06/16/2014 10:38AM

Mary Simon: Random thoughts on Belmont aftermath

Tom Keyser
California Chrome is led by assistant trainer Alan Sherman after the Belmont Stakes.

Soon after California Chrome finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes, my sister fired off a private Facebook message likening the Triple Crown to the Hunger Games – a hyperbolic tantrum I chalked up to frustration and disappointment.

Racing fans were mad, and they hit the social media with a vengeance. Among the many ideas they espoused after the Belmont: The Triple Crown should be for 4-year-olds. It should be abandoned altogether. It was cruel … it was “rigged.” One poster claimed the New York Racing Association, loathing the idea of a Cal-bred Triple Crown winner, had “staged the race like a Broadway play.”

The Belmont of 2014 did raise more questions than it answered, the most obvious being: Why did California Chrome lose?

But more deeply and profoundly: Is something intrinsically wrong with the modern Thoroughbred? Is the Triple Crown broken? If so, can either be fixed?

When that splendidly charismatic red colt crossed the line fourth, tired and bloody, a nation of racing fans let out a collective inner moan … again.Brutal reason had told us he was a longshot at best to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner – despite those 4-5 tote-board odds – yet we’d dared hope our hero would be good enough that glorious afternoon to outrun a poor man’s pedigree, fresh legs, and blue bloods, while navigating a heart-testing distance never tried before. But that didn’t happen.

As Chrome returned through the tunnel, dripping sweat, nostrils still flaring, fans greeted him with scattered applause, acknowledging even in defeat the tremendous show he had put on for them through the spring. Few likely noticed the cloud of blood forming along the coronet band of his right fore, but they would hear about it – and hear quite loudly from his irate owner, whose post-race tirade damning the system soon raised the sporting rafters.

Tinkering with the Crown

Everyone by now is aware of Coburn’s rant and subsequent apology.

Coburn is a good guy – fun, entertaining, great for racing throughout Chrome’s jaunt down the Triple Crown trail. Two brief comments on his ill-advised remarks.

First, that “coward’s way out.” Back in 1920 Man o’ War’s connections believed 1 1/4 miles in early May asked too much of a 3-year-old; they held their incomparable champion from the Derby, then brought him back to conquer the world. Cowards, they were not.

As for limiting the Belmont/Preakness only to Derby entrants, well … An 11th hour hoof injury prevented A.P. Indy from competing for the first two jewels in 1992, though he recovered to win the Belmont and a Horse of the Year title … and this year’s Belmont champ lacked sufficient Derby points due to an illness. Neither was in the hands of cowards, and simple bad luck prevented their appearance at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Should such supremely talented colts have been punished for their springtime misfortunes? August Belmont II wouldn’t have thought so. In fact, he’d likely have quivered with rage at the idea of his namesake race being so denigrated.

Among those, besides Coburn and my sister, who believe the Crown requires “fixing” is NYRA trustee Stuart Janney, who contemplates elongating the time frame of the series to go from five weeks to eight weeks.

Would this be the end of world? No. It’s not as though that 35-day span was set in stone from Day 1. In the past, it has ranged anywhere from 28 to 43 days from start to finish, and it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the current schedule was settled upon. Three additional weeks may – or may not – diminish it, though certainly they would strip the Triple Crown of its modern-day yardstick.

Stretching out the progression should, theoretically, make it easier. That is the point, some might say. I, however, believe it should be difficult, the hardest thing to achieve in all of racing. Understand this: To win the Triple Crown means to do wonderful things, to defy astronomical odds, to take on all challengers, including fresh legs. It means a horse must be very good and sometimes very lucky. It isn’t meant to be a stroll in the park. Its achievement should place one firmly in the pantheon of immortals. It should be well-nigh impossible.

If we alter the Crown to make it easier to win, will it be from a sense of defeatism? From the sad belief that we simply cannot breed, raise, or train a horse capable of doing what runners of yesteryear did? Are we essentially admitting, then, that we’ve ruined the American Thoroughbred, via generations of unwise breeding practices and/or long-term dependence upon medication?

