Belmont-Stakes

7

It’s Belmont Day!  Jewel three of the Triple Crown!  There’s no Triple Crown on the line this year, but that doesn’t mean the race will be any less exciting:  With the weather up in the air (will there be a flash thunderstorm?) and a field full of closers (but none of whom have raced the distance before!), this year’s Belmont promises to be one exciting race to watch!

We are, of course, continuing to root for quirky, expert-tantrum-throwing Lani.  Just look at that gorgeous face!

Here is a letter from Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, Tonalist:

Hello horse fans,

Boy, this is awkward. I realize most of you probably hate my guts—I get that—but I figured that with few days to cool off, maybe you hate me just a little bit less? Hey, I get up everyday, have my shoes put on and go to work just like everyone else. I’m just a colt who likes to eat, sleep, run and poop like any other hot-blooded American.

So everyone wants to know if I feel bad about spoiling California Chrome's Triple Crown, and if it’s fair that I even had a chance to be in the race since I did not run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, and if it’s true that I am a Communist. To which I say, which one was California Chrome again? I’m terrible with names and don't get to watch TV, so please forgive me if I come off as dense, but I honestly didn’t have time for introductions that day.I’m sure he’s a good dude, and if it makes you feel better then yes, SORRY FOR WINNING.

As for fairness, well, you’re asking the wrong critter. I just show up, go a little crazy and wait for that gate to open so I can run, run, run. I try to stay out of the politics, but when I had to run in the Peter Pan Stakes last month, did I complain because I was the only horse in the race coming back from a three month layoff while battling a lung infection? Did I complain when it rained and made the track all muddy and unfamiliar? You best yourhorse’s ass I did, butwhatareyagonnado?

You know what’s really unfair? The fact I had to miss the Derby and the Preakness, that’s what. Ever since I was a yearling all I’ve wanted to do was win the Kentucky Derby. I hear you get carrots delivered to you anytime you want for the rest of your life…is that true? Can someone please confirm this for me?

Look, whomever this Chrome fellow is—wait, was he the big baywith the white shadow roll and horrendous gas? No?—I’m sure he’s over it and munching on his unlimited, hand delievered carrots that he will enjoy for the rest of his life. So no, I do not feel bad, and neither should you.

If all goes well then I’m sure we will meet on the track again soon and you people will be all like, “Yeahhh go California Chrome you rock” and “Boooo Tonalist I hate you and your fresh legs and that stupid star on your face that looks like South America” and whatever will be will be.

Maybe we’ll race each other in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this Fall and if he beats me I can say, “but poor me I had to twavel awl the way fwom the East Coast and he just had to dwive down the stweet…it’s not fair!” WOULD THAT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER? WOULD YOU THEN BE ENTERTAINED? Forgive me, I’m just a little tired of answering the same question. Us Tapits can be a touch temperamental at times.

Anyway, it’s 4:00 and I don’t see anyone preparing my bucket so I’m going to sign off and work up a tantrum—FOOD FOR THE BELMONT CHAMP, MAYBE?! ANYONE?!—so thank you for letting me get this off my chest and clear the air. Sorry again if I ruined your Triple Crown party. Time heals.

Warm regards and fresh legs,

Tonalist

Photo credit to Jay Moran.

American Pharoah

In 2002, I watched the Kentucky Derby for the first time and fell in love with a lean, mean, jet-black horse. Trained by Bob Baffert and with Victor Espinoza on his back, War Emblem swept the first two jewels of the Triple Crown like his feet were on fire. I was so invested in him that it hurt. After he lost the Belmont, my dad found me curled up under a blanket, sobbing that I would “never see a Triple Crown winner.”

Thirteen years and countless heartbreaks later, a strong, kind, transcendent animal, raw bay but for a kiss of white on his forehead, labored to win the Derby despite a long layoff and two preps. Trained by Bob Baffert and with Victor Espinoza on his back, this horse ran through the Triple Crown like he couldn’t believe it was his job, littering track after track with a circuit of perfect hoof prints. His first head-to-head challenge and a torrential downpour couldn’t stop him. And today, with ears forward and in some the fastest final fractions in Belmont history, he devoured the race that claimed thirteen challengers before him.

The 12th Triple Crown winner is named American Pharoah, and he is beautiful. He is perfect.

I am happy. I am happy for the horse, I am happy for me, I am happy for the fans, I am happy for the connections. I am happy for my sport, a sport that does not often truly get to be happy. Today is our day. Yes, yes, yes.