ARCADIA (CNS) – American Pharoah — who made history three weeks ago by winning the first Triple Crown in 37 years — was paraded Saturday, June 27 before thousands of fans at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
The 3-year-old Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont winner, brought back to Santa Anita with a police escort last week, was taken to the track’s paddock and walking ring at about 4:30 p.m. As the song, “New York, New York” was played to note his crown- clinching victory in New York’s Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah was led on the track, escorted into the winners’ circle for photographs and walked the length of the stretch to his barn in front of an adoring crowd.
“It’s good to see the fans out to see this horse, because it’s amazing how some of these fans want to get a close look at him,” Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert said. “I think he was just a sparkle in everybody’s life that day by winning that race. “To me, I didn’t realize how monumental it was until (the Triple Crown) happened,” Baffert said. “(I was) really lucky, blessed to have a horse like this.”
Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza described the whirlwind of attention that followed the win as unforgettable.
“It’s amazing how many people were waiting for a Triple Crown,” Espinoza said. “It’s one thing that I will never forget; an experience for me as a jockey. I never thought I would be in this position.”
Santa Anita’s chairman, Keith Brackpool, thanked the colt’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, and Baffert for “being so incredibly generous in sharing this horse with fans from coast to coast.”
Track officials handed out T-shirts featuring American Pharoah to members of its Santa Anita Thoroughbred Club.
The racing phenom made the cover of Sports Illustrated after his 5 1/2- length win June 6 in the Belmont, the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown at 1 1/2 miles, and he, Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza have been media darlings ever since.
Even as he was heading into the Derby, hopes were high for the bay colt, who sports earplugs during races and a shorter-than-usual tail rumored to have been nipped off by another colt.
Pharoah won the award for top 2-year-old male for his 2014 campaign, which included a victory at Santa Anita in the FrontRunner stakes last September when Baffert said the colt showed “a lot of brilliance.”
For weeks, he has been ranked the top 3-year-old and took over the top of the rankings for top horse in the country following his win in the Belmont Stakes.