The New York Racing Association always has done a first-class job of promoting the Belmont Stakes, the ancient 1.5-mile classic that is the third and final jewel, after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Thoroughbreds only get one chance to run in the Triple Crown races. Unlike the other major sports, there’s no next year. But the Wests know that the horse always comes first, and their decision is as right as the one that cost them the Kentucky Derby.
Although I’m probably in the minority, I prefer to look at the 145th Derby as the beginning of a new era in which the sport pays more than lip service to caring about the safety of both jockeys and horses.
Country House finished second in the slop before an objection was raised, causing a lengthy delay while stewards repeatedly reviewed several angles of video footage before he was elevated into the winner’s circle. Billy Reed says the stewards made the right decision.
By My Standards won the Louisiana Derby at 22-1 odds and will likely be 20-1 or higher in the Kentucky Derby. He’s going to be off six weeks between races, but that hasn’t stopped the son of former Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldencents from a ton of early chatter.
American sports journalism lost a giant Friday when Dan Jenkins passed at 89. He wrote about golf and college football better than anyone ever has or ever will. He was unique, an original, copied by many but surpassed by none.
The premature retirement of Justify is only the latest example of thoroughbred racing's unique dilemma. It is a business more than a sport. And that can break the hearts of those who appreciate the majesty of the animals and the opportunity to bet on them.