Here & There – Triple Crown edition

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What a run for our great game of Thoroughbred racing. A thrilling Triple Crown series is always a good thing; the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years something we only dreamed about back in May.

American Pharoah got it done last weekend at Belmont Park in the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes, a masterpiece victory that deserves as much admiration because it was the culmination of a series as it was a powerhouse performance on its own. The accomplishment was good enough to even make the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Our team was on the scene all week, watching and listening, and we’ve got the final installment of Here & There for the spring classics.


Worth Repeating

“This makes it all worth it. This is why we do it.” – Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert

“You can’t be just a little bit better. You have to be way better to get it done.” – Baffert on NBC’s TODAY Show Monday morning

“No place you’d rather be, probably on the whole planet, than right here.” – Old Friends’ Michael Blowen in the paddock about an hour before the Belmont Stakes

“How do I know? I don’t watch the news, I only watch TVG.” – Jockey’s agent Jason Beides when asked which TV personality was reporting from the Belmont clubhouse apron last week

“I just texted my wife. We met two months before the last one.” – Philadelphia Daily News writer Dick Jerardi, on the enormity of the Triple Crown

“If he’d have run last, they’d have shown the replay right away.” – Bloodstock agent Steve Young, on waiting around to watch the replay of Slumber’s win in the Knob Creek Manhattan (a skydiving exhibition caused the delay)

“He needs to be on time. Hey, we’re on time, it’s Longines.” – European journalist and presenter Liz Price, helping representatives of the watchmaker give out gifts in the press box prior to the Belmont Stakes

“How about those gold shoes? Come back tomorrow.” – Heckler to woman walking out of the paddock Belmont Stakes Day

“This is the first time I’ve been here. I went to the grandstand earlier, looked out and thought, ‘this is as big as Paris.’ ” – Bobby Shiflet, owner of Frames on Main Gallery in Paris (Kentucky, not France)

“Two people I really need to thank are Sean and Joe Clancy. They gave me a chance and kept me in racing when I was ready to walk away.” – TIHR’s Tom Law accepting the Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Award Wednesday before the Belmont post-position draw at Rockefeller Center

“Thanks, but I think I was 7, 11 and 12 for the other three.” – NBC’s Donna Brothers after a fan guessed she was young enough to witness her first Triple Crown winner

“Why, what happened?” – Byron Hughes, assistant trainer to Todd Pletcher, joking at the holding barn after he was told post time for the last race Saturday was delayed

“I haven’t seen one of those bags since we started dating.” – Elizabeth Collins after her husband and TIHR’s Tom Law was presented with a signature light blue bag from Tiffany’s after winning the Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Award

“I’m glad it’s them and not me.” – Shug McGaughey watching the skydivers land on the turf course after the Met Mile

“Hey Ben, they’ll let anybody in here huh?” – Jockey Francisco Torres to Churchill Downs’ Ben Huffman after riding Channel Marker to victory in the Jaipur

“I said before the race he’s the only horse that can upset American Pharoah. I just had him in the wrong race.” – A joking (we think) Bill Mott after Japan won the WinStar Easy Goer to open Belmont Day

“The maximum is 30 so I’ll guess we’ll have 30.” – Mark Casse discussing how many horses he’ll have at Saratoga this summer after winning the Just A Game with Tepin

“Just think, you could go the whole rest of your career and not see something like that again.” – Friend to TIHR’s Tom Law

“Amazing.” – Exercise rider Anne Sinchak after Miss Temple City worked on the turf at Fair Hill in her final prep for Royal Ascot


By The Numbers

2: Pats on the forehead of American Pharoah by a Belmont Park assistant starter before loading the future Triple Crown winner in the gate.

90,000: Reported paid attendance for last weekend’s Belmont Stakes.


Tweet of the Week

Larry Collmus (@Larrycollmus): I’ve consumed more honey in the last 24 hours than Winnie The Pooh to get my voice ready for today! @TheNYRA@NBCSN#BelmontStakes


Handicappers report

The Triple Crown season is in the books and with it the unofficial and unsponsored second annual TIHR classics handicapping challenge. The contest called for our three handicappers to pick the Friday-Saturday stakes races for the three classic weekends and it certainly proved to be a challenge.

Sean took home the title this year with a dozen winners. He tabbed three over Belmont weekend – Rock Fall in the Grade 2 True North Friday and Curalina in the Grade 1 Acorn and American Pharoah in the Belmont.

Joe finished second for the season with 11 winners, after tabbing Japan in the WinStar Easy Goer and Tepin in the Grade 1 Just A Game Saturday.

Tom trailed with 10, despite three winners Friday and American Pharoah in the Belmont.