Belmont 148 Redux: Big Doings at Big Sandy
ELMONT, NY, June 14, 2016 - The New York Racing Association reported that attendance for Belmont Stakes Day was 60,114.
“And one rabbit,” tweeted Todd Pletcher.
It was gracious of Pletcher after the Steve Asmussen-trained Creator beat his horse, Destin, by a nose in the final jump of 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes. But what could he say other than that?
Of course, Pletcher also trains horses for Creator's owner, WinStar Farm, and they've run rabbits for him, too. And it was WinStar that provided the seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer with his first Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver.
Then turn-about is fair play, isn’t it: In the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Asmussen's Curlin was beaten a head by Pletcher's filly, Rags to Riches.
Asmussen, who will be inducted into The National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame this August in Saratoga Springs, put an exclamation point on that honor by saddling his first Belmont Stakes winner.
Ironically, strategically, the rabbit Gettysburg was moved from Pletcher’s barn to Asmussen's for a Belmont run to insure a more honest pace. It was certainly a circuitous way to get Creator into the winner's circle, a trip that brought celebrity chef Bobby Flay along for the ride.
The Food Network star and NYRA board member bought into the WinStar colt on Wednesday three days prior to the race to impress his new “friend.” Flay was on the other end of Creator's lead shank after the race; his friend had to be duly impressed.
However, this barn switch maneuver raises the question of optics, especially for casual fans. Was this the horse racing version of insider trading?
The Belmont: More History in the Waiting
ELMONT, NY, June 7, 2016 – At 6:54 pm on the evening of June 6, 2015, American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought and became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
There were 13 near misses in between and lots of debate about keeping, or changing, the rigorous triad in its present format.
American Pharoah rightly ended the debate.
However, the accepted spacing that has become modern Triple Crown tradition isn't always portrayed correctly. Triple Crown history is just not that simple.