While some truth may abide in such speculation, there’s also an element of hogwash. With a bit of racing luck, we could be looking at four or five Triple Crown winners since Affirmed. Spectacular Bid may well have won in 1979 but for a safety pin rammed into his foot on Belmont Stakes morning. Real Quiet lost by a mere head-bob in 1998, and Silver Charm was barely blind-sided the year before. In ’99 Charismatic went bad late; Smarty Jones was passed in the final 100 yards after a fiery pace; and Chrome … beaten less than two lengths on a bloodied foot.

Cruel and unfair

Then, there are those who believe the Crown has crossed over to “cruel.”

“They may not get dragged off in a van and euthanized,” my sister vented. “But to run those races so close together, and cap it off with a mile and a half – It’s like some Hunger Games ordeal.

Say, what?

“Difficult” is not a synonym for “cruel.”

Six minutes of hard racing over something less than four miles in a five-week span for a well-conditioned athlete hardly qualifies as “cruel.”Not much more than a century ago, we ran our Thoroughbreds in four-mile heats, sometimes two or more a day … traveled 100 miles on foot, and then raced them again.

“How many horses run in all three of these races and are ever the same?” my sister demanded to know.

Well … let’s see. There’s been Shackleford and Mucho Macho Man, Will Take Charge, Animal Kingdom, Curlin, Point Given, Funny Cide, Medaglia d’ Oro, Real Quiet, Victory Gallop, Silver Charm, Free House, Skip Away, Hard Spun … and the list goes on from there.

While the Triple Crown trail is, indeed, taxing on those bold enough to undertake it in its entirety, it does not leave equine graveyards scattered along the East Coast. California Chrome strode from the track on Belmont Day, beaten and with a bloodied foot, but he had not been sacrificed at some savage racing crucible; he had simply been asked to do what top racehorses have been asked for generations – and had come within two lengths of reaching the mountaintop.

What to do?

Baseball did not despair when 45 years elapsed between Carl Yastrzemski and Miguel Cabrera’s “triple crowns,” and professional golf surely won’t restructure itself because nobody has ever swept the modern grand slam. Yet horse racing seems ripe for a stripping to the core.

We could elongate the Triple Crown, water it down, make it so it will gather small, mediocre fields each year … and still have no guarantee we’ll ever see another Triple Crown winner.

So, how about taking a grassroots perspective? Think our horses can’t handle the trail? Why not flip the calendar back a few decades and see what we did then that we’re not doing now?

For one thing, 100 percent of American Thoroughbreds in the 1970s – the decade of three Triple Crown winners – were not racing every single day on Lasix. They ran farther and more often back then, and they rebounded more quickly.

It’s been a long time since American breeders have looked at true stamina with a loving eye. We have instead bred heavily for speed and precocity. We’ve bred without particular regard for soundness, crossing bleeders to horses who broke down early … lightly raced milers with speedball mares. And surprise! We’re dumbstruck when we get horses unfit for the Triple Crown.


For me, California Chrome’s Belmont defeat was tough. As a California lass myself, I had ached to see a Cal-bred Triple Crown winner. This story line seemed almost too good to be true … and so it was.

As one who loves racing and who’s had the good fortune to witness three Triple Crown winners in her lifetime, I was greedy for at least one more before I shuffle off this mortal coil. But it would not be this year.

And, finally, as a girl at heart, I love a fairytale, and in horse racing they don’t serve them up much better than this, with the son of a $2,500 stallion and $8,000 mare taking star billing in racing’s grandest show. But he was upstaged by the son of a $150,000 stallion and $800,000 mare – the antithesis of my Cinderella story. And so it goes.

