Union Rags roared from behind to win the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, one day after the winner of the first two legs of horse racing's fabled Triple Crown dropped out due to an injury.
ELMONT, N.Y.-- Late Friday morning, a cluster of photographers was gathered inside the rail at Belmont Park, staking out positions for the hundreds of cameras that would be put in place to capture horse racing history a day later. In the parking lots surrounding the big racetrack, portable lighting towers were in place to illuminate the acres of parking lots that surround the oval. Inside, workers applied paint and polish to the grandstand and clubhouse, readying for what would surely approach a record crowd of 120,000 as I'll Have Another would attempt to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown.
BELMONT, N.Y. -- Late Friday morning, a cluster of photographers was gathered inside the homestretch rail at Belmont Park, staking out positions for the hundreds of cameras that would be put in place to capture horse racing history a day later. In the parking lots surrounding the big racetrack in Queens, portable lighting towers were readied for use in illuminating the acres of parking lots that surround the oval. Inside, workers applied paint and polish to the grandstand and clubhouse, readying for what would surely approach the record crowd of more than 120,000, as I'll Have Another attempted to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown. Three weeks of anticipation were nearly over.
ELMONT, New York -- Early last Wednesday afternoon, Doug O'Neill was on his cellphone conducting a telephone interview. Since O'Neill trains I'll Have Another, who next Saturday will try to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, O'Neill has been doing a lot of this for the past month. At shortly after 1 p.m., he got a call waiting notification from his publicist, Kelly Wietsma. O'Neill paused his interview and went to Wietsma, who said, "We have to talk.''
California horse-racing authorities handed the trainer of Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another a 45-day suspension Thursday stemming from a 2010 race with another horse, but cleared him of giving that horse an energy-boosting cocktail.
The Kentucky Derby is, without a doubt, America's most iconic horse racing event. England has Royal Ascot, and Australians flock to the Melbourne Cup, but few meetings capture the spirit of a nation quite like the "Run for the Roses."
The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, is being billed as Round 3 between Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness Stakes champ Shackleford. That marketing hype -- in lieu of a Triple Crown attempt, build up the best storyline and pray for a healthy turnout -- is understandable though a bit shortsighted. The top seven finishers from the Kentucky Derby are back to contest the Belmont, making Saturday's "Test of the Champion" more than just a two-horse race.
Nineteen horses and their riders geared up on Saturday for the nation's most celebrated horse race -- and first leg of the Triple Crown -- as an estimated 150,000 spectators gathered to watch the 137th edition of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
LOUISVILLE -- Trainers preparing for the Kentucky Derby keep saying the same thing, over and over again. The race is wide open. There was Kiaran McLaughlin, a Kentucky native who saddled 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, standing in the morning cold and wind Wednesday on the Churchill Downs backstretch.
SAN ANTONIO -- In the moments before the 1973 Belmont Stakes, a stable girl accidentally kicked a water bucket near Secretariat as the great horse waited to head to the track. According to onlookers, the startled colt reared up on his hind legs and whinnied repeatedly, seemingly jumping out of his skin. He went on to crush rival Sham and take the Triple Crown with a staggering 31-length win.
Before we dive into the Belmont Stakes, let's look back at the Preakness. This space could not have been more wrong about Super Saver. The race looked to be set up perfectly for him and, indeed, he was in the garden spot stalking a good, but not unreasonable, pace.
1. CURLIN The decade's only two-time Horse of the Year was a tough-as-nails gamer who, according to trainer Steve Asmussen, "got better the more he got stretched out [pushed hard] in a race." Curlin came back on Street Sense in the 2007 Preakness to score one of the grittiest big-race victories in recent racing history, and then became just the second three-year-old in the 2000s to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. His owners did racing a favor by keeping him on the track as a four-year-old, and he won three more Grade I races before retiring.
These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.
BALTIMORE -- At shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday, wine magnate Jess Jackson conducted a media teleconference in advance of Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Jackson, 79, had purchased gifted 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra a week earlier and will run her in the Preakness against 12 colts, including unlikely Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
ELMONT, N.Y .-- We all fell for it, and we should have known better. After five weeks spent watching Big Brown dominate races in Kentucky and Maryland, it was just too easy to go along with trainer Rick Dutrow when he predicted victory for his colt this weekend in New York. That's right, we said, nodding in agreement, nobody else has even come close to the horse, so how can anybody hope to beat him now? So confident were we in his eventual victory that the big bay went off in Saturday's Belmont Stakes at odds of 1-4, the lowest since railbirds sent Spectacular Bid to the post as the 1-5 favorite in 1979. The outcome of the race was a foregone conclusion (never mind that the Bid had eventually lost his Belmont). This was going to be a cakewalk. All that was left was the winning.
Rick Dutrow is more than happy to explain that Saturday's Belmont Stakes is not a rider's race. He is, in fact, more than happy to explain that any race in which Big Brown is a participant is not a rider's race. Or a trainer's race. Or an owner's race.