Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two Days to Go

The Belmont is on Saturday. The final leg of the Triple Crown. Thirty-four years since Affirmed won it in 1978. Four years since the last time a horse went into the Belmont after winning both the Derby and the Preakness (Big Brown... who is the first and only horse to win those first two and leave the gate of the third and not even finish the race.)

I'll Have Another is now considered the leading 3 year old of the season. Of course, if he hadn't won BOTH of the first two TC legs he'd just be thought of as ONE of the promising 3 year olds. He is facing a number of opponents whom he has already beaten... Dullahan, Union Rags, Optomizer... and a few he hasn't run against, for a total of 11 other 3 year old boys. Once again, IHA has gotten an outside post position... 11... which is just fine. And his jockey, the young and inexperienced Mario Gutierrez, is riding 5 horses on Belmont's Friday card. He is hoping to get a feel for the Belmont track which is different than other tracks he's raced on because it is bigger, making it harder to judge where he is relative to the finish line. If he screws it up, he'll won't be the first jock to stop a Triple Crown from happening, but it is hardly something he'll want to remember late nights 20 years from now.

The rules at Belmont Park and the powers that control racing in NYC right now... NOT the racing commission, but the mayor and his crew who took over a few months back... have SEEMED to conspire against IHA, Doug O'Neill (his trainer) AND racing fans who hunger for another Triple Crown winner. (A number of people have whispered/shouted that it is conspiracy against California horses, but I do not share that opinion... sometimes a coincidence, or a series of them, is just a coincidence or a series of them.) Another is not going to race with his customary flair strip. O'Neill says it's no problem; he uses them on ALL the horses he trains and IHA is not a bleeder. Every one of the Belmont colts has been isolated to a specific barn on the Belmont grounds and had to be in residence there by noon yesterday. Usually that is not a requirement... some horses, like Another, arrive early and usually stay in whatever barn they're housed in from the start and some horses arrive on the day the race is run... but supposedly this new rule is for security purposes as well as allowing race officials to keep a close eye on medications, etc that each colt gets (and an even closer eye on Doug O'Neill who is facing a 45 day suspension in CA.) And finally... I hope... one of the unions at Belmont Park has worked the last 2 years without a contract and is threatening to go on strike tomorrow. Regardless, the race is on Saturday and it will all be over but the shouting 2-1/2 minutes later.

My prediction for the order of finish, based as much on wishful thinking as anything else, is:
I'll Have Another
Union Rags
Street Life
and the rest of the field.

I'll most like watch the race in the bedroom instead of the tv room. The dogs in the bedroom have heard me jumping up and down and yelling at the tv... don't want to frighten Emy's kids in the tv room!

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