- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown win drew the third-best preliminary television rating for the Belmont Stakes since that started being measured in 1988.

With the competition over so quickly, horse racing doesn’t benefit from a dramatic contest in the way other sports do. The race portion of NBC’s broadcast Saturday ran from 6:15-7:15 p.m. EDT, so only the final third of it came after American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

The 12.3 overnight rating was down slightly from the 12.9 for California Chrome’s Triple Crown attempt last year. Ratings for the Belmont tend to be driven by the appeal of horse’s back story that lures viewers in from the start.

The Stanley Cup Final game that started immediately after the Belmont seemed to benefit from the lead-in. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks earned a 4.8 overnight, the best for NBC for a Game 2, the network said Sunday. It was up 5 percent from last year’s double-overtime game between the Rangers and Kings.

Ratings represent the percentage of U.S. homes with televisions tuned to a program, and overnights measure the country’s largest markets. Complete viewership numbers are expected later Sunday.

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