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SoCal colt American Pharoah seeks first Triple Crown victory in 37 Years

White Carnations for the Belmont Stakes with Horseshoes on Wood (Thinkstock).
White Carnations for the Belmont Stakes with Horseshoes on Wood (Thinkstock).

The team behind Santa Anita Park-based American Pharoah is hoping history will be made today as the colt competes in the Belmont Stakes with a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

American Pharoah will try to accomplish what a dozen other Triple Crown contenders — most recently California Chrome last year — have failed to do since Affirmed won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in 1978.

The 3-year-old bay colt, who sports earplugs and a curiously short tail, boasts a nearly unblemished record. His only loss in seven races so far came last August at Del Mar in his first start, in which he finished fifth.

American Pharoah eventually captured the award for top 2-year-old male colt for his campaign last year. He’s since won races including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and has been ranked for weeks as the top 3-year-old.

A victory this weekend would surely be a career high point for American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, and jockey Victor Espinoza.

Baffert has brought three Triple Crown hopefuls — Silver Charm, Real Quiet and War Emblem — into the Belmont only to have his hopes dashed, while Espinoza is trying a third time to capture the elusive Triple Crown following losses with War Emblem and California Chrome.

“It’s just something I don’t think about,” Baffert said Wednesday. “I know how tough it is. I never get ahead of myself. … I think the horse is deserving of it, what he’s done this year. I think he’s an exciting horse to watch, he’s an exciting horse for me to train, the way he does things easily.”

The colt’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, called American Pharoah “the best moving horse I’ve ever seen.”

“I happen to think we’re coming in the best we could … I’m confident in the ability of American Pharoah,” Zayat said earlier this week, while noting  he believed this year’s crop of 3-year-olds is “unbelievably talented.”

American Pharoah, who was named the 3-5 morning line favorite, will go up against seven other horses in the $1.5 million Belmont. He’s beaten all of them at one point or another this year — Frosted, Materiality, Keen Ice, Mubtaahij and Frammento in the Kentucky Derby; Tale of Verve in the Preakness; and Madefromlucky in the Arkansas Derby.

“We’re going in with no excuses,” Zayat said. “It’s just, it’s an incredible feeling to go in confident that you have the horse to beat.”

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