For Pete's Sake

The Royals now trail a horse in Sportsman of the Year reader poll

The Kansas City Royals celebrated after winning the World Series.
The Kansas City Royals celebrated after winning the World Series.

From the get-go, this was a two-horse race.

Well, a race between one Triple Crown-winning horse and one World Series-winning team. Shortly after Sports Illustrated asked people to vote for a Sportsman of the Year winner, two candidates emerged quickly from the dozen contenders.

While the Royals surged to an early lead, the voting update on Wednesday showed that American Pharoah had nudged ahead. The horse was at 86,093 votes (33 percent) to 84,529 votes (32 percent) for the Royals. You can vote here and when you're done, you’ll see the updated totals.

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is currently in third place with 12 percent of the vote.

The equine star perhaps got a boost after Sports Illustrated made its case for American Pharoah (and it is writing a little something for all 12 candidates).

Mark Beech wrote, “The Triple Crown went unclaimed for 37 years in large part because it is a relic of another time. Horses today are bred to sprint, not to race the classic distances of the Triple Crown series. They also aren’t trained to run so far three times in five weeks. Just as there is no precedent for what Pharoah accomplished in 2015, there is also no price that can be put on what (owner Ahmed) Zayat and (trainer Bob) Baffert gave to sports fans.”

Beech wrote that having American Pharoah race beyond the Triple Crown races was good for the sport.

Not surprisingly, the horsey didn’t comment.

The breakdown of the voting around the nation shows the Royals ahead in just four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois. The horse is ahead in the rest.

Sports Illustrated’s reader poll closes on Dec. 12, and the winner will be announced the next day. Sports Illustrated will announced the Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 14.

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Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff