Belmont Stakes Day. A bucket sits in the hallway, still catching part of yesterday’s deluge, Styrofoam coffee cups and Friday’s programs suspended in the detritus. The track dries, tractors scraping and squeezing, surfaces director Glen Kozak hoping/expecting a fast track by evening. No doubt, this year’s Triple Crown will be played on three completely different surfaces. Think the beach and the difference between first step off the boardwalk and last step before the waves. The Derby, closer to the ocean. The Preakness, closer to the boardwalk. Today, there are hours still to go.
With or without the rain (and the bucket), it’s still better than last year when I’ll Have Another dropped the bomb, keeping fans at home and keeping the detractors bullets flying. Funny game, indeed. This year, Shug McGaughey kept the lights on, bringing Derby winner Orb back for the grudge match with Oxbow.
Yes, times have changed and the sport’s different today than it was in Seabiscuit’s day, but I can’t help but think of some of the things I’ve seen in my day. I’ve seen Cigar win 16 in a row. I’ve seen Fourstardave win a race at Saratoga for eight straight years. I’ve seen McDynamo win the Grand National five years in a row. I’ve seen Goldikova win three consecutive Breeders’ Cup Miles and try for a fourth. I’ve seen John Shirreffs and connections bring Zenyatta back at 6 and nearly run the table. I’ve seen Rachel Alexandra take on the boys and beat the boys in the Woodward. I’ve seen the filly, Rags To Riches, win the Belmont Stakes. I’ve seen Frankel. I’ve seen Frankel, the horse. I’ve seen Gary Stevens return to riding after seven years, and win a Preakness. I’ve seen Shug McGaughey win five in a row with a horse named Orb, get hammered in the Preakness and run back in the Belmont for sport.
Strong field. Cool race. Big day.
And, this just in, Miles won the Lead Line at the Upperville Horse Show.
“Dad, I got a blue ribbon and an orange lollipop.” Now, I’ve seen it all. Well, a photo will do for now.