When I was a child, my father had brought home glasses with horses that had won the Triple Crown. The four I remembered were Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. I enjoyed looking at the horses and preferred to drink out of those glasses. Over the years, the horses faded away or the glasses broke. But they had long disappeared from my family’s cabinets.
Those glasses summarized the long drought between Triple Crown winners. I became aware of the significance of the Triple Crown as a teenager. I had cheered every Triple Crown hopeful, but my hopes had been dashed as the contenders were defeated in the hometown track. A reservation settled in with my hopes. I didn’t cheer too loudly. But I shrugged my shoulders at the Belmont losses. I was resigned that I would spend a gigantic chunk of my lifetime without seeing a Triple Crown winner. Maybe when I will be in the nursing home?
This year (2015), American Pharoah arrived at Belmont for his Triple Crown attempt. I was asked whether he would be the one. I shrugged my shoulders. Too many disappointments before. But since this was the first time in 12 years that I would be watching the Belmont at my family’s house, I wanted to see this race.
I expected one of the challengers to make a move toward the stretch. Frosted did. But unlike the previous hopefuls, American Pharoah pulled away. I pumped my fists and cheered. But I was nervous. Would there be another horse to challenge? But with the last 1/16 mile showing American Pharoah in the lead, I knew he was going to win. A 38-year drought disappeared just like that.
All my favorite sports victories have always prompted me to watch recaps, commentaries and reruns. It was a joy to gobble up The Daily News coverage Sunday of the Belmont Stakes. YouTube became my best friend as I searched for footage of yesterday’s Belmont Stakes.
But if one race still makes me tear up, watch this video of Secretariat’s dominant performance at the 1973 Belmont Stakes to end a 25-year drought.
If the trends in horse racing hold up, there will be a few more Triple Crown winners in the next decade to keep American Pharoah company. But a drinking glass with American Pharoah etched on it will do for now.