Erik Johnson Talks Horses, American Pharoah


Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is not just a hockey player. He’s also a horse racing aficionado. And Johnson knows his horses.

In an interview with Altitude TV, Johnson relayed some of his expertise, especially related to the Belmont Stakes, the third race of the Triple Crown:

"“This is at Belmont. They call it the Sandbox. It’s just a sandy, tough track to get around. It’s pretty unique because of the dimensions and the features of the race, there’s a lot of long stretch runs, and the turns are typically wider than most of the tracks the horses are running on. This is the longest race any of these horses will run in their life at a mile-and-a-half.”"

The interview with Altitude TV took place before the Belmont Stakes, and Erik Johnson shared that an outlier winner for the race could be Keen Ice, who’s trained by Dale Rolands. Apparently Keen Ice got blocked during the Kentucky Derby but still came sprinting down the final stretch, which impressed Johnson. He finished:

"“If American Pharoah gets tired down the stretch, you’re going to see Keen Ice chasing him like a banshee.”"

Indeed, Keen Ice finished third in the race.

Make no mistake, Johnson has great respect for American Pharoah, calling him “one of the best horses anyone’s seen in a long time.” In fact, Johnson referenced the fact of American Pharoah’s win at Preakness after a rain:

"“Everyone who has a horse in [Belmont Stakes] is going to be praying that it doesn’t rain because American Pharoah dominated in the Arkansas Derby and the prep race for the derby in slop. And obviously at Preakness it was no contest in the rain. There’d be a lot of unhappy owners and unhappy trainers if it rained that day.”"

Johnson actually owns his own horse — I’m not sure if it’s a racehorse, but I’m going to guess so by the following comment:

"“They always say if you can’t own a sports team, you should own a horse. It’s the same type of thrill.”"

I’ve never heard that saying, but it makes sense.

Erik Johnson says he’s been into horse racing for a long time. Canterbury Park Horse Racing is not far from his hometown in Minnesota. He says horse racing is something he’s always loved, but that he’s gotten more involved in the sport in recent years.

Johnson attended the Kentucky Derby this year for the first time. In fact, he was even able to go onto the back stretch to the stables to view some of the world class horses, including the new Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah:

He said of the experience:

"“I’m a big horse racing fan, so that for me was like some people getting their picture taken with  athletes or a celebrities.”"

In fact, Erik Johnson is an Athlete Ambassador for Animals and, therefore, a big animal lover. According the the Avalanche mailbag, Johnson has always loved animals:

"“I remember when I was younger, we’d always take class field trips to farms and we’d get to see all the different horses, cows, cats, goats and stuff like that. Since I was a kid, I liked being around animals, and you know I’m kind of an advocate for them because they don’t have a voice. So you’re kind of their voice.”"

Indeed, he recently tweeted about a dog in need:

So, horse racing may be different from being an animal lover, but for Erik Johnson, they’re part of the same idea.

Next: Erik Johnson's Curse

More About Erik Johnson

Colorado Avalanche Must Extend Erik Johnson’s Contract

Erik Johnson Makes Fan’s Day

Johnson Necessary Aspect of Avs Defense

TBT: Erik Johnson’s First Goal as an Avalanche

Evaluating Avalanche’s Erik Johnson