Her name is Rags to Riches and she already is a special filly. A victory in the Belmont would put her in rarified air, indeed. Only Ruthless and Tanya have beaten the boys since this race was first run in 1867.
Win or lose, Rags to Riches gives the Belmont what it sorely needed; box office, Digger notwithstanding, of course. Already a three-time Grade 1 winner this year, she already is the highly likely Eclipse Award winner in her division.
But with an upset on Saturday, however, and a clean slate against her own kind the rest of the year, Rags to Riches suddenly is in the conversation for Horse of the Year. Easier said than done, of course, but she is a bona fide contender.
Nick Zito said it best after the Preakness, and said it again when he let it be known that C P West would be the seventh horse entered in Saturday’s race: “He proved he belongs with these horses,” was his quote moments after C P West’s strong fourth-place Baltimore run.
“I heard the band, and the next thing I was marching,” Zito said, too, as if his colt’s Preakness weren’t an excellent prep for the Belmont. Somehow I don’t think this decision was made yesterday.
Starting to get a little excited about the race now. Curlin clearly is a deserving favorite. But the “Test of the Champion” seldom is easily won.