Belmont-Stakes

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Patch aiming for the Belmont Stakes?

Win or lose in the Kentucky Derby, Patch’s day could still come in the 2017 Triple Crown series. Here trainer Todd Pletcher mentions how his breeding would suit the Belmont Stakes distance even better. Farsighted? Patch is by Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, and his dam’s sire is no less than A.P. Indy himself, a Belmont winner whose progeny also loved the distance. The Derby will be only Patch’s fourth race, but even with a promising effort it could prove the perfect prep for the Test of Champions.

Here are replays of his maiden win and the Louisiana Derby where he finished 2nd, but galloped out ahead of the winner. He was 2nd in his first race.

Maiden win (1 mile) Gulfstream Park, February 18 (#3 blue saddle cloth)

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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.