L. More than 1 year ago
Mary, great points and I TOTALLY agree with you in regards to this statement: "It’s been a long time since American breeders have looked at true stamina with a loving eye. We have instead bred heavily for speed and precocity. We’ve bred without particular regard for soundness, crossing bleeders to horses who broke down early … lightly raced milers with speedball mares. And surprise! We’re dumbstruck when we get horses unfit for the Triple Crown." I've been saying the SAME thing for the past 15 years. Here's another point. The winner of the 13th race on Belmont day came back FIVE days later and won again. So if a claimer can do a short turnaround like this, how come stakes horses can't? You can't tell me there is much of a difference between the horses because I don't buy it. Other than Argentina who has had 19 TC winners over the years (none since 1996 though), there's no questioning other TC winners or lack thereof from others countries. Japan has had 7, Germany has had 1, England hasn't had one since 1970 and only ONE horse that has won the first two legs even tried to complete the TC since then (there's been three who won the 1st two legs but the 1st two here did not race in the 3rd) and that TC isn't even a spec on anyone's mind anymore. And there are more countries including Canada who have had recent TC winners but not many but there's no call to change their TC's. My point is, the TC does NOT need fixing, the industry does. I will keep saying this: until racing fixes their INTERNAL problems in horse racing, they have NO business touching anything external. It's bad enough the BC is nearly a joke these days and can't stand by anything they preach. The TC is what is because of how hard it is. If people are that worried about winners, then stop the problems where they start: sales and breeding. There are many stallions right now we should NOT be breeding to, period. There are others who epitomize stamina and soundness and exceptional runners but don't get the books they deserve. The TC is the LAST tradition or anything resembling it in racing. Many of the former classic races aren't classic anymore and have been relegated to prep races for bigger races instead. That's pathetic, simple as that. It's no wonder all our good stock went to Japan and all the major European buyers stay away from our stock now.
L. More than 1 year ago
Really wish this site would quit changing my login name!
Dennis Lapp More than 1 year ago
Each of the three races is a great race in its own right. Little Current and Risen Star would likeltnhavebwon the Crown if not for insurmountable traffic problems in the Derby.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Good point. We often overlook the horses who won the Preakness and Belmont, but missed in the Derby. I always felt that Damascus would have fit quite well in the ranks of Triple Crown winners--certainly he was "great" enough. But, he had a bad day on May 6, 1967 when he "hung" in the final stages of the Derby and finished third behind Proud Clarion and Barb's Delight--two horses not fit to kiss his shoes on the best days of their lives, under normal circumstances. But such is racing. Of course, Damascus went on to win the Preakness and Belmont, and wrapped up his career at 4 with true Hall of Fame credentials. :)
Steve LaShomb More than 1 year ago
Touch nothing...change nothing. GOD...these are wild animals that love to run. This is there normal gait. Poor harness horses race every week, and that's not eventheir normal gait (Pace or Trot). Great article, MS. Simon. I enjoyed reading it. The next crown winner will go down as horse of the year, horse of the decade and be worthy!! Giddy up...I say.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Wild animals ? Not hardly ! This isn't the Electric Horseman .
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Hey, it's simple fix, the rules and sch. are set, ityou don't like it . . . don't play in it. As for your comments on Coburn, your wrong. He showed his true colors in his comments (several times during the live inteview and again on Sunday). He's nothing more than a lucky hick farmer who does not belong in the game. His failure to congtatz the winners is ture poor taste and boarding on low class. Do not forgive him or his outburst. I can't wait for him to try to get a good box or table on the right hand side of the country.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
He did get a bit out of control, Mr. Epstein ... and I sure wish he hadn't. No excuses. Thankfully, he did finally get around to apologizing--I imagine with a good arm-twist from his horrified wife and an embarrassed Art Sherman!
mike More than 1 year ago
You really sound like a badly broken record,Epstein. You've belittled with the theme of him living in a different part of the country than yourself. Tell me,if this "hick farmer" is so stupid how come he has a Derby/Preakness Winner and you obviously don't? lol
mike More than 1 year ago
BTW, spoken like a typical loud mouth New Yorker!!!!!!!!!!!
mike More than 1 year ago
BTW,spoken like a typical loud mouth New Yorker. Where's your Derby/Preakness winner?
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
What's with all this loud-mouth New Yorker stuff? Having just moved to the Big Apple from Kentucky within the last year, I find myself growing quite fond of loud-mouthed New Yorkers. :)
mike More than 1 year ago
