Horses

Crowd at Keeneland cheers American Pharoah's historic victory

Beth Willett, left, Drew Phillips, Amanda Gray and Jeremy Jones cheer as they watch Zayat Stables' American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Belmont Stakes becoming the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, June 6, 2015. Photo by Matt Goins
Beth Willett, left, Drew Phillips, Amanda Gray and Jeremy Jones cheer as they watch Zayat Stables' American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Belmont Stakes becoming the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, June 6, 2015. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

At Keeneland on Saturday, Jennifer Sloan cried, shouted and pumped her fist as American Pharoah rounded the final turn at the Belmont Stakes. Her emotions ran higher as Pharoah crossed the finish line to claim the Triple Crown.

"It's just amazing," said Sloan, a lifetime resident of Lexington. "It's just ... like .... I've lived it all of my life, and we've watched it every single year. ... I've worked with a lot of eventing horses, and it's all about heart. He knew. It's just so amazing. Oh my goodness!"

Sloan joined hundreds of others at Keeneland to watch the historic Belmont Stakes on television screens, including a huge one in the infield. Fans were yelling, standing on green benches and chanting "Go! Go! Go!" Men in slippers and straw hats lit cigars after the victory.

David Coughlin, who has visited Keeneland for more than 40 years, said he picked American Pharoah to win months ago.

"Because of the way he glides across the track," Coughlin said. "He looks like he's not even touching the track."

Coughlin said he bet $150 on American Pharoah for the Belmont. He said he won $580 on Pharoah at the Kentucky Derby and $135 at the Preakness.

Before the race, the crowd swelled as post time approached. Some fans were tailgating with beer and hot dogs. Others opted to hang out in the grassy area near the entrance of the track to play Frisbee or snack on chips and salsa.

Anne Sullivan and Matthew and Karen Wright said they drove to Keeneland from Frankfort on the spur of the moment.

They said they were glad they came.

"I didn't win a bunch of money, but this was history," Sullivan said. "This will restore the faith in horse racing."

Matthew Wright, who decided to watch the race instead of playing tennis, agreed.

"I'm thrilled to be here," he said. "It's a good change of pace. It's exciting. There's just an excitement you get when it comes to horse racing that you can't get anywhere else. 'Oh, he has it. No he doesn't. Yes he does.' You can't beat that."

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