American Pharoah’s Quest For Triple Crown Faces Familiar Obstacle

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Stop us if you’ve heard this before: A horse is just one win away from completing the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah will seek to become the first winner of horse racing’s hallowed accomplishment since Affirmed in 1978 when the Belmont Stakes kick off this Saturday. Yet history certainly won’t be on his side. More than 20 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes only to lose at the Belmont, including five in the last 15 years.

California Chrome was the latest victim, finishing a distant fourth in last year’s Belmont Stakes. So why has the Triple Crown been so hard to accomplish? If a horse can win the first two legs with ease, why is the third any different? The answer is simple, and it’s nothing new.

[tweet https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/606492132568727552 align=’center’]

As too often is the case, the Belmont will feature a small field of just eight horses, seven of which will be well-rested and spared the strain of competing in three major races in just a month’s span.

The Louisville Voice-Tribune?s Igor Guryashkin knows this all too well, and even before American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby back in early May, he told NESN.com that seeing a Triple Crown winner this year is unlikely, even if a horse won the first two legs.

“(Other horses) aren’t going to be undergoing the rigorous schedule that the (Kentucky Derby) winner undoubtedly does, and when that happens, it makes it infinitely more difficult.”

Can American Pharoah prove Guryashkin wrong? It’s certainly possible, but the odds — and history — are stacked against him.

Click to see recent Triple Crown near misses >>

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

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