Mary,was referring to Epstein. Almost every post he calls Mr. Coburn names,slamming him for being from a different part of the country and always making comments that he couldn't get seats in certain sections of racetracks in NY. As I've asked him where's his Derby/Preakness winner? He insults someone that's worked hard their entire lives. Frankly,doesn't sent well with me! I'm org from Miami although lived for many years in Tennessee,can't imagine living in some place like NY.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
It does get old, doesn't it? I've met Mr. Coburn, who basically is a very nice man. He went off like a bottle rocket after the Belmont--which was unfortunate. I wish he hadn't, and I'm sure his wife and Art Sherman wishes he hadn't. It gets tiresome to hear people continue to rake him over the coals for what was, essentially, a very human reaction to disappointment and frustration. Not the best sportsmanship in the world, but all too human. ... As for Mr. Epstein's "New York mouth" ... some of the biggest criticizers of Mr. Coburn have come from other parts of the country. Seems we raise big-mouths everywhere in our great land! Gotta love 'em. ;)
mike More than 1 year ago
Agreed! BTW,enjoyed your writing. You should write here more often. I talked to Mr. Coburn on the phone and he was very nice. People tend to pile on and judge as if they never made a mistake. You stated that you moved from KY. I go there few times each year and am a supporter of a horse retirement farm there as well as visiting the KY Horse Park cause I'm a big fan of Cigar. Was there in April on his bday.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Mike--I have one of the biggest mouths out there--and I often stick my foot in it. Which is probably why I was quick to defend Mr. Coburn. There, but for the grace of God, go I ... or something like that. ... Are you a supporter of Old Friends? Michael Blowen is one of my favorite people in the world. I'm also a big fan of Cigar at the KY Horse Park. I did a "Moneigh" with him out there a few years back, and also a couple with John Henry--not long before he died. Cigar is one of the very few horses I know who will actually take a paintbrush in his mouth and "paint" a canvas. Most only use their lips, and even then, require much persuasion. John Henry wouldn't even go along with that. The old grump would only agree to having the tip of his tail dipped in a colorful non-toxic paint pallette, then streaked across a sheet of paper. His sullenly-produced Moneighs are very real, though, and raise good money for a worthy cause. :)
mike More than 1 year ago
Mary, Yes,Old Friends,also was there in April. I've donated from time to time,also a horse rescue/rehab in Tucson,Heart of Tucson. Flew there three yrs ago to meet the then president of Hearts. Flew there last Jan/April to donate a little time helping with chores on the farm,although I've never did farm work before. Really enjoyed it,Judy the founder and pres. of Heart passed away last May. Regarding your comments on John Henry,met him for the first and only time three weeks prior to his passing. At the time he passed,was in Palm Springs and picked up a USA Today paper and read about it. As for Cigar,besides Zenyatta he's my all time fav,visited him three out of four of his bdays. As for Michael Blowen,can't find a finer individual. It's my honor to know him.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
You sound like a good soul, Mike. :)
mike More than 1 year ago
Thanks,but don't think BH would agree with you. lol Recently was banned for mostly defending CA Chrome among other things.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
BH? The Blood-Horse? Why would they ban you for defending California Chrome? BH must mean something else.
mike More than 1 year ago
No, Bloodhorse Mag. They had given banned me prior to Derby and Ron Mitchell let me post again and certain individuals that continued to slam Chrome,etc I told them what I thought of them,didn't curse them,but unloaded. The last straw some one that's a trouble maker, attacked a lady who made a comment about CC having fragile legs and this individual came down on her. I defended her and drew the second ban. Insult to injury the editor put a comment directly to the trouble maker that it was a nice chat,in other words like he did no harm. BloodHorse isn't the only ride in the park. Never could stand for anyone slamming horses when they run their eyeballs out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Epstein,why don't you come clean? it has nothing to do with Coburn's comments, it's all about him being different that brings your disdain to surface. You're not any better than he is,no matter what you think. One of my parents was a well known surgeon in Miami,so if you want to continue with the theme you're superior in intellect to Coburn,will lay odds you aren't a surgeon. I don't appreciate someone thinking they're better than the next person cause of the way they talk,look,etc. Fact is you're prejudice and jealous of Coburn. Don't think you're winning any Derby's in the near future.
Jeff Smith More than 1 year ago
Thank you mary simon for an excellent article with a top analysis on why the triple crown should be left alone-you are a person who truly understands the game of racing!
anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks for replying. What would happen if they didn't use lasix? Would some horses break down in the race or not run as well? Why did this practice begin?
