If you followed my advice for betting on the Belmont Stakes, you’re in the black. So now what? The Triple Crown is over, and for horse racing fans, the most exciting part of the year is almost here, the summer season.
What did we learn from the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont? What are we looking for moving forward? Summer racing has the greatest number of good races coast-to-coast for a three month span. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines.
Always Dreaming earned the roses on the first Saturday in May on a sloppy track in a race that broke down for several contenders just steps out of the gate. He then finished out of the money at the Preakness a few weeks later. Classic Empire was the favorite going into the Kentucky Derby, but was banged around and raced wide, rallying to finish fourth. He looked home free after coasting past Always Dreaming in the Preakness, but got caught at the wire by Triple Crown newcomer Cloud Computing.
None of the aforementioned trio ran in the Belmont Stakes. Tapwrit, who is bred to love long distances, outlasted Irish War Cry to take the marathon one and a half-mile race in New York. Both horses ran poorly in Louisville, skipped the Preakness, and looked good last Saturday.
Not only the best three-year-old, but the best horse in the country last year was Arrogate. Interestingly, he didn’t break his maiden until early June, waited until late August to win his first stakes race, and then beat California Chrome in the Breeders Cup. In other words, this year’s three-year-olds, including the Triple Crown class, still has plenty of time. Also, it’s possible Mastery could return to the track. He was four-for-four and well on his way to being the heavy favorite in the Kentucky Derby before an injury in March.
The big dates for three-year-olds this summer are July 29th at Saratoga for the King’s Bishop, the Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 30th, Del Mar’s Pacific Classic on August 19th, and the Travers at Saratoga on August 26th. They all lead up to the Breeders Cup in the fall.
Abel Tasman did what no boy could this year. She won the Kentucky Oaks, the female equivalent of the Kentucky Derby, and then won a second marque event for the ladies, the Acorn Stakes on Belmont day in New York. Though it will be interesting to see if she wins key races this summer, with The Test and Alabama at Saratoga the two biggest events, it is one older female that deservedly has taken all the attention.
Songbird pushed her record to 12 wins and a second place finish in 13 races with a professional showing in the Ogden Phipps Stakes last Saturday. Her lone loss was by a nose to future Hall of Famer Beholder in last year’s Breeders Cup. Might she face the boys this year?
Another one to watch is Stellar Wind. She finished fourth in the Breeders Cup race that Beholder and Songbird battled in, is two for two this year, and waiting for another crack at the classification’s best.
Arrogate, who has earned more money than any horse in history thanks in large part to winning the Breeders Cup, Pegasus World Cup, and Dubai World Cup, will only race at Del Mar this year. He’s likely to go in the San Diego Handicap on July 22nd, the Pacific Classic, and then the Breeders Cup, which is in California come November.
Gun Runner, who finished second in Dubai, is expected to go in next weekend’s Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. And then there is five year old Shaman Ghost. He was second in the Pegasus, and has two strong wins since. Gun Runner and Shaman Ghost are just two horses I’d love to see challenge Arrogate in what should be a fun and eventful summer.
Photo Credit: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Blachly [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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