Last week, a 3 year old colt named American Pharoah leapt across the finish line at Belmont, clinching the win and also, in the process, the elusive Triple Crown prize—making him the first horse in 37 years and only the 11th in history to do so.

Harvard historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio to discuss what it is about the hunt for the Triple Crown  and why it continues to enthrall Americans—even after a drought of nearly four decades.

"Every American has a relationship with a horse," said Koehn, an avid rider herself.

So it's no surprise that—despite the sport's sometimes-seedy underbelly and its elitist reputation (not to mention eye-popping price tags)—the pursuit of the Triple Crown has continued to captivate.

"There is just a way in which a horse capturing this kind of title and making this kind of achievement, especially after such a long, long time, grabs our hearts in honestly such a noble way," Koehn said.

A lot of that, of course, comes down to the horse itself. If you asked the people surrounding American Pharoah, like his trainer Bob Baffert, they would tell you there was something uniquely fierce about him that would lead him to the win.

"Bob Baffert said very quietly and very consistently when people said no one can do it...'well, it's up to the horse, but we think we have the horse,'" Koehn said.

To hear more from historian Nancy Koehn, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.