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Here's my humble take on it, Anonymous. A couple of decades back, Lasix was OK'd for use on confirmed "bleeders"--those who that had visibly bled through the nostrils, either in races or workouts. Eventually, with advanced scoping techniques, it was discovered that most horses bled minutely in the trachea following exertion--AS DO humans when they exert themselves. It's a physiological fact. ... Lasix is a diuretic that thins normal excretia--mucous, blood, etc. (Is there a doctor in the house who can correct me if I'm wrong here?), thus clearing airways, and ultimately, "enhancing" performance. Very few horses actually "needed" the drug as a matter of life and death, but trainers increasingly wanted it--because if one horse enjoyed its performance-enhancing benefits, why not all of them? And so it came to be that nearly 100% of our racehorses today are running on this potent diuretic. Lasix is, of course, a strong urine-inducing drug that depletes a horse of electrolytes (along with the natural race-day sweating process). No WONDER they all take so long to rebound from competition these days!
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Yes some would not run well . Bleeding has nothing to do with the breeding of TBs. All horse breeds will bleed when giving maximum exertion. In decades gone by they used all sorts of Witch Doctor potions to try to prevent it . They also did things like wrap rubber bands very tightly around their tails and other goofy things like withholding water . Lasix works . It protects the horses & the most important link in the game . The players.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
You're wrong, Jackson. Gross bleeding IS genetic. "Bloody" Childers was a foundation sire of the breed, back in the 1700s, an unraced brother to the legendary Flying Childers. Hermit was a confirmed and notorious bleeder from a number of generations thereafter, and his offspring were completely riddled with the "disease" of bleeding. So, you are absolutely incorrect in saying that bleeding has nothing to do with the breeding of Thoroughbreds. It does ... and the use of Lasix on every single racehorse today only masks the problem. As far as I'm concerned, any horse who shows signs of being an outright, dangerous bleeder--horses like Summer Squall and Demons Begone (who could have choked on their own blood)--should be allowed to race on Lasix, but should have their registration papers taken away from them for breeding purposes. But, of course, the Jockey Club would never do this, and even if they tried, imagine the howls of protest from the owners of those stallions? As for "protecting the players?" BALONEY! Most tracheal bleeding is so minor as to be inconsequential in terms of performance. If ZERO horses were running with Lasix, the bettors would be handicapping a level playing field, just as they are when ALL horses are running on it. I say, take our so-called "delicate-flowers" off this drug, allow them to recuperate from a race at their own natural pace, and stop all the artificial, unnecessary fiddling... This only serves to give the sport a big, fat black-eye in the perception of the public. Just sayin, Jackson.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Okay Mary why do horses of all breeds bleed from extreme exertion ? Is it because TB breeders bred a disease into them ? It's not because they have Bartlett's Childers blood that's for sure. Bartlett's Childers is the great great grandsire of Eclipse . Why don't you tell us how you propose to eliminate all Eclipse blood from the breed ? Oh you have no proposal for that . What a surprise ! Like I said in a previous post anti-Lasix zealots can't be reasoned with because they have no intellectual integrity . What they have is an agenda . Many of those race watchers and horsey lovers think racing is about watching races. You're a racing historian, tell the people how well that worked out early in the last century. Watching or writing about races doesn't pay the bills . Betting on races does. The players that actually churn some money don't want to go back to the bad old days . I'll bet sasquatch races before I bet on horses without Lasix again ! I couldn't care less what the non-wagering public thinks. If the non-wagering public thinks it's a black-eye so be it .
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Jackson--Like I said, research has shown that a certain level of tracheal "bleeding" is perfectly, perfectly, perfectly NORMAL, in both man and beast. It simply HAPPENS upon exertion. It is not dangerous, it is not fatal, it does not apparently or severely slow said person or creature down to any marked degree. Thus, they do not all need to be "treated" for it with heavy-duty diuretics in order to "protect" handicappers such as yourself. (There, I'm am presuming.) ... As for Bloody (Bartlett's) Childers--Thank the good Lord that all of his descendents did not inherit his extreme blood-vessel-rupturing disorder. (Just as the vast majority of Queen Victoria's descendents did not inherit her hemophilia.) If they had, we'd have no breed of Thoroughbred at all. That said, we do have bleeders amongst us, horses that DO require legitimate treatment with Lasix ... for without it, their lives might be in danger each time they raced. Thankfully, studies have shown that few racehorses fall into that extreme category. I still don't quite get why you're so hot-to-trot for drugging our racehorses up to the eyeballs on race day, come hell or high water. One might think you are a racetrack veterinarian, who stands most to profit from it. I mean, really, Jackson. What's in it for you? I have to wonder. ;)
