Not hyperbole, but rather a sincere statement I made yesterday on Facebook and Twitter. More than a hundred comments later, I realize that the power of the Triple Crown is profound. Whether those who commented on my statement agreed with me or not, and there were plenty of both, the passion with which they flooded in helped me realize what June 9, 2012 may very well mean to thoroughbred horse racing. Forget Tiznow winning back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics, or Zenyatta going for a perfect 20 to close her career. Sorry. If I’ll Have Another wins the Belmont Stakes, it will be the biggest racing story in 34 years. Period.
The magic of the Triple Crown, magic that has gone unfulfilled for an eternity, trumps all. And you know what … I’m with the people on this one. I’m excited, and I’m ready to talk I’ll Have Another every day with my peeps for as long as we need to. This is a really good horse. All doubts on that fact were decimated in the last 100 yards of one of the better Preakness editions I have ever seen. He’s undefeated this year, he’s got class, heart, and the pedigree to go long, and most importantly, he has a great chance to do racing’s ultimate deed. What’s not to like? I know I like I’ll Have Another.
Now back to those aforementioned comments. Some of my favorites include these Facebook gems…
Sally Spencer – “I got it bad too!!!!”
Patti Henker – “Never ceases to amaze me how fast people jump on and off band wagons....”
Julie Smith – “Kinda makes one wanna go to NY.”
Shelly Asche – “No kidding! Go I'll Have Another. That is one gutsy little horse.”
Linda Waltman – “The last good Preakness. Go Sunday Silence.”
Or how about this Twitter comment that came in from ?@RKasoff – “Where you been?”
I’ve been right here, @RKasoff. I’ve seen them all in the past 40 years. I’m not ready to put I’ll Have Another in the same class as Spectacular Bid or Sunday Silence. No way. I am, however, ready to say this horse interests me more than any Triple Crown threat since Easy Goer squashed the great Sunday Silence down the Belmont Stakes stretch 23 years ago. I’ll Have Another will be the eighth horse to head to Belmont with a chance since then, following are my honest feelings on each.
Silver Charm was as gutsy as they come, and may have been a worthy horse to win the crown, but the truth of the matter was there was never any point in his career where I felt he was head and shoulders above his peers, like a Triple Crown winner should be. Horses like Free House, Captain Bodgit, and Touch Gold were just too equal to him in ability for me to get behind him 100% leading up to the Belmont.
Real Quiet and Charismatic meanwhile, were a pair that peaked at the right time, and either could have easily won the crown if circumstances had only been a hair different on Belmont Day. But considering how very spotty their respective records were before the Derby, the level of excitement was never quite that high for me on either of them.
War Emblem was a horse I never liked, and never thought would win the Belmont.
Funny Cide was a great story, and a fun ride, but I felt he was just a shade below the horse that won the Belmont that year, Empire Maker.
Smarty Jones fooled me. Undefeated going into the Belmont Park stretch, I could never shake the feeling that he was a horse that would not handle the classic distances. Because of this, as wrong as I may have been, I was not a full believer in Smarty until the Belmont was over.
Big Brown was another horse I never rooted for. Looking back, it’s pretty easy to realize that he was a special talent, but as that Triple Crown unfolded, I found myself hoping someone from that weak crop could stop this horse from going into the record books.
I’ll Have Another, on the other hand, has my full attention. He has my excitement level ratcheted up to 10. I think he can do it ...
I mean we all saw the Preakness, right?
Triple Crown Fever … catch it!