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I have learned that you are not really prepared for this.
Able to process it, understand the moment. Inured over 37 years that it will not happen. Armored against it, the disappointment. Smarty Jones did that to me.
Then it happened.
American Pharoah took a highly entertaining two minutes, 26 and three-fifths seconds to win a race, and to chisel his name on the tablets of history.
Victor Espinoza did his job, to be sure, but to me, it was all about the horse. Funkingly out of the gate, finding his legs, or whatever, 'Pharoah gathered it, took the lead, and never looked back.
As a possibility I dared broach, 'Pharoah quickly earned the lead and, like Seabiscuit launching his goat, tossed all challengers aside as he owned the stretch, the final furlong, the final eighth, the wire. I love you all, but not today, friends.
In logical, good, and nice fractions of 24.06, 48.83 and 1:13.41 for the first three quarters, 'Pharoah was the picture of consistency.
Materiality tried, but it wasn't there. Mubtaahij tried. Frosted showed, Keen Ice placed. That part of it was all to form. But American Pharoah was running away from them in his quest for the wire. He paid $3.50, $2.80 and $2.50, not too bad really. I didn't have him, but I'm not upset in any way.
Espinoza said 'Pharoah was backed up, on his rear heels when the gate opened. Thus the start. "Within two jumps, I was right in the lead," Espinoza said in the horseback interview with Donna Barton Brothers. Brothers to his right, outrider to his left, American Pharoah wasn't even breathing hard; no sweat foam. Doing, I think, what he's used to doing.
People who make moral judgements about others are usually going the wrong way. I'm not a huge fan of the owners Zayat, but they have invested themselves in this game. They're triers, sticking with it. They bred this horse, but they didn't make this horse. Nobody ever does. But they've worked hard at it and found themselves with a special animal. They treated him right, let him be himself.
Don't know, but old man Ahmed Zayat seemed the happy victor in a big race. I think it settles in like a ton of bricks later. Son Justin Zayat, manager of the stables, was clearly overwhelmed. What a thing to happen! They're caretakers of the legend now. They have a huge responsibility. Call Ms. Chenery, she can help.
Trainer Bob Baffert looked shaken. You could tell he knew just how important this all was, the full weight. Historical perspective. Bigger than him, although his name is all over it. A lot of people don't like him, but he's never done anything wrong by me. I dig the smart ass in people. Subtle. Wry. Pointed. He has the expertise to train and manage this horse. He has been achieving at a very high level for a long time. He got his start with the quarter horses in New Mexico. He's earned it.
I just hope we see American Pharoah run again. He's good; very good. If he recovers from this as he has shown he is capable of doing, why not take on more? Let him have fun. Thump 'em.
I'm still processing it too. I know enough of what I know to appreciate it, and that's a great feeling.
Just watched it again, and the chills are very reassuring.
Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.