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American Pharoah becomes first Triple Crown winner since '78

American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown when he won the 147th Belmont Stakes on Saturday. 

Jockey Victor Espinoza pushed Pharoah to the front soon after the race started, and Pharoah outclassed the field, pulling away down the stretch to make history. Frosted finished second, and Keen Ice rounded out the top three.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion, American Pharoah began Saturday as a 3-to-5 favorite in the morning betting line, and those were the odds when the race began. He started from the fifth position in a field of eight.

American Pharoah becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, beginning with Sir Barton in 1919 and most recently Affirmed in 1978. After Affirmed's Triple Crown win, 12 horses won the first two legs of the Triple, only to lose the bid at the Belmont, either because of an upset or because they did not start or complete the race.

Espinoza rode American Pharoah during this year's Triple Crown races. It was the second straight year that Espinoza went to Belmont with a chance at the mark; he was the jockey of California Chrome a year ago. Espinoza also rode War Emblem to the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002 before finishing eighth at Belmont. 

For American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, Saturday marked his fourth shot at the Triple Crown. He also trained Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem, teaming with Espinoza for that attempt.

American Pharoah is owned by Zayat Stables, which is headed by Ahmed Zayat. Pharoah was bred by the stable and was born in February 2012 in Lexington, Ky. Pharoah is the son of Pioneerof the Nile, who finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Ahmed Zayat said before the Belmont that American Pharoah likely would retire at the end of 2015. Zayat also announced that Pharoah would stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky, from which he fetched an undisclosed stud fee that, Zayat announced, would escalate based on performance. Justin Zayat, son of Ahmed Zayat, told ESPN in May that the stable rejected offers of more than $20 million from breeding farms.

Pharoah, a bay colt with a white star on his forehead, outraced Firing Line and Dortmund, among others, to win the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 2. Two weeks later, Pharoah outclassed a field that again included Dortmund and Mr. Z to win 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes on a sloppy course after a heavy rainstorm. The Belmont Stakes, at 1 1/2 miles, is longer than either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown and is thus known as the "Test of the Champion." Pharoah entered Saturday with more than $3.7 million in career earnings; the Belmont pays out a purse of $800,000 to race winners.

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