That is the question now that the bay has won the Preakness Stakes in commanding fashion (seven lengths) on a muddy track that caused Firing Line, the Derby runner-up, to stumble out of the gate, and AP stable-mate Dortmund, who finished third at the Derby, to fade to fourth at Pimlico.
History does not favor the Pharoah. Two charmers named I’ll Have Another and California Chrome took the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2012 and 2014 respectively only to come up short on the Belmont Stakes’ 1 ½-mile course.
It’s no coincidence that the three horses that won the Triple Crown in the 1970s – Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978), the last horse to do so – all called Belmont Park home.
Then, too, many trainers save their horses for the Belmont, skipping the Preakness. Already, experts are talking about a fresh Frosted and Materiality giving the Pharoah a run for his money.
But I prefer to think the Pharoah will do it. He has endurance in his genes and a talent for adversity as his rainy Preakness triumph attests (even if he has to wear earplugs to keep himself calm).
He’s said to be a gentle soul – but then, Secretariat was a shy guy; Slew, high-strung; and Affirmed, at times too laid-back.
What they all had in common was the will to win.