But was he clipped coming out of the gate? Some sources say he clipped his own front right heel - others say the above photo appears to show Matterhorn clipping him…in the front right heel. This puts a whole different spin on the race – just the fact that he finished, let alone finished in a game run for fourth, is a courageous act.
These beautiful creatures have so much heart. Prayers and thoughts to California Chrome - hope he will be all right!
In 2002, I watched the Kentucky Derby for the first time and fell in love with a lean, mean, jet-black horse. Trained by Bob Baffert and with Victor Espinoza on his back, War Emblem swept the first two jewels of the Triple Crown like his feet were on fire. I was so invested in him that it hurt. After he lost the Belmont, my dad found me curled up under a blanket, sobbing that I would “never see a Triple Crown winner.”
Thirteen years and countless heartbreaks later, a strong, kind, transcendent animal, raw bay but for a kiss of white on his forehead, labored to win the Derby despite a long layoff and two preps. Trained by Bob Baffert and with Victor Espinoza on his back, this horse ran through the Triple Crown like he couldn’t believe it was his job, littering track after track with a circuit of perfect hoof prints. His first head-to-head challenge and a torrential downpour couldn’t stop him. And today, with ears forward and in some the fastest final fractions in Belmont history, he devoured the race that claimed thirteen challengers before him.
The 12th Triple Crown winner is named American Pharoah, and he is beautiful. He is perfect.
I am happy. I am happy for the horse, I am happy for me, I am happy for the fans, I am happy for the connections. I am happy for my sport, a sport that does not often truly get to be happy. Today is our day. Yes, yes, yes.
“That’s the thing about being a jockey — or anybody who’s in a dangerous sport — is that as long as you have a real passion for that thing that you’re doing, the fact that it’s dangerous sits in the back of your mind and not the front of your mind. If it starts to ride into the front of your mind, then it’s time to quit.”
June 13, 1937: War Admiral, a sound sleeper when the stakes were high, on the morning of his Triple Crown-clinching win at the Belmont Stakes. “War Admiral, winner of all his starts this year, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is fit and ready and is sure to rule an odds-on favorite,” reported The Times. Despite an injury on his back right heel, War Admiral beat his father’s track record at Belmont by a fifth of a second. Photo: The New York Times