Belmont Stakes

American Pharoah: Will He Win the Triple Crown?

American Pharoah - THE ARKANSAS DERBY 79th Running (Grade I) - 04-11-15 - R11 - OP - 002 - Photo credit: Oaklawn/Coady Photography

It’s been 37 years since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978.  The draught has been well documented for awhile now, but perhaps American Pharoah is the horse to finally get it done.  Doubters still remain, and bettors are lining up at the windows to wager against him.  Our advice is to ignore the haters who have picked against him from day one.  After all, have they pointed you in the right direction yet?  Didn’t think so!  Here are five sound reasons why he will be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, and here are also five reasons why he could be denied.

Five Reasons Why American Pharoah will Win the Triple Crown

1. Flexibility in Running Style

Want to go wire to wire?  Want to sit behind the speed?  No problem…just tell American Pharoah what to do and he’ll do it for you.  In the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park he won wire to wire, and then three weeks later in the Arkansas Derby he sat off the pace and dominated.  In Kentucky he sat off the pace once again, and then in Baltimore Victor urged him to the lead and he crushed the competition.  You can forget about a speed duel beating this horse!  If they go out and set crazy fractions he’ll simply tuck in behind them and relax.

2. Storm Before the Preakness

I never doubted for a second he’d win the Preakness, however I thought it would be a tough race on him with Firing Line and Dortmund being worthy challengers.  Then the skies opened up and the rain came pouring.  I immediately smiled as I knew American Pharoah had become a virtual lock at that point.  The slop threw the top contenders off their game, causing American Pharoah to all the sudden have an easy race.  The energy saved in the Preakness will no doubt be very beneficial in the Belmont.

3. Runs well on any Track Condition

Most of the time a sloppy track will make you nervous, but if it rains on June 6th it will only be beneficial.  For that matter, the weather will play zero factor in the outcome of this race as American Pharoah can run on anything.  Fast Dirt, Sloppy mud, and even synthetics…he’s won on them all.  Belmont certainly can play different that other dirt tracks, but it should have zero effect on American Pharoah.

4. Crops Best Horses are Better at Shorter Distances

As of now the top two contenders in the crop are Firing Line and Dortmund both of which are not suited to go a mile and half, and both of which are not pointing towards the Belmont Stakes.  That’s also a factor when it comes to the pace.  Both of these horses have enough early speed to lay close (or even ahead) of American Pharoah and stay within striking distance.  Their absence could end up becoming a tactical advantage for him.

5. Bob Baffert

Sure…he’s failed at winning the Triple Crown a couple of times, however he’s been closer than anyone has since 1978.  Silver Charm ran a great race in 1997 as he narrowly lost by a little less than a length.  With a horse this time that could be better than Silver Charm Baffert could turn the tables.  Is there any other trainer you’d be more confident in at this point?  He wins big races all around the country, and is widely known as one of the most successful trainers in the game.  His experience will get American Pharoah to the race in the best possible condition.

Five Reasons Why American Pharoah may not Win the Triple Crown

1. Three Races in Five Weeks

Stating the obvious with this one, but honestly it’s just that simple.  It’s often said that the distance gets a horse beat at Belmont, and that is true, but I would argue the lack of energy COMBINED with the distance is the biggest issue.  It’s hard for any horse at any level to win three races in five weeks!

2. Breeding on the Dam Side is “iffy”

Everyone knows the story of American Pharoah’s sire and grand sire.  Both of them proved that distance was no problem whatsoever.  What about the dam side?  It’s not quite as encouraging.  Mostly all sprint distance pedigrees, and not much brilliance there either.  However, a case could be made that American Pharoah has already out ran his pedigree to begin with.  Several pedigree “experts” thought he could not get the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby.

3. The Pletcher Team of Materiality, Madefromlucky, and Carpe Diem

Anytime a trainer of Pletcher’s caliber has three entries you need to be concerned.  Materiality is progressing rapidly and still might have not have found his ceiling yet.  Carpe Diem didn’t run his best race in the Kentucky Derby, but has shown tremendous ability.  Then there is Madefromlucky who does have a win over the Belmont track now, even though he’s been beaten badly by American Pharoah twice.  With three bullets in the chamber Pletcher may be able to dictate how the race is ran.  Dangerous…

4. Frosted

Even though Pletcher will have three horses entered it’s Frosted who might end up being the biggest threat.  Since his throat surgery he’s ran very well, but was really done in by a slow pace and wide trip in the Kentucky Derby.  The distance of the Belmont should be right up his alley now that he can breathe, and of course the five weeks rest will be beneficial to him.  You know he’ll be coming with a big run in the end.

5. Only Horse to Run in all Three Legs of the Triple Crown

Not only will American Pharoah run three races in five weeks, but none of his counter parts will have to accomplish such a feat.  No other horse in this years crop will attempt to run in all three races other than American Pharoah.  The last time only one horse competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown was 2012 when the often ran Optimizer tried his hand at all three.  Luckily for people rooting for a Triple Crown to happen…American Pharoah is a little more talented than Optimizer!

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