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Belmont Win Makes American Pharoah The First Triple Crown Winner In 37 Years

The 3-year-old American Thoroughbred was undefeated this year. The Triple Crown — awarded to the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes — was last won by Affirmed in 1978.

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American Pharoah has become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, after coming in first at Saturday's Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.

He was the favorite to win the race, with 3-5 odds. In the final stretch, he had the lead by two lengths.

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The thoroughbred is owned by Ahmed Zayat, trained by racing Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, and was ridden Saturday by 43-year-old jockey Victor Espinoza.

Espinoza told NBC immediately after the race that the win was unbelievable.

"He's just an amazing horse," Espinoza said.

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American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, comes down the final stretch ahead of the field on his way to winning the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes.

The crowd roared as American Pharoah finished the mile and a half track in just over 2 minutes 26 seconds.

The Triple Crown — awarded to the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes — was last won by Affirmed in 1978. Since then, thirteen other thoroughbreds have fallen short of winning the final race and the Triple Crown title, most recently California Chrome last year.

Espinoza had ridden two of the previous contenders for the Triple Crown. Saturday's race was different from the get go, he told NBC.

"This time I was just with so much confidence in American Pharoah," he said.

As he accepted the shiny Triple Crown trophy, Zayat said he was thrilled, excited, and honored.

"With gratitude to God and humbleness this is for the sport," he said. "We need stars."

The win was particularly moving for Bob Baffert, considered one of the top trainers in racing. After unsuccessful attempts at the Triple Crown over the years, he joked to NBC he had come to hate its rarely awarded trophy.

"It's caused me a lot of misery," he said.

Saturday's win was a tribute to the loyal fans at Belmont Park, he added.

"I think it's owed to the fans of New York," he said. "They kept paying their money, showing up."

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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