Around 6:52 P.M. on Saturday afternoon, there will be a deafening roar from some 90,000 fans whoparked themselves inside a giant concrete block. That roar will come from Belmont Park and be for American Pharoah, a moment in history that the sports world hasn’t seen in 37 years.
Here, amidst New York City’s sports malaise, will be our shining moment. It will be the snapshot in time for which this sports year will be remembered. The New York Rangers, it seemed, were bound to be the team to give the tristate area hope but they fell a game short of the Stanley Cup Finals, a season with so much promise heading to the golf course prematurely. Our baseball teams aren’t that good and the less said about basketball and football over the past year the better.
But here in American Pharoah and owner Ahmed Zayat, a resident of Teaneck, N.J., there is hope. Hope for all of us.
Hope from one of us.
There’s no such thing as a guarantee in sports, with a tip of the cap of course to Joe Namath, and especially in a sport that combines human error with animal stubbornness the way that horse racing does. But this horse that gutted it out five weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby and then last month eased to a win at the Preakness is destined for greatness. And this will be the moment from 2015 that New Yorkers will talk about. It will make a whole year of losing teams and bloated salaries seem almost worth it.
For in Zayat and American Pharoah, there is the chance to do something that the world hasn’t seen since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. We’ve come close in recent years, awfully close, to seeing that moment roll out before our eyes. Big Brown was supposed to do it in 2008 and California Chrome seemed like a lock last year. But now, in 2015 with a small field, this horse is ready to rescue this city from its long, sports nightmare.
Zayat is a local businessman, with his home in the shadows of New York City. That he can take this horse to Belmont on Saturday with a chance at history only serves to make this day a little extra special.
Seeing a horse win the Triple Crown is odd, it is unique, it is the kind of history that comes along once or twice in a generation. That it could be one of ours, someone from this area, who can take this “Test of Champions” simply gives us a chance at redeeming this year in sports.
To see American Pharoah draped in white carnations knowing that this horse has deep roots in this area would make the underwhelming New York Yankees and the New York Knicks, who can’t even lose their way to the worst record in the NBA, just a bit more palatable. It would take the sting off the recent Rangers loss and would tide us over to football season.
On Saturday afternoon, American Pharoah won’t just be running for Zayat or a chance at horse racing immortality. Instead, this horse will be running for all of us because he is one of us. He’s a New Yorker.
And it will be his win we will cheer at 6:52 P.M. this Saturday afternoon. Finally, a win for us all.