I ~ Molly Jo ~ am 26 years old and have never seen a Triple Crown. Smarty Jones was the great chestnut hope since I didn't think War Emblem could do it on the lead, Funny Cide could top his Preakness performance, and Big Brown could overcome the nagging foot trouble. But I'll Have Another gave me a glimmer of hope. He was the outsider: a non-blue blood pedigree from a trainer not known on the national stage and with a young jockey who'd never even been to Kentucky, Maryland or New York six weeks ago.
But it wasn't meant to be... the start of a bowed tendon ended the Triple Crown dreams for TeamO'Neill and the son of Flower Alley.
Does that mean the race is any less special? No.
143 horses have won the Belmont Stakes and today another name will be added to a list that includes Spendthrift, Native Dancer, Nashua, Needles, Jaipur, Bold Forbes, Risen Star, Easy Goer, and A.P. Indy.
Are you going to tell me they weren't as special as Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, or Affirmed? No.
The quality of a race is determined by the talent that runs in it. This field is accomplished and gives the vibe that someone is ready to break out and declare themselves a force to be reckoned with. Drosselmeyer did just that two years ago; albeit it was a further year and a half before his Breeders' Cup Classic win.
Yes, the race lost it's main star. But that doesn't mean anything more than the odds of winning the race for the other contenders went from .0833 to .0909. Crying over spilled milk or bowed tendons is pointless: let's enjoy the race that will be instead of the race that could have been.
There are too many good betting angles and pace scenarios to think that this will be anything but an outstanding running of the Belmont Stakes.