Belmont 2014: Win or Lose, It Was A Good Day

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

June 8th, 2014

by Molly Jo Rosen

Maybe today didn't quite go the way some of us thought it would... we're walking away for the 36th straight year without a Triple Crown winner (despite the installation of a just-in-case "Bat Phone" from the White House to the Belmont winner's circle or the printing of an infield sign with California Chrome's silks that would've sat alongside the likes of Affirmed and Secretariat).

But that doesn't mean today is a total loss. Quite the opposite, actually.
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People often talk about racing like it's an already-dead sport: like whatever Roque was or something called the Horse Long Jump (I'm not making these up: thank Time Magazine).

So you'll pardon my surprise when there's a really loud roar from the crowd that remained through the 13th race (which went off - according to the official charts - 483 minutes after the 1st). Or when there's still a seemingly miles-long line for the Long Island Rail Road at 9 pm. Or when everyone from my mother to high school classmates to non-racing work colleagues are texting me about my feelings on the Belmont result.

Racing may not be the original America's Pastime it was back when the likes of Native Dancer or Damascus or even Easy Goer graced the Belmont winner's circle. But people are paying attention. And that's incredibly exciting.

The Belmont

I owe Tonalist an apology. And probably Commissioner too. I honestly didn't like the Peter Pan and for no real good reason other than my gut ~ which was apparently way off on this one. But that's the beauty of handicapping: some days you're super right, other days you're sooooo not. The trick is to celebrate the wins and let the losses roll off your back.

The best "advice" I have for new players: remember Einstein's definition of insanity... doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That's the very definition of racing: we do that like 8, 9, 10 (or in the case of today 13) times a raceday.

Back to the horses... Tonalist and Commissioner ran the race you need to run in the Belmont. And Medal Count proved my theory going in that he was the pedigree play of the whole field. Then there's 'Chrome.

In terms of the theories for his loss? Nothing was overt: he wasn't stepped on coming out of the gate by a maiden (a la Big Brown), or ridden by every other rider in the field (a la Smarty Jones), or break something (thank God - and - a la Charistmatic), and Victor didn't misjudge the turn (a la Real Quiet).
California Chrome'Chrome did "grab a quarter" in the race, which is a mild injury: either one of his or another horse's shoes cut him and took a chunk of skin with it. This is a common problem in racing and is best summed as: more than a superficial cut, but it's not career/life threatening. Especially for a horse who was going to get 45 days on the farm after the Belmont regardless of result: with proper treatment (basically the horse version of Neosporin and Band-Aids), this will be a blip on a vet record.

My fear all week had been my own He's Gonna Bounce rule: so few horses can remain perfect for an extended period of time. And he was due. He was probably due a few races back, to be honest. But he's exactly the horse I thought he was: a special horse. But special doesn't win races. Talent + skill + luck = the winning formula. And today just wasn't Chrome's day.

Continuing through the field... Wicked Strong proved to be exactly the horse I thought he was going in (being a good work horse only means so much when it doesn't transfer to the afternoons), Samraat is best against state-breds, General a Rod deserves a class drop, Matterhorn ran the best race he could, Commanding Curve was the surprise in bouncing off his big Derby effort, Matuszak didn't belong in the field anyway, and Ride On Curlin was eased after having some minor medical issues of his own (apparently he bled and his airway displaced).

I don't know if this is the greatest Belmont Stakes race ever run, but it was a really good race and that's what truly matters. NYRA needs to be applauded for creating a phenomenal day of racing that broke handle records and drew a fantastic crowd of 102,199. And we at #TeamBetAmerica were thrilled to be able to welcome wagering on Belmont/Saratoga/Aqueduct on such an incredible day.

On a personal note...

This trip for me was 56 hours and easily 50 of that was spent on the ground at Belmont. There are two chunks of time totaling just 7.5 minutes that will live with me forever:
  • Belmont Day at 5:30 am when WAVE3's John Boel and I did an interview walking alongside California Chrome as he went to the track for his final jog (click here for the video)
  • Belmont Day at 6:54 pm when I got to watch what was an historic race (win or lose) with the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) team of Mike Penna, Jude Feld, Kurt Becker, and producer Sean Seay. They had to keep silent due to live microphones - which meant I did too - and to feel the energy of people so deeply involved in the game (each of us in our own ways) as the horses made their way around the 1-1/2 miles oval... that was special.
To bookend the day - whether we got to celebrate a Triple Crown or not - with good people who love the racing industry on a day when the best of the best horses are strutting their stuff? This was a good day!

Tell us what kind of day you had with Belmont 2014!
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