2006 bay colt by Horse Of The Year Holy Bull out of Multiple Stakes Winner Perfect Moment

Run with The Bull

Ride along as we journey towards that perfect moment
when victory is caught in the final stride at the wire.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Time will tell.

Since Affirmed accomplished the Triple Crown in 1978, ten runners have entered the Belmont Stakes wearing the first two jewels and carrying dreams for the third. Spectacular Bid, dubbed ‘the greatest horse to look through a bridle’ by his confident yet albeit biased trainer, kicked off the recent spate in the 1979 Belmont with his seemingly inexplicable third place effort. After the contest Bud Delp, the colt's trainer, insisted that his charge had stepped on a safety pin that morning which pierced the frog of the left front foot, causing pain during the running. Pleasant Colony could fare no better in the 1981 renewal. Alysheba, sired by Alydar, the runner-up in each leg of Affirmed’s Triple Crown triumph, valiantly recovered from a stumble to win the 1987 Derby, prevailed in the Preakness, yet was only able to manage a fourth place effort in the Belmont. 1989 brought us another great rivalry with Sunday Silence besting Easy Goer, another son of Alydar, in the first two legs only to conceded to that rival in the Belmont. The jocular trainer Bob Baffert brought Silver Charm (1997) and Real Quiet (1998) into their respective editions of the Belmont only to see them finish second in the final strides. D. Wayne Lukas counts four Derby, five Preakness, and four Belmont wins on his trainer's resume. Yet it is the 1999 Belmont in which former claimer Charismatic finished third after vanquishing both the Derby and Preakness that stands out the most. Bob Baffert returned in 2002 with the front running War Emblem only to lose virtually any chance after a stumble out of the gate, finishing a lackluster eighth. The popular gelding Funny Cide finished third in 2003 while the following year the Nick Zito trained Birdstone ran down fan favorite Smarty Jones on a stormy New York evening to end the latest chance at sportings greatest achievement.

In the history of 12 furlong (1 ½ miles) dirt races, the second fastest time, anywhere at any age, is 2:25 seconds. The second fastest time in the Belmont Stakes at the 12 furlong distance (it had been contested at various distances early in its inauguration) is 2:26 seconds. Secretariat completed the Belmont Stakes in 2:24 seconds. Applying the old adage that 1/5 of a second equals one length, ‘Big Red’ finished a commanding five lengths in front of any other horse the world has known and an overwhelming ten lengths in front of any other Belmont Stakes victor. Secretariat's official margin of victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes was 31 lenghts. That’s his jockey, Ron Turcotte, letting curiosity gets the best of him with a glance over his shoulder in the above picture.

On Saturday, Big Brown will face eight rivals and history in the quest to be considered one of the all time greats. Time will tell.