Belmont Stakes Has Curious Field, Triple Crown Drama

 Always Dreaming fans can always dream, but not today.  Cloud Computing fans may be doing a little tech talk, but he doesn’t figure today either – having to stay at home in the barn, per trainer’s orders.

 

So, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the winner of the Preakness Stakes are left to eat a few oats and watch from a stall window.  And the racing world awaits a new Triple Crown race winner to join in the festivities.

 

Who will emerge?  It truly is anyone’s guess at this point. After all, this year’s crop of 3-Year-Olds has been a veritable muck bucket right from the beginning.

 

Today presents a grand opportunity for one of the 12 (now 11) teams to stamp themselves as a true contender for the Summer Stakes and as a contender for the remaining 2017 Stakes card – including the season-ending Breeders’ Cup Classic.

 

At this point in time, the true champion – 4YO Arrogate – is looking for a little competition to spice up the chatter mill on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup.

 

Today, there are several contenders that hope to lay claim to not only a shot at the big boys and big races later this year, but also etch their name into the “August Belmont Trophy”.  After all, this is truly one of racing’s greatest challenges.

 

The Belmont Stakes – at 11/2 grueling miles – is the longest of the Triple Crown races.  It is also – with the 149th edition being held today – the longest running of the Triple Crown races.  A new champion will be crowned today and will join the Triple Crown winner’s club.    Who will it be?

 

Perhaps it will be J Boys Echo, trained by Dale Romans and reunited with ol’ buddy Robby Albarado, who is newly in the saddle this week after sustaining a broken leg in a riding accident at Keeneland this spring.

 

According to Romans, J Boys Echo had the best work of his career last weekend and has never been better – including when he dominated in the Gotham Stakes over at Aqueduct Park earlier this year.

 

“Best he has ever been,” said Romans.  “Never better.”

 

Going into today’s race, Romans has saddled eight horses for the Belmont Stakes.  He has finished third in half of those.  Today, he would like to move up the ladder and into the winner’s circle.

 

“I sure would like to inch a little closer to that winner’s circle.  Maybe jump in it,” he said with a laugh.

 

But it won’t be easy – even with the announced departure of Classic Empire earlier this week, due to an abscess in his hoof.  There will be legitimate contenders – such as Irish War Cry (the Morning Line Favorite who won the Wood Memorial), Tapwrit (who won the Tampa Bay Derby), Gormley (who won the Santa Anita Derby), and Lookin at Lee (who ran 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness and will be the only colt to make all three legs of the Triple Crown this year).

 

Another contender, Epicharis, scratched this morning and a new shooter, the talented Meantime could break thru with a clean trip. There’s also the Pletcher crowd favorite, Patch.

 

So, intrigue abounds.  And, 11 horses will pound the Gotham City dirt as hard as the chests of the owners, trainers and fans alike. At the end of it all, there will be a new Triple Crown race winner. The result of answered prayers will spring renewed hopes, sweet dreams and higher stakes for sure.

Let’s all pray for blue skies, a clean trip and healthy athletes after the fray.

 

And may the best horse win.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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