Sunday, June 08, 2014

Belmont Bummer

Aw, Dang!  The big red Redneck horse from outback SLOTown didn't make it.  The fairy tale turned south as California Chrome was beat out by fresh(er)  horses.  One of his owners caused everyone's eyebrows to fly off their faces when he breached the usual Gentlemen"s Racing Codes of Silence & Suck-it-Up Sportsmanship and lashed out at the "spoilers," -- those owners who held their horses back, fresh horses that didn't run in the Derby or the Preakness.  Called them out for taking the "cowards way,"withholding their horses from the real test just to take a run at and knock off any possible Triple Crown possibles. 

You could just imagine the harumphing that would be taking place in  the genteel clubhouses across the racing demimonde that evening.  Bad form, old man.  Bad form.  But then, what can you expect from these hick upstarts from (sniff) California.

Well, hell, I'm glad the old guy got it out on the table.  He's right.  If the Triple Crown is supposed to be some ultimate test of horseflesh, then they should go ahead and set it up that way: Can't run your horse in one without running your horse in all of 'em. That way, they're all stressed and exhausted together. Plus, you'd be testing all of them on the shorter tracks for speed, on the longer course for endurance and on all three for stamina and strength.  Then, whatever triple winner came out of the grueling slog could truly be said to be something special.  The best of the best.

As it is now, it's more of a crapshoot rather than some kind of ultimate race.  And remains unfair to those horses who have done the Derby and the Preakness and then have to not only go the extra distance at Belmont, but have to do so against fresh, rested mounts. 

So I say, let's kick it up a notch:  Change the rules and go for the Grand Slam -- Derby, Preakness, Belmont -- all in.  Then hope California Chrome has some long-legged running-fool babies who come off the Harris Ranch and head east to kick some ass.

Meantime, good job, Chrome.  You're one hell of a horse who took the country and your owners on a pretty wonderful ride.  Thanks!


Alon Perlman said...

It is the system though, you can't blame the other owners for calculating their best economic interest and acting on it.
This is real life.
Unlike the politics of our democracy, where people can be convinced by a false narrative to vote away the very things they want to protect.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Good comment Alon. I also wondered if prior Triple Crown winners competed in a field of other horses that were fresh or did they compete with horses from the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness? It has been so long since there was a winner, I don't recall much from then.

Cheri said...

Couldn't agree with you more Ann. I knew it would be passed off as his being a "sore loser" rather than a man with a valid point.

Mike Green said...

Never going to happen because horse racing is inextricably intertwined with gambling. And money makes the rules. What do you think would happen if they changed it like you want? I'll tell you, the odds on the first winner would drop like a rock and nobody would place bets on any other horse. Not good for the gaming side for sure and THAT is where the decision will lie.

Churadogs said...

Interesting points, y'all. Was talking with a friend and he said this triple-crown "tradition" started way back. The Derby was the first "big deal" and other milionaires (i.e. Belmont) wanted their own state and horses to have their own fancy-schmanzy derbies so they set up their own tracks and special races. Over time, likely because the races were close in time (so as to take advantage of the "fashionable racing season") these three became linked in the public's mind (and with the media's help, the newspapers of the day loving a good story.)

So these three appear to be a race for best horse. In reality, they're three unrelated races. You can enter one or two or three. And a horse that wins one ain't necessarily a "better" horse than any other. He just happened to win that particular race on that particular day.

However, Chrome's co-owner does have a point. Since we've sort of created this mythic Triple Crown, it is an unfair competition for a double winner to go against a fresh, rested horse. But, like Mike said, horse racing isn't about horses. It's about gambling money.

Additionally, one TV commenter observed that perhaps the reason we haven't had a triple crown winner is we're not breeding horses with the old time stamina the other triples had? Certainly, something's at work here.

La Chrome's going to be entered in the Santa Anita Derby later this summer. Will be fun to see how he does. Wouldn't it be a hoot if he returns to the Derby next year? (probably be too old by then)