Monday, June 08, 2009

Belmont Re-cap

So, Summer Bird won the Belmont Stakes at 11-1 on Saturday and ended the dreams of Calvin Borel to win the Jockey Triple Crown with Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra. Borel guided Mine That Bird to a very credible third-place finish behind Summer Bird and runner-up, Dunkirk. We end the Triple Crown season with two longshot winners (both Sired by Birdstone) and a filly winning the Preakness and validating herself as the best three-year-old of this class. As a matter of fact, Rachel Alexandra worked out on Monday at Churchill Downs, going six furlongs in 1:13.4 and galloping out seven in 1:28 flat. The talk is that we will still will see her go in the Mother Goose later on this meeting at Belmont Park. It is highly likely that she will challenge the boys again, either in the Haskell at Monmouth or the Travers at Saratoga.

I think the one thing that needs to be asked in the wake of the Belmont Stakes this weekend is, "What was Alan Garcia thinking?". Garcia was the rider aboard Charitable Man, who was one of the three favorites in the Belmont. The racetrack on Saturday favored speed. Anyone who got to the lead was just about home free. I had picked Charitable Man before knowing that the track was playing this way on Saturday. Charitable Man was allegedly the lone speed in the field. He got out of the gate very well and then, instead of going right to the front, Garcia allowed Dunkirk to sneak through on the inside of him and get the all-important front-running position. Charitable Man settled in fourth place and that was where he ended up at race's end. Meanwhile, Dunkirk finished 2nd (holding off a charging Mine That Bird and getting passed by the only come-from-behind horse all day, Summer Bird). If Garcia gets proper position out of the gate with Charitable Man, the outcome on Saturday could have been entirely different.

So, the Triple Crown season is over and it was a fine one, but it won't produce any legendary greatness, unless of course, Rachel Alexandra goes on to eclipse Ruffian, Regret, Lady's Secret, Azeri, and any other great filly you can think of to become an all-time champion. Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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