In &ldquo;The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes: A Comprehensive History,&rdquo; author Richard Sowers made good on both the length of the title and the promise it conveyed. From the birth of the Belmont in 1867 to the series of 2013, when Orb, Oxbow, and Palace Malice cut the Triple Crown three ways, Sowers goes granular on just about every piece of historical data imaginable. There are pictures, too.Year by year, Sowers marches through the classic races, sprinkling nuggets of trivia as he goes. I did not remember, for instance, that Vice President Richard Nixon presented the Woodlawn Vase to Gladys Mills Phipps after her Bold Ruler won the 1957 Preakness. And I&rsquo;m certain I never knew that Braulio Baeza&rsquo;s contract with Darby Dan expired on April 30, 1967, allowing him to choose Successor over Proud Clarion for the Derby. Oops.Sowers also allows himself the subjective fun of anointing the &ldquo;Best Horse&rdquo; to have competed in the classic races in each year, with extensive justification supplied. Most of the time, the choice is obvious &ndash; the 11 Triple Crown winners needed no embellishment &ndash; but in several cases the choice was based on what the Triple Crown competitors achieved after the spring of their 3&#45;year&#45;old campaigns. In that way, he was considering both the Crown and the Crop.For instance, in 1931 Twenty Grand was just a bad trip in the Preakness away from winning the Triple Crown. However, Sowers went for Equipoise as his standout from the foals of 1928. He was injured finishing fourth in the Preakness and did not return until April of 1932, after which he won 21 races at ages 4, 5, and 6, carrying as much as 135 pounds to victory.Sowers held his nose and selected Cravat as his &ldquo;best&rdquo; from the classic crowd of 1938, noting that &ldquo;there have been few in which so many had such similar credentials,&rdquo; though none were very inspiring. Dauber won the Preakness and finished second in the Derby and the Belmont, but he was injured shipping to California and never raced again. Cravat, second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, soldiered on to run well against older horses before winning a cluster of big races as a 4&#45;year&#45;old, including the Brooklyn, Suburban, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.Then there was 1957 and the embarrassment of riches bestowed by what is still considered the greatest crop ever. The Triple Crown once again went three ways: Iron Liege beat Gallant Man, Round Table, and Bold Ruler in the Derby; Bold Ruler won the Preakness without facing either Gallant Man or Round Table; and Gallant Man beat Bold Ruler in the Belmont, while Round Table returned to California. All, save Iron Liege, earned their way into the Hall of Fame, and Bold Ruler became the greatest stallion of his era. But it was Round Table who left the deepest mark as a racehorse, winning 43 of 66 starts, three turf championships, and 1958 Horse of the Year.Now that the 2019 Triple Crown is in the books, the floor is wide open to nominations for this year&rsquo;s honor. There were an unprecedented four &ldquo;winners,&rdquo; what with Country House sliding under the Derby roses after the disqualification of Maximum Security. Preakness winner War of Will, badly bothered in Kentucky, avoided the &ldquo;what&#45;if&rdquo; speculation by folding in the Belmont, while stablemate Sir Winston has become the colt of the hour after leading a packed field under the wire in New York. In the meantime, Honor Code, Roadster, Long Range Toddy, Global Campaign, and Vekoma are waiting in the wings, all stuck on one major victory apiece as the second half of the season approaches.There was understandable disappointment that no colt emerged this spring with convincing star power. Maximum Security still could be the one, after his Florida and Kentucky derbies, but he seems to be a fragile lad, and who knows when he&rsquo;ll run again. Tacitus stubbornly refuses to run a poor race, Game Winner lingers, clinging to his Eclipse Award, and then there is the horse who tiptoed right to the brink of the classics, then coughed.Reached on Monday morning, Richard Mandella was innocently asked by a caller if Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach had returned yet to his cushy Santa Anita stall. The son of War Front, the scratched Derby favorite, underwent throat surgery May 4.&ldquo;He&rsquo;s on his way,&rdquo; Mandella said, trying hard not to sound excited. &ldquo;He&rsquo;ll be here tonight.&ldquo;The throat had a little more reaction after the surgery than usual,&rdquo; the trainer continued. &ldquo;There was a little more swelling that had to get down. But it&rsquo;s down pretty good now. He&rsquo;s been riding under tack in the barn at WinStar, and I&rsquo;ll continue to ride him under tack here until he gets even better. But hopefully that won&rsquo;t be too long.&rdquo;Asked if Omaha Beach was taking longer to heal from the procedure than expected, Mandella called on the experience of a long career searching in vain for such answers.&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s one that&rsquo;s going to take more time it&rsquo;s always a good one,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The ones that can&rsquo;t run, they get right over it.&rdquo;At least, in this case, we know Omaha Beach can run. And even though he missed the Triple Crown, he still could turn out to be the best of the bunch.