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    Last Saturday Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner American Pharoah made history when he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) and became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Although 13 others since Affirmed’s Triple Crown win in 1978 had gotten close, the elusive Triple Crown continued to prove unattainable to all but a select group of 11 very special horses. Now Ahmed Zayat’s American Pharoah has added his name to the exclusive list.

    For a generation of race fans, the Triple Crown was this collection of historical events retold each Derby season with the fading promise that one day you too might witness a horse with such greatness. For those not around in the 1970s or too little at the time to care, seeing a Triple Crown was like Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch to see the Great Pumpkin—ever hopeful that one day he’d come, never discouraged when he didn’t.

    American Pharoah rewarded all when he kicked home to a 5 ½ length win over his nearest rival to win last Saturday’s Belmont Stakes and capture the Triple Crown. In the days since, trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Victor Espinoza and owner Ahmed Zayat have appeared on the Today Show and ESPN, among others. Espinoza even made an appearance on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Tuesday night where he won the “Tonight Show Quadruple Crown Derby” and then showed up on the CMT Music Awards. Espinoza and American Pharoah crossing the Belmont finish line is the cover photo on Sports Illustrated this week; the first time a horse has adorned the cover since Mine That Bird in 2009. It was announced Wednesday that the horse was chosen as the cover model for Vogue’s next issue. The Triple Crown winner and his connections are everywhere, and you have a chance to see them in person yourself Saturday night.

    Saturday night, as part of the Churchill Downs Stephen Foster Downs After Dark program, American Pharoah will be paraded before fans around 8 p.m., after the fifth race. He’ll remain in the paddock during the running of the Regret Stakes (G3), first of four stakes on the Saturday night card. Owner Ahmed Zayat and family, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza will also be on hand and will accept their engraved Kentucky Derby trophies at a presentation in the new G.H. Mumm Winner’s Circle after the sixth race.

    In addition to seeing the Triple Crown winner and his connections, the first 5,000 fans through the gates will receive a free print of Courier-Journal photographer Michael Clevenger’s soon-to-be iconic shot of American Pharoah winning the Belmont Stakes with Espinoza looking back at the field 5 ½ lengths away. The engraved Kentucky Derby trophies and, yet to be engraved, Triple Crown trophy, will be on display in the Paddock Plaza area for fans to take their own photos with from 5-7 p.m.

    Saturday’s 11-race card includes the Regret (G3), Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2), Stephen Foster (G1) and Matt Winn (G3). Admission is $10 and the theme for the Downs After Dark card is “White Party” for which fans are encouraged to dress in white. Gates open at 5 p.m. with a first post of 6 p.m.

    Photo: Adam Creech

    Jessie Oswald's picture

    About Jessie Oswald

    I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as a paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!

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