06/08/2015 2:51PM

Privman's Belmont Stakes analysis

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Barbara D. Livingston
American Pharoah became racing's 12th Triple Crown winner by taking the Belmont Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths Saturday.

Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 miles, Belmont Park, June 6, 2015
Winner: American Pharoah
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Owner: Zayat Stables LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 105

AMERICAN PHAROAH became the 12th Triple Crown winner, the first in 37 years, and only the fourth since Citation in 1948 with this dominating performance. He needed to gut out a victory in the Kentucky Derby, relished a sloppy track in the Preakness, and then, at the end of an ambitious campaign, left no doubt as to his superiority and deserving place in history with a 5 1/2-lenngth victory, his seventh straight, earned at six different racetracks.



American Pharoah was rocking back and forth in the starting gate just before the gate opened, and he got off half a step slowly, but jockey Victor Espinoza made the prudent move and sent American Pharoah to the front. When you’re on the best horse, you should dictate the way the race is run, and that is exactly what Espinoza did. American Pharoah was in front within a furlong of the start, and by the time the first quarter-mile was run, his ears were up, the sign of a comfortable, happy horse.

Espinoza always had a ton of horse under him, and American Pharoah clicked off successive quarter-miles in 24 seconds and change, one after another, a pace his rivals could not sustain.

American Pharoah was always going best, entered the stretch with a two-length lead, extended his margin in upper stretch, and then received a couple of mild backhanders from Espinoza midway through the stretch en route to the finish. He continued to gallop out well after the finish, as if the race – and the prior campaign – hadn’t taken everything out of him. Remarkable.


FROSTED, who finished second, actually outbroke American Pharoah – and everybody else – but then settled into third behind American Pharoah and MATERIALITY as the field entered the first turn. He raced between rivals and in some traffic around the turn and into the backstretch and dropped back to fifth midway through the race. He had to await room between horses when stuck behind Materiality with a half-mile to go, with jockey Joel Rosario forced to steady slightly, but then he slipped inside MUBTAAHIJ and came up the rail right behind American Pharoah with a quarter-mile to go.

Frosted got within two lengths of American Pharoah in upper stretch but could not stay with American Pharoah through the lane. He swapped to his left lead at midstretch, then soon corrected back to his right lead, and though he probably was getting tired from chasing American Pharoah, he did safely hold second. He ran well in the Derby, finishing fourth after being herded early and racing wide, and that followed his win in the Wood Memorial. He is a very good colt.



KEEN ICE, who finished third, broke last, advanced enough to wind up four paths wide entering the first turn, then stayed wide on the backstretch and found himself three and then four paths wide while moving around the far turn. He had been ridden fairly aggressively with four furlongs to go, but at the quarter pole, jockey Kent Desormeaux seemed to ride him more sympathetically. He dropped back to fifth nearing the top of the lane, then was steered widest of all by Desormeaux, who started riding with renewed fervor, and Keen Ice responded, closing well to finish third. Considering his trip and the lack of pace for a horse who is normally a deep closer, this was a good effort.

Mubtaahij, who finished fourth, followed American Pharoah into the first turn while inside Frosted. He remained on the rail until the far turn, where he drifted out to the 2 path to try to attack American Pharoah. He got within a length of American Pharoah nearing the quarter pole but could not keep pace through the lane while racing on his wrong lead and surrendered third in deep stretch to Keen Ice.

FRAMMENTO, who finished fifth, has no early speed and trailed around the first turn. He got on even terms with fellow straggler TALE OF VERVE while inside that rival at the back of the pack entering the backstretch, slipped through inside rivals on the far turn, tipped out to the 4 path entering the lane after advancing to fourth, but went one-paced through the lane.

MADEFROMLUCKY, who finished sixth, was angled outward in the run away from the gate and wound up three paths wide, in the second flight of horses, around the first turn and into the backstretch. He started to lose position down the backstretch and came under a ride with five furlongs to go, tried to rally while four paths wide on the far turn, but simply could not keep up.

Tale of Verve, who finished seventh, broke alertly but had no speed and was only in front of Frammento heading into the first turn while racing in the clear, a couple of lanes off the rail. He tried to advance while kept in the middle of the track down the backstretch but was initially outfooted by Madefromlucky and fell back to last with a half-mile to go. He had to steady slightly inside and behind the tiring Materiality nearing the quarter pole and was guided to the rail, but had no punch.

Materiality, who finished last of eight, was used a bit from his outside draw to be forwardly placed into the first turn and was closest to American Pharoah entering the backstretch after racing three paths wide on the first turn. He was just outside of American Pharoah, about a length behind, for much of the backstretch, began to lose ground with a half-mile remaining, had several rivals engulf him midway on the turn, then fell back to last by the time the field turned into the lane in a poor effort.

