That’s a wrap for the 2019 Triple Crown series.
At least it wasn’t boring.
From the nearly 22-minute delay at the Derby to the jockey-less joy ride by Bodexpress at the Preakness to an upset in the Belmont, this year’s series had folks talking about racing for more than three days.
People were watching, too, especially in Buffalo.
— Gene Kershner (@EquiSpace) June 9, 2019
After a No. 6 showing in the Derby with a 17.6 television rating and 32 share, Buffalo improved to No. 4 (8.4, 19) in the Preakness and topped out at third (7.0, 17) for the Belmont per the NBC Sports PR Twitter account. Our market loves horse racing and it shows in the national ratings.
The News was one of six daily newspaper outlets that covered all three Triple Crown races live on site, excluding the trades (DRF, Bloodhorse, TDN, Paulick, NTRA, etc.). The five others dailies were The New York Times, the LA Times, Newsday, Albany Times-Union and the Newark Star Ledger (NJ.com).
Speaking of ratings, Maximum Security (24 first place votes, 425 points) was tabbed the No. 1 horse in the 3-year-old division in the final poll before heading into summer racing.
Maximum Security Leads Final NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll of 2019 https://t.co/NSnXQv7WDy
— NTRA (@NTRA) June 10, 2019
He regained the top spot, relinquished over the past two weeks to Preakness winner War of Will (8 firsts, 347 pts) and Tacitus (8 firsts, 342 pts). As a weekly voter, I tabbed him for the top spot because I felt that his Derby effort was the most impressive of the three races. He will return to the races on Sunday afternoon at Monmouth for the Pegasus S., the local prep for next month’s Haskell Invitational.
Trainer Bill Mott told The News last weekend at Belmont Park, that Country House (ranked 6th) will return to the races at Saratoga in either the Jim Dandy or Travers.
Omaha Beach is back from the farm and in trainer Richard Mandella’s barn at Santa Anita and will start working toward a return to the racetrack over the next few weeks. Mandella told XBTV that he’s lost some of his muscle tone and that he’ll start galloping him before officially working him in the morning.
A horse we haven’t heard the last of is last year’s Juvenile champ Game Winner, who is also targeting the Travers. Roadster, another Baffert colt, also returns on Sunday at Santa Anita in the $100K Affirmed S.
Add some horses that had solid showings in the Triple Crowns races such as Tacitus (Derby, Belmont), Owendale (Preakness) and Sir Winston (Belmont), this 3-year-old division is there for the taking. Trainer Dale Romans also thinks second-place Preakness runner Everfast should improve through the summer months.
Should Maximum Security breeze through his next two races at Monmouth and with the Haskell a week earlier this year, the Travers could be setting up to be the race that decides the division.
Turning our attention north, the Canadian Triple Crown preps concluded last Saturday with Pay for Peace upsetting Federal Law in the Plate Trial and Desert Ride winning the Oaks. Those three, in addition to Avie’s Flatter (Josie Carroll) and Skywire (Mark Casse), will make up the guts of the 160th Plate on June 29 at Woodbine.
Another amazing statistic coming out of the Triple Crown series, of the last six North American classics, Mark Casse has won five of them. He swept last year’s Canadian series and won the Preakness and Belmont with different horses. He only missed the Kentucky Derby to complete an unprecedented sweep. Just think if War of Will wasn’t impeded in Louisville, what might have been.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.