Sports Commentary 5/20/13
Another Year without a Triple Crown Thoroughbred Winner
JUST GOES TO “SHOW”, OR NOT
The wait will now stretch to 36 years, and counting. For the 35th straight year, since Affirmed in 1978, there will not be a Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing. Once again it just goes to show the Kentucky Derby, with all the variables that result from having 20 horses all charging to the rail out of the gate, is not in and of itself a great indicator of what’s to come, and the Belmont Stakes, June 8th at Belmont Park in New York, will be a nice finish to this year’s Triple Crown series, without the sizzle that goes with one winner one win away from the Triple Crown. Early projections for the Belmont Stakes show only one of the two winners in the Triple Crown series in for the final lap, Kentucky Derby winner Orb expected to sit it out after finishing out of the money in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. Orb finished a disappointing fourth and factored only once in the Preakness, when he made a move up the field on the backstretch. He never led. The Preakness belonged to Oxbow, wire to wire, a classic example of what a flat out speed horse can accomplish in a small field with an experienced rider up. 50 year old Gary Stevens, out of retirement for this Triple Crown series, took Oxbow from the sixth gate right to the lead and never looked back. In horseracing, of course, that’s just an expression. The jockey will look back to get a read on the challengers, but, once in the lead, Oxbow just kept on running. The story of how this race was run was on the faces of the jockeys. Joel Rosario, the jockey on Orb, was covered with Pimlico dirt, thrown up by the horses in front of him. Gary Stevens’ face was as clean as if he’d been freshly made up, not a horse in front of him for the entire run. Orb is not expected to be at Belmont Park for the final jewel, nor are two of the horses that carried odds that put them among the favorites going to the Kentucky Derby, Goldencents and Verrazano. The place and show horses from the Derby, Golden Soul and Revolutionary are listed among the nine horses expected to make it to Belmont, along with 11th and 12th place finishers Overanalyze and Palace Malice, but with stud fees pretty much assured and nothing but a single jewel to run for many of the horses who gave this year’s Triple Crown series it’s early lustre are sitting it out. Itsmyluckday finished second at the Preakness and will be back to challenge Oxbow again, but the final leg will give some newcomers a chance to make a three year old name for themselves, with stakes winners Freedom Child, Code West, who won the allowance at Pimlico and Power Broker, who won the allowance at Churchill Downs, expected to run in the Belmont Stakes. It was hard to find a prognosticator who didn’t think Orb was the real deal and could do what Oxbow did at the Preakness, flat out run wire to wire. Today it’s hard to find a prognosticator who got the second jewel right. It just goes to show you how tenuous it is, trying to pick these things, and how much different the third jewel can look from the first when there’s no hope for a Triple Crown. 36 years, and counting. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.