It’s happened again ladies and gentlemen, a horse has won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. Let the hype begin.
First off, let’s look at what this entails: Win the Kentucky Derby. Win the Preakness Stakes. Win the Belmont Stakes. Easy right?
This has only happened three times in my lifetime. This has only happened three times in both of my parent’s lifetimes. Think about that, it really doesn’t happen very often. There have been lots of close calls. In 2005 Afleet Alex won the Preakness and the Belmont, but had placed 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. You can’t hype the Triple Crown by starting off without that first win.
Since the Eleventh and last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978, eleven horses have started off with Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins, but came up short at Belmont. The last horse to make the attempt was Big Brown in 2008, who came up lame and did not finish. Part of the difficulty is the amount of time between races and the increased distance at Belmont. Kentucky is 10 furlongs, Preakness is 9.5, Belmont is 12, which is an extra quarter mile more than the Kentucky Derby. People who run usually specialize in a certain range. Sprinters can run the 100 and the 200. Michael Johnson was a freak of nature because he won Olympic Gold in the 200 and 400, but 400 runners usually run only the 400. Then you have 800 runners who can sometimes compete in the mile, but not always and so on up to marathons. Plus not every horse races all three races, so there will be horses with more rest coming to race the Belmont.
Why care? Isn’t the Sport of Kings just an archaic relic of old times? Possibly. But we love knowing who or what is the fastest on two legs, four legs, or wheels. You can believe I want to see Usain Bolt run the 100 at the Olympics in London this summer. I would provide first hand coverage for anyone willing to sponsor sending me over, too. But back to the horses, it’s an opportunity for the owners to pocket some nice prize money. And for any horse to win the Triple Crown, there would be a great demand for his services in the form of stud fees that would be good for the owner and the horse, of course.
For the casual fan there’s the opportunity to gamble and drink which is always lots of fun, especially if you win. My friend Jeff lived in New York the year Charismatic was aiming for the Triple Crown. His coworker was going to the race and asked him if he would like to place a bet. Jeff knew absolutely nothing of horse racing and he picked the name that stood out, Lemon Drop Kid, and ended up making 61.50 to 1 on his maybe 20 dollar investment, not bad. Which is really the point, find a long shot, and hope for the best. Funny thing is Lemon Drop Kid’s grandfather was 1977 Triple Crown Winner, Seattle Slew.
Looking at names, I’ll Have Another is kind of catchy. It could imply drinking, which as I said before, goes hand in hand with horse racing. It also could refer to winning too. If I’ll Have Another wins another, he will be immortal in horse racing. His main competitor so far has been Bodemeister, which sounds more like a skier dude from the ’90s. “Did you see the Bodemeister hit that gnarly air? It was sweet!” Oh wait, that’s Bode Miller.
Word is that Bodemeister won’t be running at Belmont, which means the Bodemeister is kind of a sore loser. But there are other potential spoilers out there that are favored at the longer Belmont distance. The lineup won’t be set until a week before the June 9th race, so we’ll have to wait to see what kind of gambling odds are out there.
In the mean time, I have to find a way to get out to Belmont Park Racetrack in Elmont, New York and check it out first hand. I looked it up and I’m only fifteen miles away. Twenty-five minutes by car or an hour and forty minutes of mass transit. Hopefully I can convince someone with a car. Maybe I will witness history. Maybe I’ll make some money. Maybe I’ll come back broke and drunk.