On an idyllic Saturday evening at Belmont Park, American Pharoah made it worth the 37-year wait. Under a perfectly calculated ride by Victor Espinoza, the son of Pioneerof the Nile led the field from start to finish in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, drawing away in the stretch to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and end a drought that had seen the hopes of 13 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners end in disappointment. The milestone victory in the 147th 'Test of the Champion' was sweet redemption for the colt's connections, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Espinoza, as the pair had accumulated five failed Triple Crown bids between them.
Ahmed Zayat first entered thoroughbred racing in 2005, and in one decade, has amassed some of the most prominent successes in the industry. Since 2005, Zayat Stables has ranked among the top five owners in North America seven times, including #1 in 2008 and 2015. They have also been the leading owner at some of North America's most prestigious race meets, including Del Mar and Saratoga. Zayat Stables was honored to win their first Eclipse Award in 2014 and their first Classic races in 2015, with homebred champion American Pharoah.
After rising to the top in the Quarter Horse game, Bob decided to become a full time Thoroughbred trainer. Bob Baffert thus became the first person in the history of Thoroughbred racing to train Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners in back-to-back years. In 2010, Baffert notched his record-tying fifth Preakness win with Lookin At Lucky, the champion 2-year-old a year prior who redeemed himself in the second jewel of the Triple Crown after troubled trips cost him as the favorite in both the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby his two starts prior. Baffert got his fourth Kentucky Derby, sixth Preakness, and second Belmont S. wins (tied for second-most Derby wins by a trainer) in 2015 when the brilliant American Pharoah became racing's 12th Triple Crown winner, breaking a drought that had stretched some 37 years. Bob Baffert has been voted the Eclipse Award as the sport’s outstanding trainer four times (1997, 1998, 1999 and 2015).
Victor Espinoza began riding in his native Mexico and went on to compete at racetracks in California. Espinoza became the first jockey in history to get three opportunities to win the Triple Crown and earned back-to-back wins with California Chrome and American Pharoah in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only the sixth jockey in history to do so. Espinoza became the first Latino jockey to win the Triple Crown, and, at age 43, the oldest.