir is one of the most obnoxious idiots on TV. I have always wondered what he has on the execs of NBC that keep him as an on air commentator. And what is worse? The other commentators that act as if there is nothing wrong with the way he dresses - wear a hat - don't dress up like a cartoon.

I watched him skate and the obsession with the clothing and poor sportsmanship when he got his ass kicked just made him that much more pathetic, He really is a loser.

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I like Johnny in all his weirdness, but I can see how he'd get on someone else's nerves though.  Although I think he and Tara are more suited to skating competitions and the Olympics, not the Derby.

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The weird hats were cute at first.  But they can get old real fast.   I think we are entering that territory.   In a couple of years it will be "Oh good god, what is he doing NOW?"  

Nice race.   The sudden rain threw everyone for a loop.   Feel badly for the horse that fell and hurt himself before the previous race.

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I like Nyquist. If he wins the triple crown, he would be a deserving champion. My favorite this year is Exaggerator, but for whatever reason he can't seem to catch Nyquist.  This may end up being one of those Affirmed/Alydar situations, which would be really exciting if it does.

By the way, the last three years now, I've decided to key a non-favorite in the derby (this year Exaggerator) on top of four other horses (including the favorite) for my annual trifecta bet.  And for three years in a row, the favorite won.

And for three years in a row I've got the right three horses in my trifecta, but in the wrong order.

I guess I'm okay with this, since a true $1 triple box with 5 horses is $60, and that bet would have paid about $63 this year, so what's the point?  If my $2, $24 bet had hit, it would have paid about $200 give or take and that was would have been with the three betting favorites in the top three. If any of my longer shots had loped up (I had the 4th place horse too, ::shakes fist::) it would have been even better.  Oh well.

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I'm really clueless when it comes to this sport. But, I'm not missing it like I did last year. All the pretty horsies! But the rain does make it more difficult and dangerous, no?

I find myself grumblng whenever the casters pull away from the horsies to focus on people. I don't care about the humans! I want to see the horsies! Beause I love them, and don't know when I'll be able to go horse back riding again.

If that makes me shallow, then, I proudly wear that mantle. Nyquist and Exaggerator are so very very pretty. I love their coloring.

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Two horses died on the track in earlier races today.  That track must really be bad.

Congratulations to Exaggerator and the Desormeaux brothers.

Edited by Rick Kitchen

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How weird are Mr. Roamyn & I that we were actively cheering for Exxagerator?

We have nothing against Nyquist, in fact, we rooted for him in the Derby.  I just think the lack of training/races on a wet track & the fact Nyquist seemed to be pushed too hard went against him.

I have to think Exxagerator is the favourite for the Belmont.  He's a long range horse.

My condolences to the families of the 4yr old & 9yr old that lost their lives today.

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I feel kind of bad for the folks at Belmont after the Preakness, because the winners are usually split between the KY Derby and the Preakness.  Oh well, I guess they had fun last year when American Pharoah won it all.

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I picked Fast and Accurate for my Derby party.

And yes, I always pick the grey horse, I'm all about the grey horse.

Alas, per usual there is five bucks I'll never see again....

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7 hours ago, bosawks said:

I picked Fast and Accurate for my Derby party.

And yes, I always pick the grey horse, I'm all about the grey horse.

Alas, per usual there is five bucks I'll never see again....

Yep, I always put some money on a gray horse.  I do choose one with better odds, too! 

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I just watched the Preakness, I always try to watch the Triple Crown races. I'm glad Justified won. One of the announcers said that he did not look as impressive as American Pharoah. I agree with that, I think. I wonder how much Justified had at the end of this race today. The Belmont is a bit longer I think, but more time to rest.

Very glad no one was hurt either today or in the Derby, the Derby in particular was a bit scary. But the fog today was not great either.

I was a horse crazy kid, though the closest got was to horses in books. I guess I watch in memory of that but the big business element is both obvious and irritating. 

Weird seeing Belinda Stronach say Riders up. Failed conservative Canadian politician, business and wealthy family. Seemed very out of place, but I can't be bothered to look up the connection.

I saw AP win the Triple Crown, will be cool if Justified can do it.

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I always feel bad for the Belmont Stakes people when the Derby winner fails to win the Preakness, because I'm sure it's a downer knowing they won't be the third leg of the Triple Crown.  (I also wonder how much attendance decreases when that happens. )  So now, with Justify winning the Preakness, at least there's that anticipation.

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I'm watching the Belmont Stakes coverage and I find it interesting and somewhat frustrating that there has been no mention of the fact that it is the 45th anniversary of Secretariat's record breaking win of the Belmont clinching his win of the 1973 triple crown.  The only mention I've seen was a brief mention when talking about the #1 post position.  There was that Chazz Palmentiri narrated blurb that showed the Secretariat statue but nothing else.  I can't help but think that since ABC and Disney owned the movie, they're avoiding the mention of any other horse besides American Pharoah.  I'm also tired of Bob Baffert being shoved in my face every 5 minutes.  I'd rather hear about the horses running (the others besides Justify) than a what seems like a non-stop Bob Baffert commentary.  Its almost enough for me to root for any horse besides Justify.  

Edited by Linderhill · Reason: Finally, an actual mention and showing of the win.
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If Justify does win he will be the (lucky) 13th winner of the Triple Crown. 

I understand the hype for him to win it but I too am interested in the other horses and their stories. 

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It's great to see another Triple Crown Winner in four years. Congrats to Justify and his team. And I think it's kind of amusing that the horse named Gronkowski finished 2nd. That horse did a nice job of moving up in the pack after being last.

Edited by Jx223
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He made it look easy. I was really impressed. I also like to hear more about the other horses running. 

It would also be neat to spend time learning about the other Triple Crown winners, I like the history, but I suppose some of it is probably on Youtube.

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2 minutes ago, bosawks said:

Wow, wire to wire, that’s impressive.

American Pharoah did the same. It’s a smart move. No one can box you in and you can set the pace.

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