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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

A Deep Yearning for a Triple Crown

Secretariat 615 X 400

15 days from now a field of ten or more young horses will enter the starting gate for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes. It is a race that will evoke strong emotion from the richest owner, to the hard working men and women that toil on the backstretch on a daily basis. Whether a fan of the Sport of Kings for multiple decades, or one that has begun watching the game only recently, no one will be immune from the desire to see something worth remembering. It matters little if you’ve backed California Chrome from the beginning, or not, racing fans have never been more ready for a new champion to exalt in.


In 1973, the racing world felt a similar frustration and yearning. It had been 25 long years since Citation topped off a wonderful decade for racing with a dominating win in the Belmont Stakes to become the 8th winner of America’s Triple Crown. At the time, 41 years ago, followers of the sport wondered if the horses of that era still had what it took to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and the Belmont. All that frustration bubbled over into joy and exultation when a powerful chestnut ran the greatest race ever seen on United States soil.


Big Red stoked the fires of the crowd into a fever pitch from the moment he began to leave his rival Sham behind on the backstretch, through every purposeful stride until the wire. Fans at Belmont Park came together wildly in a group celebration for an equine hero. For those lucky enough to be there on June the 9th, it represents a unique moment in time that will be taken to the grave. And what a way to break the drought. 31 lengths. World record time. A nation rejoiced. Secretariat was exactly what everyone had been waiting for.


Soon after, Seattle Slew, and then Affirmed would carve out their own unique place in the history books, as Triple Crown winners numbers ten and eleven. The Triple Crown was no longer a mysterious, and legendary achievement, but rather something that the right horse could do. Three horses did it within six years; who would be next?


The Triple Crown would not take long to take a turn to the seemingly impossible again. It’s hard to say how many horses were better than Spectacular Bid in modern racing, but the list is short. With each powerful win of a dozen in a row, he assured race fans that he would become the fourth horse to be crowned within the golden decade of racing.


Maybe Buddy Delp was too brash. Maybe Ronnie Franklin should never have been placed into such an important moment. Or perhaps the difference in becoming a Triple Crown winner, or not, can be measured on the tip of a safety pin. The unthinkable happened. Spectacular Bid was beaten, and a brand new dry spell for racing began.


Teased for so long since, we are now ready. 36 years ready. Will it be another copper colored colt glistening in the New York sun on June 7, 2014? It’s all up to California Chrome now. He will do it, if, and only if, he is the right horse. For the sake of race fans everywhere, I hope he is.


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Older Comments about A Deep Yearning for a Triple Crown...

7F in 1:20 1/5 carying 139 lbs wasn't too shabby either! That's one thing Ghostzapper never did, carry weight.
I remember when I saw Dr. Fager run. He was the king of the milers, but could also go a route. The closest thing I've seen to him was Ghostzapper, and Fager would've thumped his behind.
that is sad that you missed the great ones of the 60's 70's and 80's Decade of Champions by Ptrick Robinson chronicles how deep that time went.
California Chrome is an amazing animal. Let's hope he IS the super horse needed to win the Triple Crown. I'm wishing and hoping and crossing my fingers. Go Chrome!
I've been horseback all my life in ropin' racin' & workin'. I watch & play the races daily & I've never seen a horse like CC & don't think we'll see another for a long time!!!
I heard Art Sherman on the radio this morning say that it takes a "super horse" to win the Triple Crown.
the Biid >>>3 words...GET TIED ON !!!...
CC is good, but stil not convinced, sorry but I do not think he will be the one
ekindly, your glass is half empty. You are comparing him to the failures instead of the successes. He's run 6 monster races in a row, by the way. Experts and commentors like yourself have been waiting for him to "bounce" since the second one. Compare Chrome's present condition to the the recent scratch Danza. Chrome is thriving, gained 35 lbs after the Derby and getting stronger after every race. Danza who ran just 2 hard races in the Ark and Derby was visiibly unable to continue according to Pletcher. Forget what you were conditioned to believe is supposed to happen...and believe what you are seeing with your own eyes!!
Exterminator. I wholeheartedly agree. No cutting and saving newspaper clippings like in the days of Slew, Affirmed, and Bid. No collecting memorabilia - which is a joke today anyway. Just the satisfaction of taking it all in one more time. It is a coronation of equine immortality, an experience the likes of which exists nowhere else in the sports world. Will be savoring every minute of it. I see this Belmont much like Easy Goer's and Point Given's. He will separate himself from the rest of the field at the top of the stretch and hit the wire 11-15 lengths in front.
Everything Brian just talked about is the reason why so many people think this is the year. And it's all based on emotion. Heck, I want to see this happen too. But when you strip away the emotion and look at the reality, winning this race after having just given two monster efforts in the 5 weeks prior is just too difficult to realistically think it will happen. And I don't say that because of an east/west coast bias or his breeding or his humble beginnings, I say it because so many others who are every bit as good as he is (and some far better) have failed for the reason I believe he will fail. It's just too difficult of a gauntlet of races to run well in and pull out a victory each time.
California Chrome ALL THE WAY!
Brian, rest assured California Chrome is the 'right horse' because he is the better horse. He will not be beaten because he can beat himself. The bond of jockey and horse is something special - the last time witnessed such a magical duo is Mike Smith and Zenyatta. On June 7th Belmont Park will transform into a magical place come Belmont Stakes. And cheers from every corner of America will be cheering this wonderkind of a racehorse. God, if I only could see it at Santa Anita. It will be magically. Enjoy.
GO CHROME!!!! The Sport of Kings needs this and this country needs this. CC can do this so as I've said many times before...GO CHROME!!!
I just hope that I don't hear Larry Collmus saying "it's been 36 years, it's just one furlong away and ??? wins the Belmont Stakes. Tom Durkin's call is forever etched in my memory. I wish all the best for CC on Saturday June 7, 2014. The emotion is flowing and I can only imagine what the connections are going through and feeling All my prayers and good wishes and hopes are with CC in the Belmont, I sure hope and pray he wins. I remember when Spectacular Bid lost the Belmont, I never want to feel THAT bad ever again. GOOD LUCK CC!!!!!!
Big Red got me into this sport watching his amazing Belmont on TV, watched Slew too. I was lucky to be at the track for Affirmed's win. The glimps of two chestnuts flashing by ... didn't think I'd be waiting so long!!!
I hope so Brian, I feel so good about CC that I am going this year, I have not gone for the last few that have had a chance..but this one...this one I feel might just have a shot :)
I keep forgetting that if I sign in without Facebook I loose my dead cow avatar
Very well written. I remember Secretariat very well. I remember Seattle Slew fairly well. I don't remember as much about Affirmed. Horse racing needs a new hero. We've got another chestnut colt this time with a lot of chrome vying for the honor. I also hope he makes it.
I think he'll do it, and he'll do it in a way thet we will never forget. This time I've given up on truly betting the race, I just want to be able to say that I was there. The Belmont day card is supposed to be unforgettable, let's hope Chrome makes sure that happens.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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