Based on a vote of nearly 1,000 racing fans on Twitter, American Pharoah’s win in the Belmont Stakes that ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought (represented by the hashtag #APTripleCrown for voting purposes) was named the 2015 NTRA Moment of the Year. The result was announced this morning at the fourth annual ThoroFan Awards Breakfast at Frankey’s Sports Bar in The Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Under regular rider Victor Espinoza, heavily favored American Pharoah led every step of the way in the June 6 Belmont, drawing clear in the stretch to score by 5 1/2 lengths. The result ignited a raucous celebration among the 90,000 fans on track and 22 million more watching on NBC, while also establishing the 3-year-old colt as an international celebrity.
Throughout his racing career, American Pharoah was trained by Bob Baffert for the Zayat Stables of Ahmed Zayat.
Baffert accepted the Moment of the Year award – a glass timepiece set to 6:55 p.m. for the moment American Pharoah crossed the Belmont finish line – from Jim Mulvihill, NTRA Director of Media & Industry Relations. The NTRA Moment of the Year will also be celebrated with a video and presentation during Saturday night’s Eclipse Awards ceremony.
NTRA Moment of the Year voters chose from 10 images illustrating a range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Finishing second was American Pharoah’s victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which made him the first horse to complete what some refer to as racing’s “Grand Slam” – a Triple Crown topped by a Breeders’ Cup Classic win in the same season. Those votes were cast with the hashtag #APClassic.
“American Pharoah’s win in the Belmont was more than the NTRA Moment of the Year; for many of us racing fans it was the moment of a lifetime,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA Chief Operating Officer.
Other important moments from 2015 that received significant support from voters were the March 18 death of Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens (#TheChief) and the dominant Aug. 22 Pacific Classic win by supermare Beholder (#Beholder).
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes.
Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. In 2013, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections. Last year, the award went to California Chrome’s dominant win in Kentucky Derby 140.