Racing’s Triple Crown series will look different this year
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The stately Belmont Stakes, to be contested on June 20, has recently told the racing world it won’t be rocking its luxury liner of a race this year.
After the other two legs of the imperial Triple Crown series — the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes — made changes to their racing dates, the people at Belmont Park and the New York Racing Association decided to do what they could to settle a little normalcy on the well-advertised racing series.
So, the summer schedule of the most important three-year-old races will see the Belmont be first on the docket with a June 20 date, to be followed by the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 and then the Preakness on Oct. 3.
No fans will be cramming the infield and stands for the Belmont. Instead of the stamina-testing mile-and-a-half distance that has made Belmont Park’s decree that its leg of the Triple Crown is “The Test of a Champion,” the distance has been sliced back to only a mile-and-one-eighth.
Favored after the Florida Derby, Holy Bull and Arkansas Derby were run are undefeated Charlatan, popular Tiz the Law and Nadal. With no more original prep races scheduled before the newly-minted Belmont Stakes, those three thoroughbreds will likely draw the most interest from the wagering public.
Tiz the Law and calm and unruffled trainer Barclay Tagg have Belmont Park as their home grounds. The twosome won the Champagne Stakes at the track. Charlatan and trainer Bob Baffert won one of the two divisions of the Arkansas Derby in March. Nadal, also trained by Baffert, won the second division of the Arkansas Derby.
For many decades, the Triple Crown races were jammed into a quick-paced five week period with the Belmont Stakes coming only three weeks after the middle jewel (Preakness), which came quickly (two weeks) after the Kentucky Derby. This year’s expanded schedule will provide little in the way of excuses for owners, trainers and jockeys because of the spacing of the races.
With so few professional or amateur sporting events on any state’s calendar, thoroughbred racing has drawn more support than it has since Secretariat was gracing the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated magazines back in 1973.
There is some racing across the land right now. But where there is live racing, there are no fans in the stands. However, wagering has lit a bonfire of renewed attention on the sport, most recently pushed to the dusty side rooms of people’s waning interest.
Will there be Major League Baseball? Or an NBA season with a playoff format? How about college or professional football in the fall? There will be a Triple Crown series. And distanced betting will be allowed.
The four-legged stars of this fall might be Tiz the Law, Charlatan and Nadal.