Photo: Eclipse Spotswire - Sue Kawczynski
As we approach the last
leg of the Triple Crown, here is the final installment of the Winning Running
Style blogs. As was the case with the Derby and the Preakness, there are
misconceptions about how best to win Belmont Stakes 2013.
It would be very easy to
think with the mile and a half distance, that closing running styles would be
optimal in the Belmont, and as horses are unable to get the twelve furlongs
that they fade and allow the closers to make dramatic runs to win the
race. However, that conclusion is far
Of the three Triple Crown
races, the Belmont is the leg in which the fewest closers have done well and in
which the front-runners and stalkers/pressers have done best. Since the year 2000, only one deep
closer, Jazil, has won the race and
the farthest he got behind was 11¾ lengths. Remember, in recent Kentucky Derbies
horses have closed from more than 20 lengths behind. Five deep closers have won
at Churchill Downs. In the Preakness there were only two deep closers.
Last year in the Belmont
it seemed like Union Rags made a big
run to win the race, but in fact the most he got behind was four lengths and
with a quarter mile to go, he was only one length behind.
Secretariat’s campaign was the greatest example of how running style needs to
change to suit each of the Triple Crown Races. Through most of his early races
Big Red came from off the pace, and in the beginning of the Derby, he was about
10 lengths behind the leaders. In Baltimore Ron Turcotte had him much closer in the early stages of the
Preakness, where he only fell back to fourth place. Secretariat’s run in the
Belmont was legendary. He was on
the lead at every call, while setting an unprecedented pace and ultimately the
world record time of 2:24.
Biographer Bill Nack
described Secretariat’s tremendous performance, “Secretariat
ran flat into legend, started running right out of the gate and never stopped,
ran poor Sham into defeat around the first turn, and down the backstretch and
sprinted clear, opening two lengths, four, then five. He dashed to the
three-quarter pole in 1:09 4/5, the fastest six-furlong clocking in Belmont
This year is the 40th
anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown, in which he displayed the perfect
running styles for all three races. It is only appropriate that this series of
blogs ends with the video of Big Red’s iconic Belmont victory.