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
A problem with no lasix is this. Once a horse bleeds they are prone to getting worse and worse. Hence we put them on lasix and many other adjunct meds to counter this problem. Without lasix they essentially become problematic bleeders with eventual consequences leading to pneumonia low red blood counts...high white cell counts, weakened systems inevitably. This is why the rules have been established by Jockey Club for bleeding penalties...10 days before next race for first time, 30 second time, 30 third time with published work supervised by attending track vet. Year fourth time to a ban . Within calendar year.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Jackson. All due respect. Bleeding is as hereditary as week bone structures, bowed tendons, foot problems, etc.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Mr. Cook: You just taught me something, re: Lasix. Thank you!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
You're welcome. This debate walks a fine line as far as health concerns go. The PE effects are another ballgame. As is genetic weakening of our breed due to lasix. We need more discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No one talks much about the trainers, and secondarily, the owners. They more than the horse's breeding control what goes on in racing, including how frequently they race. I believe these people are much more conservative than they were 40-80 years ago. They don't seem that primed to win the triple crown, unlike in most sports where ownership spends big to win. I sense they often use the horse's condition as an excuse. I'm pretty sure they run horses according to business practices that work for them, that have nothing to do with sport. I also suspect that some of these training regimens wear out the horses more than the races. Like galloping them every day for 2 miles instead of working them. There's too much variation in training practices to be able to trust much of it, not per the horses's safety but per their condition to race. The sense of competition isn't there, it's more like horse kerping.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Interesting points, Anonymous. But intuitively, one would think that owners would be rabid to win the Triple Crown however they could ... conservatively, extravagantly, whatever it took to get there. I'm still convinced we're breeding too much for speed, precocity, and unsoundness ... then pumping virtually all of our Thoroughbreds full of race day Lasix, which, of course, drains them of electrolytes--which, in turn, disallows a quick re-bound. But, that's only my humble theory. I'm no veterinarian or trainer. Merely a historian and interested observer.
Mike Walls More than 1 year ago
Why can't we simply strive for greatness and applaud those who achieve it? The bar should not be lowered for the sake of those who decry its height.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
I couldn't agree more, Mr. Walls!
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
100% correct
L. More than 1 year ago
Exactly! Well said!
Jerry Cumberland More than 1 year ago
I simply haven't noticed horses losing the Belmont because they were wore out. That aspect has been overblown in my opinion. The race is simply a tactical nightmare.
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Hi Mary, A fascinating read, as always. On the topic of Man O' War; I believe that Mr. Riddle didn't really enjoy racing out "West" in Kentucky and had implied that Man O' War might not start in the 9F Preakness, even though he had been training in Maryland. And that 11F Belmont was against one other horse that he beat by 20L while breaking the TR by better than 3 secs. When he finally did run at 10F it was in the Travers and "Big Red" set a TR that stood for 42 years. As for baseball; even though it was 45 years between Miggy and Yaz for a Baseball TC. Frank Robinson won a TC the previous year for the 1966 O's. So I suppose one never knows. The Greats should be Great. It goes with the territory:)
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
Yes, the East Coast was Mr. Riddle's playground back then, and now that you mention it, I do recall that Mr. Riddle had very little interest in shipping Man o' War west.. He knew he had the best horse on the planet, and probably didn't care much one way or the other about a "Kentucky" Derby. After all, there was no such thing as a "Triple Crown" in 1920, so why travel a thousand miles for a wreath of roses when there was plenty of money to be had in his own backyard?
Ann More than 1 year ago
In 1920, the Belmont was the preeminent classic in the US, with its 'Guineas' race, the Withers, as its lead in. The Preakness was a 9f handicap, a prep race, that didn't start to gain status until the late 1920s. The Kentucky Derby was seen from New York, where most of the top racing took place then, as a nice regional race. It would take Matt Winn a decade more to bring his race up to the status of the Belmont.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Sorry Ann but The Preakness was worth 3 times as much as The Belmont & The Derby was also worth more.
Mary Simon More than 1 year ago
But Jackson ... In 1920, the Belmont was still considered more prestigious by the racing powers-that-be. And Riddle, if nothing else, fancied himself a "power-that-be." ;)