the Triple Crown season comes to an end, America will not be treated to a
Triple Crown champion. Orb looked to be a serious threat to break the drought
after winning the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Joel
Rosario raved about his performance and were confident he would repeat in the 2013 Preakness Stakes two weeks later. However, Oxbow proved to be the horse that was ready for the challenge.
And so, the Triple Crown bid was spoiled. Despite the fact that we will have to
wait for a Triple Crown possibility, the two champions are set to meet in a
rubber match at the 2013 Belmont Stakes.
York sets the stage for two of the biggest 3-yr-old stars to settle the debate
about who is the better horse. But then
again, the remainder of the field will also be racing to join that debate. So,
what type of rubber match race should we expect in 2013?
are three options. Either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes champion will
win or the final jewel will be awarded to a different horse. Since each
of these outcomes is represented by some very memorable years, and winners, let’s
compare them to 2013.
begin with our most recent winner, Oxbow. His unforgettable Preakness Stakes
win was as unexpected as it was remarkable. But, is Oxbow good enough to join
the club of reverse order Triple Crown near misses?
reverse order I’m referring to horses that returned stronger than ever after a
disappointing Kentucky Derby and won the final two legs of the Triple
Crown. Specifically, two horses come to mind. The first is probably one of the
top five horses to ever win just two of three jewels. Unfortunately,
because he missed in the Kentucky Derby he is often left outside
the rankings. I myself have been guilty of that but to correct those mistakes
let be clear; Point Given was a special horse. (Don't believe me? Just ask my brother, he'll talk for hours)
a tough break from the far outside in a 17 horse field Point Given was never
able to recover behind a blistering pace. It wasn’t his day in a race that went
on to become the second fastest Kentucky Derby. However, it didn’t stop him from
displaying his talents. His runaway win with primary rider Gary Stevens in
the Belmont Stakes validated his pre-derby hype and proved that
he was a better horse than Monarchos.
Gary Stevens captain Oxbow to this same fate? If so, he will lead his colt to join another recent Preakness-Belmont winner that came up short in the Kentucky
Derby. In 2005, Afleet Alex made a very big adjustment after tiring down the stretch and finishing 3rd in the Derby. In the Preakness and Belmont, Afleet Alex became the closer we expected when Jeremy Rose urged him to the front and they drew away to win in convincing fashion.
here are two examples of the horse that Oxbow can become or be compared to.
But, what if the Belmont Stakes puts Orb back into the spotlight. If so, who
else comes to mind that won the first and third legs of the Triple Crown. The easiest
to remember is Thunder Gulch in 1995, but since Affirmed last won the crown in 1978, we mustn’t leave out Swale in 1984.
of these horses make an outstanding case for being ranked in the top 5 horses
that captured two Triple Crown wins. However, because Thunder Gulch fared much
better in the Preakness Stakes I have to give him the advantage. Have we talked
about Gary Stevens yet? If not, then who else but Gary Stevens was in the irons?
He guided Thunder Gulch to a solid win in the Kentucky Derby but they were unable
to return to glory in the Preakness Stakes and finished 3rd. But that didn’t stop D. Wayne Lukas from entering him into the Belmont Stakes. It turned out to be a wise decision as Stevens and Thunder Gulch showcased their talents once again and became the first horse since Swale in 1984 to win both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
also earned both jewels with outstanding efforts but it was the race in
the middle that puzzled him the most. Unable to hold position as the lead
stalker Swale began to fade through the final turn and finished 7th.
He didn’t look quite himself that day so let the comparison to Orb begin.
or since we know he can, let me ask instead; will Orb follow Swale and Thunder Gulch to
become the next Derby – Belmont winner? Otherwise, will another horse in the
field remind us of 2011?
2011 had all the elements of a rubber match that you could ask for. Although
his attempt at wiring the field in the Kentucky Derby came up short, that same front runner style worked perfectly for Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes. In the
Kentucky Derby Shackleford had no reservations, he went right to the front.
While it looked great all the way through the top of the stretch he eventually caved and finished 4th.
the Preakness Stakes, Shackleford bobbled at the start and another horse claimed the lead. However, Flashpoint didn’t realize how bad Shackleford wanted that
lead. Animal Kingdom also learned that he was trying to catch a much different
horse or maybe the same horse at a shorter distance. In the end Shackleford won and
Animal Kingdom finished second.
wants to see a Triple Crown possibility make it to the Belmont Stakes. But, if
it doesn’t happen then what better story than 2011 would you
create. Unfortunately, that’s where the grand idea of a rubber match got swallowed up by
3-yr-olds anxious to take the stage. Ruler on Ice earned the leading
role while Shackleford finished 5th and Animal Kingdom finished 6th.
because history, recent history that is, says that this option is very much on the
table; do you think that it will happen again in 2013? If so, who is ready to steal the spotlight. Or, does your gut tell
you that we will see another 3-yr-old win two of the three jewels. If so.......will it
be Orb or Oxbow?
Either way the rubber match is on and I hope we're in for a good one.