Good Morning
Good Morning

No excuses, just praise from American Pharoah's opposing jockeys and trainers

American Pharoah, center breaking out of the gate

American Pharoah, center breaking out of the gate in the start of the 147th Running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park Race Track in Elmont June 6, 2015. Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.

As American Pharoah made it impossible on the other seven horses in the Belmont Stakes field, he also made it easy on them in a way. Nobody had room for misgivings or second guesses. Opponents all knew there was nothing they could do except what they did: appreciate being witnesses to history.

"American Pharoah is a great horse, that's the only way you can describe him," said John Velazquez, who rode Materiality, who had been considered a potential winner but finished eighth.

"It played out just the way I thought it would," Velazquez said, noting that he briefly got into position to challenge. "I just didn't have anything. I was in trouble as soon as we got to the backstretch. My horse ran as good as he could but he was done early. The best horse won the race."

Gary Stevens knows the perils and fatigue in the "Test of the Champion," the 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park, having won the race three times. His hat was decidedly off to Victor Espinoza's winner.

"He ran a hell of a race. That's a hell of a horse," Stevens said. "The race was over in the third jump from the gate. It was over. It's great to come back to a screaming crowd in a happy way instead of booing. It's a pretty cool moment."

Javier Castellano similarly had no remorse about anything he did aboard Madefromlucky, the sixth-place finisher. "I had a beautiful trip. I didn't have much excuse," he said. "My horse is a come-from-behind horse but he didn't show up today. American Pharoah was much the best horse in the field. I give him all the credit in the world. We have been waiting 37 years to see this. It's great for the sport and the fans."

The victorious jockey was not the only one who drew praise. Trainer Bob Baffert got kudos from his peers, too.

"The horse was perfect," said Dale Romans, who trained third-place finisher Keen Ice. "My horse ran his race. It's an amazing thing to be a part of. Bob Baffert is the greatest trainer of all time. My hat's off to him."

Irad Ortiz, who rode Mubtaahij to a fourth-place finish, summed it up for the field when he spoke of the exhilarating atmosphere.

"It was an unbelievable feeling. I loved it," he said. Referring to the 90,000 people in the stands, he added, "Everybody knew American Pharoah was going to win and they started going crazy.

"We had no excuses. The best horse won the race."

New York Sports