In the moments, the hours after the Belmont, after a Triple
Crown bid has just been denied, emotions are always running high. The highs are
higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, the lows can make you feel like just
landed face first on a highway blacktop. Either way, in those moments, it is
never time to recap. It is the day after, where emotions have settled and
everything has sunk in, when it is time to reassess and comment.
Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the winners. Tonalist
, Palace Malice
, Coffee Clique
, Real Solution
, and Close Hatches
. If I
missed a horse, I apologize. They ran their eye balls out yesterday, every
single one of them. Whether they played hero or spoiler, they ran their guts
out and gave us some absolutely amazingly, scintillating finishes.
Secondly, I’d like to offer my thoughts, post-race, on a few.
First up, what a sprinter Bayern will become. Bob Baffert said he was talented,
said he was something special, and boy oh boy did Bayern prove him right.
Lightning fast track or not, those splits were harsh and he was right in the
thick of them. Then turning for home, Social Inclusion made his move at him,
hoping that Bayern had been softened, but to no avail. Bayer turned him away,
and then put him away. He made him and the rest of a very talented group look
like 12.5k claimers. If we thought the
sprint division was weak and boring this year, well, it just got a whole lot
more interesting. Hopefully this one comes back to make a lot more noise, later
on in the year.
The Ogden Phipps was supposed to be Beholder
vs Princess of Sylmar
mean, Close Hatches is good and all, but what the hey! Before anyone gets their
nickers in a twist……I’m joking. But seriously, who expected Close Hatches to
upset both of these two Distaff titans? Yes, some did, and I give credit to
them, but not many. Miss Hatches ran an amazing race. She deserves to be head
of the heap, after remaining unbeaten, beating the two best mares in the
division, while taking her second grade one of 2014. She ran a fine race.
However, I do look forward to if she can keep the Princess at bay when the
distances go to nine furlongs and beyond.
On Beholder, She is a talented filly. She deserves a ton of respect. However,
she just doesn’t seem to be the unbeatable force that she is at Santa Anita, when
she leaves the comfy confines of that track. Twice she has run in grade ones
outside of Santa Anita, twice she’s failed. Albeit, not by much, but it would
seem that her form greatly improves when she is racing at her favorite course.
It should be interesting to see if she continues to try and find success on the
east, or if she returns to California for continued success.
Now, to my favorite race of the day…..the Met Mile, where Palace Malice
overcame post position, high weight, and traffic troubles to complete a rare
double, by winning the Belmont Stakes and Met Mile. Not many horses can boast
grade one wins from a mile to 12 furlongs. He, like Close Hatches, staked his
claim as the head of his division yesterday, and I’m betting he keeps it with
more wins that, hopefully come in the Whitney, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold
After all the hype and build up, during the day, it sure was
hard not to let the events during and after the Belmont spoil everything.
First, California Chrome
was denied a place among the 11 elites. Then his owner
rants on camera, then it’s revealed that Chrome came out of the race with a
very nasty looking grabbed quarter, which looks as if he sustained only a
stride or two out of the gate.
My original thoughts haven’t changed much. I disagree with
the time and place at which Steve Coburn made his arguments, and I disagree
with the manner in which he made them. It wasn’t gracious and it left a bad
taste in the mouths of many. That being said, I believe he made some good
points. I don’t believe the connections of Tonalist and Commissioner are
cowards, but I would say they are greedy. More people would rather play spoiler
than see a horse win the Triple Crown, and more people are even more willing to
do it, when there is a big purse on the line.
Are you going to tell me that the connections of Sham, Alydar, and Easy Goer
wanted to spoil the Triple Crown just to say they did? Just to make some money?
I doubt that. They were in it to prove that their horse was the best. They didn’t
duck any of the races, they took their shots over and over, because they
believe that their horse was best, and they wanted to prove it. I doubt any of
the connections that ran their horses in the Belmont actually believed that
they had the better horse. In fact, many admitted that they thought they didn’t.
I don’t agree that if a horse hasn’t run in both the Derby and Preakness, they
can’t run in the Belmont. If that were the case then this year’s Belmont would
have been a total of 3 horses, and where is a test in that? I do think however,
that if you did not qualify for the Derby, then you shouldn’t be allowed to run
in either the Preakness or Belmont. Notice I did not say if you didn’t race in
the Derby. Meaning if you had the points, but for some reason, the horse was
scratched you can still run back in the other two, as well as those who made
the gate. Under that rule the Belmont would have ended up with a field of seven
horses. Still a decent sized field with plenty of quality to it.
Would Chrome have won under this? No. In fact he would have
lost to a horse I said wouldn’t run well over the Belmont dirt. So, this is not
about wanting to make the Triple Crown easier. It’s about leveling the playing
field to an extent. Racing is the only sport that sets its heroes up to fail.
Would you see Usain Bolt run with seven pounds of lead on his shoulders, to
make it easier for his opposition to stay with him? Do we see people who didn’t
qualify for the Olympic Games allowed in at the last moment, because what, they
wanted to rest during the last half of the season, and because of that didn’t
have enough points or merits to qualify? No. The same should apply to any
series in horse racing.
I want fans to stick around. I don’t want them to go away,
and I don’t want to watch the sport I love die a slow death, because we feel we
need to handicap our heroes into the realm of ordinary.
June 7, 2014 embodied all of racing in one day. Its beauty and its shining positives
and its flaws. It’s time we embraced those flaws and learn from them, and fixed
them. It’s time we stopped trying to hide them, dressing them up to make them
into something they aren’t. It’s time to make a few changes, or watch this
sport fall into oblivion.