American Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza confident ahead of third Belmont Stakes attempt

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- For the second straight year, jockey Victor Espinoza is the toast of the town heading into the Belmont Stakes.

The 43-year-old is trying not only to win horse racing's first Triple Crown in 37 years, but he's the first jockey to attempt this elusive feat three separate times.

Espinoza admits he's experiencing some jitters ahead of Saturday's big race in Elmont, N.Y.

"I am a little bit nervous," he told PIX11 News.

This year he comes in riding the favorite, American Pharoah, but he knows this doesn't guarantee a win. The Belmont is the longest and most grueling of the three races -- a mile and a half.

Espinoza learned the hard way last year, losing on California Chrome, and in 2002 on War Emblem.

"I have more confidence," Espinoza said of this year's race. "It takes a team. [American Pharoah's trainer] Bob Baffert knows how to train the horses the right way to come to the Belmont."

He said he watched last year's loss at the Belmont, and says he ran the race he wanted.

"There's nothing I could have done differently," he said.

American Pharoah has shown he can run from behind, as he did in the Kentucky Derby and off the lead as he did in the Preakness.

So as race day draws closer, Espinoza said the historical significance of winning Saturday takes on new significance. No other rider has won the triple crown in 37 years and only 12 jockeys have achieved this feat. A fact not lost on a man who was once a bus driver in his home country of Mexico.

"I never thought in a million years I would be in this position," Espinoza said. "Pulling this off would be an amazing thing for myself."

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