1496 Sport of Kings, Sport of Pharaohs and Pharoahs
(ELMONT NY) -- It was only a horserace. But what a race and what a horse.
On a warm spring evening two days ago, a horse that gleams in the fading sun, American Pharoah, did what had been done only eleven times before: won the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness and then the Belmont and thus the Triple Crown. It had been 37 years since that had happened.
And over those 37 years, we’ve seen some beautiful and able horses try and fail what Sir Barton started in 1919.
There’s scarce little in the animal kingdom to match the grace and power of a three year old running an oval. But Belmont is a killer.
The Kentucky Derby’s Churchill Downs is a mile and a quarter. The Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore is one and 3/16ths. Belmont is a mile and a half.
Usually, horses that run in all three races are a bit tired after the first two and you can almost hear them think “What’s this? We’re not done yet?” Many horses have no experience with an oval that long.
The Triple Crown is the World Series and the Superbowl and the U.S. Open and the Masters Tournament all rolled up into under three minutes. Owner, trainer, jockey and horse.
Jockey Victor Espinoza is no stranger to the winners circle. At 43, he has a list as long as both his arms. And he’s ridden some of the best of the best: California Chrome, Tin Man, Behaving Badly and now American Pharoah.
He donates 10% of his win money to City of Hope where they fight kids’ cancer. And he’ll give 100% of Saturday’s take to the group.
Bob Baffert, with snow white hair but the smile of a teenager at age 53 has trained winners at four Derbys, the Preakness six times and the Belmont twice.
Owner Ahmed Zayet is a wild man with plenty of wins along with plenty of lawsuits and, apparently, a gambling problem. There are some bad loans to settle, but his spirit matches that of his horse. Zayat made his fortune in an unlikely way: making and selling beer in Egypt. He’s not just any breeder.
So an orthodox Jew -- among those not chased out by the pharaohs of biblical times or their successors over the millennia -- ends the 37 year old absence of the Triple Crown.
Shrapnel (Beating the Bushes edition):
--Can you trust anything anyone from this family says, ever? How about “Read my lips, no new taxes”? Or “Mission accomplished.”
--Even mama Barbara -- the only one of them with a real brain -- isn’t exempt. First she said there were enough president Bushes (Or was it presidents Bush?) Now she says “vote for Jeb.”
--And there’s Jeb who is already trying to game the system by raising campaign funds before he raises a campaign organization. Just a technicality, of course. But there are too many weapons of mass technicality among these shifty tree sloths.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015