Today California Chrome had a chance to take home The Triple Crown, if he could just cross the wire first. Instead he finished in a deadheat for fourth. From where I was sitting, he just didn’t have the distance in him, but quickly after the race we had a desk jockey (sports commentator) blaming the jockey for a bad ride (I disagree – thought the jockey did a great job) and a really upset owner claiming it was ‘the coward’s way out’ referencing how fresh horses showed up for the race (having not raced in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness or both) and then having the other jockeys gang-up on his horse in the race. No matter what side you’re on, horse racing gets people emotional.
I have a real issue with how Thoroughbreds are generally trained and prepared for racing (in North America). It confounds me how almost every year we sit and ask the same question: Will so and so be able to make the distance of The Belmont Stakes? Heck, sometimes we’re asking that question at The Kentucky Derby. While there are clearly horses of sprinting bloodlines, none of those are ever being aimed at The Triple Crown, why are the horses aimed at mile+ races not being trained and conditioned for the longest distance possible? That just makes sense to me. Even if the horse only ever races once in its life at that distance, it only makes sense to prepare for it. It doesn’t hurt the horse to have more stamina then is used in most races. I never trained my Standardbreds just a mile; that would have been stupid. And it never was good if a horse staggered across the mile marker in a training session, even if that training session was at race speed. Nope, I’ll never understand the thinking of these TB trainers.
Steve Coburn thinks that only the twenty horses that start The Kentucky Derby should be eligible to race in the The Preakness, and only those that race in both the first two legs should be eligible to race in The Belmont Stakes. On one hand, he’s got a point. On the other hand, how about you tell your trainer to condition your horse better and train for the distance, then you won’t feel cheated when your horse loses – Mr. ‘I got the NY Racing Commission to change their rules and allow my horse to wear a breathing strip’.
I’m disappointed another year has gone by without a Triple Crown winner. Rest assured the day it happens, that horse and his team of humans will have deserved it…at least until someone claims it was a bad crop of three-year olds.