The second jewel is in the books and the 14th attempt at a Triple Crown since 1979 is looming to anoint the 13th member of the elusive club.
The Crown has been won multiple times in certain decades and the 2010’s could claim its second entrant joining multiple-decade winners of the 1930’s (three) 1940’s (four) and 1970’s (three).
It will be the litmus test of whether Joe Casual Fan remains interested in Justify’s effort, just three short years separated from American Pharoah’s romp at Big Sandy in 2015.
Before we look ahead to the Belmont Stakes, let’s recap a few notes from last weekend in waterlogged Baltimore….
Leaky Pimlico made it through another second jewel, but the Stronach Group appears ready to pull the plug on Old Hilltop sooner rather than later. If the city of Baltimore (unlikely) or State of Maryland doesn’t step up with big money, we could be at Laurel Park down the road halfway to Washington, D.C. before you know it.
Investment somewhere in the $300-$500 million was tossed around by Stronach COO Tim Ritvo, who is tackling his own issues at Santa Anita these days.
While the Preakness at Pimlico has been a visit I’ve looked forward to over the past nine years, it looks like its days could be numbered.
The horse that impressed the most in the race, other than the winner, had to be Tenfold. His gallop out and late close was the real deal. It looks like Steve Asmussen has a racehorse on his hands. The son of Curlin, who finished a nose out of a Belmont win in 2007, could be dangerous in New York.
You have to give it to Good Magic, he tried his heart out and gave the winner all he had, and even made a late burst before they hit the wire. Justify put away a quality horse for the second time in a row.
Yes, Justify probably would have lost the race if it was another 1/16th of a mile longer, but I’m firmly in the camp that he put away Good Magic after going head-to-head with him most of the race and didn’t sense the closers coming. Mike Smith was likely trying to save something for New York, and the wire came at the right time.
So Long Island beckons and here are a few things I’m looking forward to….
The Gronk circus is coming to town. I’m having a hard time seeing Chad Brown smile about this whole situation. He doesn’t seem like the Gronk fun-loving type.
Pletcher loves the Belmont. His biggest weapon will likely be muzzled until summer, but watch out for Vino Rosso. He had a horrid trip in the Derby from post No. 18 and didn’t like the wet surface one bit. The Toddster usually has them ready on the second Saturday in June.
Hofburg is already your steam horse, and rightly so. He was running late in Louisville after early traffic trouble for Bill Mott, who won the Belmont in 2010 with Drosselmeyer, with Mike Smith aboard.
This will be my 13th straight Belmont Stakes, my favorite other than Pharoah’s big day was the 2007 Rags to Riches duel with Curlin, where a filly won the race for the first time since 1905. Now that’s some history for you.
I was a guest on the ML Sports Platter on Thursday, a podcast based out of Syracuse, give it a listen if you have a chance.
Next week check out this space to explore potential Triple Crown killers in the field attempting to derail Justify in New York.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.