The 142nd Belmont Stakes on Saturday afternoon could be very reminiscent of the 141st Belmont Stakes from 2009. The 2009 Belmont served as a coming-out party for the eventual Champion Three-Year-Old, Summer Bird. He would go on to win the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup before the year was out, while also getting beaten by both Horse Of The Year finalists, Rachel Alexandra (Haskell Invitational) and Zenyatta (Breeders' Cup Classic). Will Drosselmeyer now take his cue from a year ago and go on to become a bigger factor in what has proven to be a disappointing three-year-old class in 2010?
The answer to that question still lies in the future (although Drosselmeyer's connections are already being reported to be heading to the Travers at Saratoga this summer). For right now, we will have to content ourselves with what was a fine triumph by a horse that had at times in the past tempted his backers with bursts of brilliance that resulted in near-misses. There was no such disappointment on Saturday as Drosselmeyer gutted out a courageous victory over the closing Fly Down and the stubborn First Dude to win the 142nd Belmont Stakes by three-quarters of a length. The win by Drosselmeyer was the first in the Belmont Stakes for both trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith (who has now finally completed a career Triple Crown).
The true disappointment in this Belmont was the favorite, Ice Box. Trainer Nick Zito was reported to say that the horse didn't handle the hot, humid weather and that Ice Box displaced his palate during the race. I think that the horse's chances were also compromised by the fact that the horse was much closer to the pace than he had been in recent races. He was closer to mid-pack than the tail end through the first turn and was never really able to unleash his patented charge that won him the Florida Derby and earned him a driving second in the Kentucky Derby. Whether it was the weather, the palate, or the race tactics, we just didn't see the best of Ice Box in the Belmont. He crossed the line ninth and was moved up to eighth after the strangest story of the day, which was Uptowncharlybrown. Uptowncharlybrown finished the race in fifth position, but was disqualified to last after it was discovered that his weight was less than he should have been carrying due to losing the lead pad to make up an eight-pound difference between his rider and the required weight of 126 pounds. I have never heard of this happening in any race, much less a Triple Crown race, but it certainly added to the oddity of the Belmont Stakes.
Finally, one side note about Belmont Park. They will have a $930,000 carryover into their Pick Six on the Wednesday afternoon program. Some experts believe that the pool for Wednesday's Pick Six will end up in the $3,000,000 range. It should make for some high interest in what otherwise would be an ordinary day at Belmont. I guess it really will be a good thing for some folks that NYRA didn't have to shutter the doors after Belmont Stakes Day.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of drf.com