American Pharoah is one win from becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978. The 36-year drought is the longest since the first Triple Crown winner in 1919. The previous long was 24 years from 1948 to 1973, when Secretariat won.
American Pharoah is the 13th horse to run in the Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown since 1978. California Chrome finished fourth at the Belmont Stakes with a shot at the Triple Crown last year.
No Triple Crown winner has beaten more than seven horses in the Belmont to win the Triple Crown. In 1977, Seattle Slew beat seven horses, as did Citation in 1948. On average, the 11 previous Triple Crown winners had to beat four horses in the Belmont. American Pharoah is slated to face seven rivals Saturday.
There have been eight odds-on favorites since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown as an odds-on favorite. None of those eight odds-on favorites (less than 1-to-1) has won.
Being the favorite hardly means a guaranteed victory. Only three times in the past 21 years has the favorite won the Belmont. In that same span, the Belmont favorite has finished sixth or worse eight times.
Victor Espinoza, born in Veracruz, Mexico, can become the first Hispanic jockey to win the Triple Crown. Six of the past eight Triple Crown races have been won by Espinoza (four) or Joel Rosario (two).
This is trainer Bob Baffert’s fourth chance to win the Triple Crown. His horses have finished second, second and eighth in his previous three attempts.
The past six Belmont Stakes run with a Triple Crown at stake have been won by a newcomer to the Triple Crown trail or a horse who ran in the Kentucky Derby, then skipped the Preakness before running in the Belmont.
There has never been a Triple Crown won on June 6. However, four Triple Crown hopefuls in history saw their quest end in a Belmont run on June 6.