by Harper Hutchins
We have sent TDN intern Harper Hutchins to the last two legs of the Triple Crown to report on the events from a college student’s perspective. Her Belmont report follows.
As an intern for the Thoroughbred Daily News, I have been given incredible opportunities, varying from learning how to enter European data into TDN Progeny PPs to eating my first hard shell crab in Baltimore before the Preakness. This week, the staff at the TDN sent me to the Belmont to report on the race from a younger person’s perspective. It was the opportunity of a lifetime; an opportunity nearly no one my age gets.
Waiting in the elevator on the ride up to the Garden Terrace at Belmont Park on Saturday to watch the big race, we were all silent. These strangers and I all had one common thing on our minds. ‘Would Pharoah pull it off?’
Standing on the chairs in the Garden Terrace, the second I heard the gates open, a shiver went through my body. Goose bumps stayed on my arms throughout the race. Everyone in the entire building–the entire world, it seemed–was screaming. Mostly, they were screaming ‘c’mon Pharoah’ or some inaudible version of that. As he turned for home, everyone could see we were in the presence of a great, in the presence of a horse that really does only come around every 37 years. Through the turn for home, Espinoza opened him up and just let him run. It was almost as if Pharoah were saying ‘finally!’ as he tore up the track leaving the others in his wake. As he came across the finish line, I could not believe it. It was so surreal, knowing that this moment is one that will be captured for centuries. I have been watching past Triple Crown performances, and seeing the energy and feeling of a crowd gone wild and overcome with emotion that goes along with it. To be a part of that crowd Saturday felt like a dream. With tears streaming down my face, it was clear, we had just witnessed something incredible.
Running to the elevators to avoid traffic and make my train, it was hard to process what had just happened; hard to understand how monumental this moment was for avid racing fans and horse racing as a sport. Standing in the elevator with different strangers this time there was a different silence: a silence that said, ‘I can’t believe the drought is over. I just can’t believe it.’ Still in the elevator, I got waves of text messages from friends and family asking me about my experience. All I could answer was that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I am an emotional person. I always have been the one to cry at concerts or tear up over sweet commercials. But, the pure adrenaline and power of American Pharoah writing a new page in the history books of American racing was an emotion like no other.
I turned 19 on Thursday. To be so young and to have witnessed something so special, so beautiful, was truly an honor. Being in the presence of the ’12th wonder’ of American racing was something I will truly never forget. When you turn 19 people say ‘oh it’s your last year of teenage-hood!’ Really it’s nothing special. 19 is an in-between age. You have already been an adult for a year, you can’t drink for another two years. For us lucky ones, it will be the year the Triple Crown was finally won. For me in particular, it will be the year I witnessed history.