Hoping for rain at the Belmont Stakes? The 140th Preakness Stakes was held on Saturday, May 16, 2015, at Pimlico Race Course. It was a beautiful day at the track until late afternoon when thunder came rumbling in coupled with flashes of lightning and then a torrential downpour. We were certain that the horses would be taken back to the paddock to wait the storm out but instead we heard “Riders up!” from the loudspeakers, and then the riders and horses headed toward the start gate in the pelting rain to load for the second leg of the Triple Crown. On pins and needles, we watched American Pharoah’s stunning win by approximately six and a quarter lengths. If American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes, he will become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history. The last winner was Affirmed in 1978. Joe Drape wrote a great article post-race chronicling American Pharoah’s win (see link):
In addition to the inclement weather, post-race news sources said that an added challenge was that Preakness horses carried additional weight because of the rain soaked equipment. American Pharoah rose to the challenge with vigor.
The day proved to be extra fun given that I made two news sources because of my custom fascinator, compliments of Carol Bader, of Del Mar Hat Company! (see link)
The same picture was also posted in the Baltimore Sun.
How will American Pharoah fare in the upcoming Belmont Stakes? He will be tired from his two previous races, as well as facing fresh contenders, including Frosted, the Derby’s fourth place winner who did not race in the Preakness. According to the Bloodhorse, Todd Pletcher, will also be sending out three top-notch horses: Materiality, Carpe Diem, and Madefromlucky.
We all recall Steve Coburn, co-owner, California Chrome (winner of 2014 Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes), voicing his dismay last year that fresh horses in the Belmont Stakes “upset the apple cart” when owners can “cherry-pick” which race they want their horse to run and that his horse CC, “had a target on his back”. His opinions prompted discussion as to whether the Belmont Stakes needs to change in order to save the Triple Crown. Does it? It has been 36 years since the last Triple Crown winner, and since Affirmed, 13 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. In light of these statistics, would it be better to extend the time span between the races with the hope of eradicating any advantage of better rested horses–i.e. running the Derby the first Saturday in May, the Preakness the first Saturday in June, and the Belmont, the first Saturday in July. Traditionalists maintain, of course, this is how it is done and how it has been done for years. The debate remains ongoing.
For the upcoming Belmont Stakes on June 6, rooting for our next Triple Crown winner.