Bruce Garibotti More than 1 year ago
There wasn't a single TC nominated horse with early speed in the entire crop entered to press him just a tiny bit? On a souped up track, he is allowed to run the half in nearly 49 and goes on to run a mile one one-hundredth quicker than 1:38. Who is in charge of storing the silver platter? I give him credit but let's not compare him to Slew and the others until he is hooked and then has to fight off the stretch runners. The final time means little to nothing on a blazing fast track when a horse has absolutely everything his way. But like I always say, bet with both fists when he comes back and faces hickory.
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
His time was faster than " Slew and others"
MrRossss More than 1 year ago
Critics man, if he would've lost that race, everyone would've been like he's not that great, or the track was deep. But when he wins, everyone will look for ways to undermine what he did. Unbelievable.
Vic Bullock More than 1 year ago
The only article not on drf+, mighty big of Crist ! A piece of junk like Keen Ice got grade I placed, move him up ten K as sire. John Longden if were alive," Count Fleet pull another horse and beat either one of 'em,( secretariat or American pharaoh)" >>>the Pumper
Barry Morrison More than 1 year ago
While we'll have to see if Shared Belief makes it back as good as he was early in the year, what a race the Breeders Cup Classic could be with American Pharoah, Shared Belief, Honor Code and Tonalist. This is the kind of matchup that makes racing at the highest level so intriguing.
Vic Bullock More than 1 year ago
Amer Phar won't run now, what would be the point, has HoY socked away, Bob B says he will, just to keep ya interested, lets wait until Oct. My guess Haskell/Travers/BREED
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
And Bayern? He took several races to hit his stride last year and he will probably do so again this year. If he gets good again, the only question is whether Bob will run him against AP. After all, his 1:58 and change is faster than any of the horses you mentioned. That's true racehorse time.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
Jay, thanks for describing the race positions plus the chart comments, but you have not added much of value, in the three days since the race. Expected more from your column, sorry to say.
Eli Dawkins More than 1 year ago
I have been saying it from the Derby triple crown all the way this is a special horse. Once again Fletcher horses fail I threw both out and had field day with the exacta super tri
Mike Knox More than 1 year ago
Who's your jockey?! Victor!
Maya Joffe More than 1 year ago
He has a fitting name for the race...Victor...
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
Horses coming out of the Florida Derby were 0 for 13 since that race. Materiality was never a threat to end that streak. Wiseguys thought he would be the one to pressure American Pharoah for the lead, but that never happened. He couldn't catch AP, who was strictly on cruise control the entire race. Materiality was in chase mode, and ended up being virtually eased in the stretch. So much for the big Beyer numbers "earned" by horses running in the unbelievably slow Florida Derby. Andrew Beyer and company can make-up any number they want following a race, but that's all it is, a made-up number. It won't help a horse run any faster in later races. All hail American Pharoah, who won with authority, and who looked like he could have gone around the big track again.
john g More than 1 year ago
Yea, it seems every year the Gulfstream horses beyer figures are exaggerated quite a bit. I think I've finally learned my lesson with them.
Victor Cravin More than 1 year ago
I said the same thing. All you had to do was look at the internal fractions between the Florida Derby and the Arkansas Derby. That would've told you right there that Materiality couldn't keep pace with AP.
jaefeathered More than 1 year ago
Materiality was scoped after the Belmont. He and Madefromlucky were both sick during the race, so they shouldn't be faulted for their poor performances.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
oh boy
Carson Horton More than 1 year ago
Talk about a key race.....look for any horse coming out of the Belmont who was anywhere close to AP during the running to be double tough the next time they start. Unfortunately due to the small Belmont field size any such horses are likely to be very short prices, even ones like Keen Ice and Frammento but most of them should be solid win candidates if their connections place them properly. Mubtaahij should destroy the next field he faces as should Frosted, Keen Ice, Materiality and Madefromlucky, unless they square off against each other. In which case my money is on Mubtaahij. The jury is still out on Frammento but depending on where Zito decides to run him next, he could also be very tough in the lane.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
You are being a little too kind praising the also rans, the jury is still out on this deep, talented crop of the decade. They will surely win again but only in carefully chosen spots following extensive rehab and layoffs. I feel that Frosted, Mubtaahij are serious horses, the rest of the crop may develop later this year but in reality, plodders and milers only, not classic contenders on the track, where and when it counted. Perhaps one or two will succeed in the breeding shed. Half of the Belmont starters did not belong frankly. Like the previous years, this crop is neither that talented and it is certainly not deep. There have been excellent horses each year but few and far between, imo. American Pharoah is a genuine star and given decades of waiting thru sub-par crops, he is a welcome and worthy champion.
Emerson Dunn More than 1 year ago
What a horse, i am impressed and wonder how Beyer gave him only 105 when he came home in 24 and 3 and won drawing off?????????? This horse makes you proud to be a horse racing fan, showing like this, when Zenyatta won the breeders cup and Affirmed Alydar match races and Secretariats Belmont win is what makes us love this sport the memories, Congrats to all connections and what a beautiful animal he made everyone connected look good lol
Jerry Buffington More than 1 year ago
It's hard for beyer to hand out compliments to AP for being able to do things beyer said he couldn't do..
