Saturday evening at Belmont Park, American Pharoah answered the questions, silenced the critics, put the doubts to rest. In short, he retired the cliches.
The yawning chasm between him and second-place finisher Frosted — more than five lengths on the wire — seemed an appropriate visual representation of the gap the Bob Baffert trainee has put between himself and the rest of a generation that just five weeks ago seemed as deep and contentious as any in recent memory.
In the end, even Pharoah’s rivals waved the white flag of surrender.
“The winner really looked brilliant,” said jockey Joel Rosario, who rode Frosted this day.
“He’s a monster,” said Irad Ortiz, who rode Mubtaahij to a fourth-place finish, of the winner. “He’s a very nice horse. He’s a freak.”
“American Pharoah was much the best horse in the field,” added Javier Castellano, who rode sixth-place finisher Madefromlucky.
Gary Stevens, who mostly had a view of Pharoah’s hind quarters from aboard seventh-place finisher Tale of Verve, said of the winner, “That’s a hell of a horse.”
And John Velazquez, who rode widely fancied Materiality, who pressed the pace early before fading to last, simply added, “American Pharoah is a great horse, that’s the only way you can describe him.”
AMERICAN PHAROAH IN PHOTOS
(Click to enlarge.)