Belmont Stakes closes 2019 Triple Crown series
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on Long Island. Home of the one-and-a-half-mile Belmont Stakes. Home of the third leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series for three-year-olds.
No Triple Crown this year. Diminished public interest now that no thoroughbred won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
But a large throng will ride the rails to Belmont Park. The college-age and high school crowd will traipse into the expansive infield to listen to hours of music and toss frisbees for hours before the near-marathon race.
War of Will is going to be there for trainer Mark Casse. He won the Preakness stakes from an inside post position. Trainer Bill Mott’s Tacitus, who skipped the Preakness after a problem-filled run in the Kentucky Derby, returns for a last Triple Crown flourish. Everfast, a surprise second in Baltimore at the Preakness, has been prepped for this race. And Tax, a New York-based threat, was fourth in the troubled Kentucky Derby.
The so-called “racing industry” keeps a focused eye on happenings in the Belmont Stakes. Thoroughbreds with stamina and endurance are still cherished by millionaire owners. Telling prospective customers at your breeding shed that Curlin or Shackelford won the Belmont Stakes is worth several wheelbarrows full of $100 bills.
Justify brought the well-heeled aristocracy and then need-to-be-seen thousands to Belmont last year because he was readying for a Triple Crown success.
There is no Justify this year, but the same coiffed women and pasted-on-smiles men will be back with champagne flutes in hand.
Thoroughbred racing dives back to the last pages of sports sections when the Belmont Stakes is history. Summer meets at Saratoga, Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Chicago and the remaining days at Belmont attract some interest. But nothing like a Triple Crown event, especially the Kentucky Derby.
The deep track at Belmont is famous (or infamous) for its sand content.. Even from 100 years ago, Hall of Fame thoroughbreds have lost there. Justify, American Pharoah and the fabulous Secretariat didn’t join the list that had fallen at the track known as the “Graveyard of Champions”.
In fact, Secretariat stamped his immortality in the Belmont Stakes when won by an electrifying 31-1/2 lengths in 1973.
This year’s Belmont will likely slip from memory in quick order. Attention will revert back to Major League baseball, family vacations and dad’s golf handicap.
And then Saratoga will open in late July and give fans the Travers Stakes, other age-old stakes races, a county fair atmosphere and grandstands maintained since the Civil War.
And nearly a year from now, the Kentucky Derby will be back again to occupy people’s interest for just a short period of time.