Joe Ambrose More than 1 year ago
He got to 6F in 1:13 and change, what Beyer would you give that?
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
The race was 1 ½ miles; this wasn't a sprint, but the longest distance they travel on dirt. American Pharoah’s 2:26+ time was one of the fastest Belmont’s run compared to the 11 other Triple Crown winners. Beyer gave a 110 Beyer to Materiality in the Florida race. That one Beyer is what put Materiality among the top 3-year olds; but it appears to be an overrated performance. Materiality battled with Upstart, in the negative key race. Beyer and company wield maybe too much influence through his numbers. They have not as much to do greatness. For the top echelon horses, you need to view performance from many angles, not just number/figures. If one of his favorite East Coast-based horses wins, with the pedigree he prefers, the horse gets the door prize. Remember his trashing of California Chrome, as he was wining one Triple Crown race after the other. He had to acknowledge American Pharoah, because he won the Triple Crown. But he still has the need to qualify or put a negative spin, even on A.P.’s Belmont. To over-emphasize speed is good maybe for quarter-horse racing.
john g More than 1 year ago
Just as discussed above, I think the Gulfstream park beyer numbers are and have been very exaggerated. I'm done paying any attention to the numbers from GP.
Carson Horton More than 1 year ago
Beyer didn't give him anything. There is a staff at the DRF that generates the BSF...Beyer doesn't have anything to do with it other than being credited with being the "inventor" of the speed figure which carries his name...A much more reliable source of speed figures are the B.R.I.S. past performances. Computer generated and based on a much larger database of empirical data.
john g More than 1 year ago
its a guessing game either way?
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
In the grade2 brooklyn (same distance, same day, same track) an allowance horse was challenged throughout and closed faster than pharoah in a similar time. Pletcher let AP have a lone wolf, slow pace lead. Frontrunners were king in dirt races over a mile on the dirt that day.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
In the Belmont other front runners like Materiality couldn't last, even at the slower earlier fractions. As Privmann says, American Pharoah was superior to the other three year olds. He has the speed and stamina to control the race, as he has in all his other races. The ones that have their horses lose for some reason have a reason to quality the effort. Pletcher may have let AP be the lone runner but his horse still couldn't last and was finished pretty quickly. Had he "allowed" Materiality to go with AP, Materiality would have been through sooner. So the others most likely were always running for second, since they knew they could not run with/take head-on AP.
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Pletchers frontrunners run horribly in triple crown races. So you are telling us that coach inge is a special horse. Untapable got blown away by a frontrunner. Dallas stewart once again brings in a huge longshot to show how weak the crop has been for three straight years.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Your points are not clear. Bringing up anecdotal examples doesn't work for the Belmont Triple Crown race. It didn't matter if American Pharoah ran from the front or stalked. He still would have dominated this group. Remember before they put AP in with all the others in the Triple Crown races, including Pletcher's horses, this was touted as one of the stronger groups. It may be a strong group; but all that does is show the superiority of American Pharoah. AP, like the great ones, broke the mold. He was lightly raced, did not train at Belmont, and had the pedigree that disproves the half-baked theories of people like A. Beyer and, along with recent races, like California Chrome's Triple Crown races, further erodes the dosage believers, with their theories on stamina.
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
Pletcher didn't let American Pharoah have anything. His horse couldn't keep up. Watch the replay. Around the turn and coming into the backstretch Johnny V is urging the horse just to stay close, while Victor has a short, tight hold on AP. Materiality could only chase, and then get eased in the stretch.
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Materiality's half mile paces were much quicker on a deeper gulfstream track. Even ron ellis said they were galloping in the belmont.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Have you seen A. Beyer hawk his speed-based system, whenever he appears on t.v. or writes articles. He may not do the churning of numbers or typing but he certainly is advocating for his approach to horse racing, which is to a great extent speed-driven and often focuses on pedigree, two archaic ways of measuring talent and greatness in 2015.
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
It looked like he galloped out another quarter of a mile! Hard to believe he had that much left, and he didn't look like he was blowing at all. Amazing. Hope we get to see him in at least 3 more races, including the Breeders Cup. Who is his competition among older horses?
Emerson Dunn More than 1 year ago
Hi Ann Honor Code from what i saw earlier and they were really high on this horse last year too.
Jeff Wilson More than 1 year ago
Honor Code is a one turn horse.
john g More than 1 year ago
yes, more of a sprinter. at his limit the other day.
Paul McAleavey More than 1 year ago
I expect three races.sad for a billionaire who bred the horse to sell him
Michael Marceda More than 1 year ago
Not s billionaire.
john g More than 1 year ago
I'm just tickled that he is running him at all. Many owners would have sent him straight to the breeding shed.
davidabel14 More than 1 year ago
Realistically, he could see Shared Belief (depending on his recovery), California Chrome, Honor Code, Tonalist, Constitution, Lea, etc. If Bayern can find a way to run back successfully, his name can be thrown in the hat.... as well as Moreno. I'm sure we also haven't seen the end of Dortmund, Firing Line or some other top 3 year olds
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
All you need is a crystal ball.