The Belmont Stakes : Ranting, Raving and Carrying On
A brief glance at the results of past Belmont Stakes reveals a telling secret.
For at least the past twenty years the Belmont (the final jewel of the North American horses racing triple-crown) has been captured by a who's who of the thoroughbred horse racing industry. The 1994, 95, 96 and 2000 editions of the Belmont Stakes were captured by international racing spokesman D. Wayne Lukas, who enters the pair of Luv Gov and Flying Private in this years running of the mile and a half Belmont classic.
A mile and a half is, in North American racing terms a gruelling test of stamina. No horse entered in Sunday's race has ever or will ever be asked to tackle such a far flung distance.
Since 1989 every winner of the Belmont has come from a major racing operation. Not one horse has captured the third leg of the triple crown in the last two decades without the help of a major training outfit.
Sorry Chip (virtually unknown trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird; Chip Woolley) but looks like your luck has run out.
The only name to appear on the Belmont Stakes winners list over the past twenty years that does not seem to belong is Dermot K. Weld who captured the 1990 Belmont Stakes with foreign import Go And Go. However Mr. Weld was in fact one of if not the premier trainers in all of Ireland. It has even been suggested that Ireland's Galway Race-Way be re-named the Dermot Weld Retirement Fund Race-Way.
So who are the small out-fits that we can count out on Stakes Day?
Of the ten horses entered in this years Belmont Stake only two come from barns that would be considered minor in comparison to the races most recent winners.
#4 Summer Bird is trained by Tim Ice an accomplished horseman who just recently made the transition from trainers assistant to head trainer and now has a stable of his own at Oaklawn Park.
#7 Mine That Bird is trained by the now internationally known Chip Woolley. Despite his most recent success and a current bout of international notoriety Chip Woolley is still just a cowboy. And although his Kentucky Derby win may have been fitting, given that races long history coupled with it's most recent results a win at Elmont, New York in June is simply out of the question.
There is a divided amongst North-American Horse-Racing enthusiasts when it comes to the validity of the Belmont Stakes.
Some believe that the race is simply to far for North America breed horses to run and that the Belmont is nothing more then a flaming hoop designed to dash the hopes of a legitimate triple-crown contender.
Others like myself will tell you that despite a weakening blood stock amongst North-American Thoroughbreds that the Belmont is indeed the truest test of class.
Just take a look a the success of Belmont winners in the breeding shed as compared to Derby winners and it all becomes fairly obvious http://www.drf.com/newsletter/06cri.html .
It is clear that the Belmont is a test of class, stamina and gumption for athletes of both the equine and human persuasion but a look at the races recent history suggests that the Belmont is reserved not as a flaming hoop to deter Triple Crown hopefuls but as a signature event obligated to keep us in touch with our past.
Over the past twenty years the number of horses able to complete the Belmont's gruelling mile and a half distance has plunged bellow acceptability. Irate horsemen across the continent have screamed for a reduction in the races distance but rather then rewarding the irresponsible breeders who have reduced the quality of North-American blood-stock to an all time low, lets make the Belmont the years marquee event. Raise the purse money, profile and public awareness and hopefully the new "jewel" of North-American Horse Racing will encourage a new generation of breeders to be a little more responsible with there stock.
Unfortunately I will be in the office this evening until some un-godly hours of the early morning and I may not be able to produce the Belmont Stakes preview I had intended. So here is a little friendly advice in case I don't make my next posting.
Belmont Stakes Wagering Tips
#1 -- The first four position in the Belmont starting gate are not the place to be and have not produced a winner in at least twenty years.
#2 -- Horses who did not race in the Preakness and have had five weeks off since there last performance have dominated the Belmont in recent years.
#3 -- Often times the Belmont winner is a distance specialist that has experienced little success running at shorter distances. Last years Belmont winner D' Tara has since gone 0-6 since capping Big Brown's run for the triple crown in last years Belmont.