Byrnes: Triple Crown prompts questions for top 3-year-olds

June 09, 2019 12:14pm

Sir Winston's upset victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes put an end to one of the most wild and unpredictable Triple Crown seasons in recent memory. From Maximum Security's disqualification in the Kentucky Derby to War of Will's redemption in the Preakness Stakes, it's a series we'll discuss for years.

In the more immediate future, the Triple Crown also prompted a number of questions within racing's glamour division.

Of course, the most talked about incident of the racing year was the disqualification of
Maximum Security from the Kentucky Derby. Wether you agreed with the devision, Maximum Security proved he's the real deal, with Monmouth Park's June 16 Pegasus Stakes and July 20 Haskell (G1) both options moving forward. Since the Derby, many have hailed him as the top sophomore in the country. The questions: Can he maintain that form and take on pace pressure against top competition?

Preakness winner War of Will was a disappointing ninth in the Belmont Stakes, perhaps a sign that going in all three Triple Crown races left him flat. He'll freshen up and target the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (G1), with the July 27 Jim Dandy (G2) as a possible prep. While the second leg of the Triple Crown certainly vindicated him after a rough running of the Derby, the verdict's out on what he beat with runner-up Everfast failing to fire in the Belmont. Did the Triple Crown take too much out him? And if not, at what distances and spots is he best suited to succeed?

There's more to question about Country House, who was promoted to win the Kentucky Derby. We're still left wondering whether he's a Grade 1 quality winner. Yes, he has run competitively with the best in his crop. But can he beat them all across the wire at some point? The consistent Derby trail board hitter is pointing toward a Saratoga return along with Bill Mott stablemate Tacitus, second in the Belmont. It will be interesting to see how the betting public handles Country House next time.

Belmont winner Sir Winston opened his season with three straight off-the-board finishes and went into Saturday's race without a victory on dirt. But upon arriving at Belmont Park, he showed an affinity for the track, finishing a rallying second in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3), staying in New York to train and then surprising in the "Test of a Champion." Can Sir Winston excel on the main track outside of Belmont, or is he a horse for the course thriving around wide turns and over the sandy surface?

Those four runners are in the spotlight, but horses like former Derby favorite Omaha Beach, reigning 2-year-old champ Game Winner and Peter Pan winner Global Campaign figure to state cases of their own in the 3-year-old division. In the meantime, different winners in each leg of the Triple Crown have left us with a number of questions to answer -- and that's OK, because there's plenty to look forward to during the second half of the season.


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Meet Jeff Brynes

I have loved this sport since my early childhood. My first true memory was when my grandfather took me to Saratoga for the 2005 Travers Stakes, and watching Flower Alley come down the stretch to duel with Bellamy Road. I'll never forget that day, the roar of the crowd, and the pure excitement of winning. I became an instant fan of the game. Since then, I've visited many tracks, among them Monmouth Park, Saratoga Harness, Freehold Raceway, Belmont Park, and the Meadowlands -- all in the New York / New Jersey area. 

Of all the horses I've seen in my lifetime, none have captured my imagination like Curlin. The two time Horse of the Year is, and will always be, my all-time favorite horse. Other favorites include Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia D'Oro, Wise Dan and American Pharaoh.

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