2013 Preakness: Orb's Failure Crushes Interest Level Heading into Belmont Stakes

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMay 19, 2013

May 18, 2013; Baltimore, MA, USA; Joel Rosario aboard Orb (1) trails behind down the final stretch during the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico race course. Orb finished 4th.  Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Belmont Stakes is set for June 8 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, but once Orb faded from contention at the Preakness, the interest level for the final leg of the Triple Crown dipped considerably.

With all due respect to Oxbow, D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens, the Belmont Stakes would have been a lot more interesting had Orb won at Pimlico. 

Seeing the 77-year-old Lukas become the oldest trainer to win the Preakness Stakes was great. Stevens culminating his return to the sport with his third Preakness win and ninth Triple Crown victory was just as special.

As amazing as it is to see a 15-to-1 underdog (per Bovada) win a Triple Crown race, it is nothing compared to watching a horse chase immortality.

Once we have soaked all of the feel-good angles from Saturday's race, there is an emptiness. In the big picture, horse racing stands to gain enormous popularity from a Triple Crown winner.

We haven't seen one in 35 years. The hype that was created in 2012 during I'll Have Another’s run generated great buzz.

His spectacular closing ability was his niche. It became the quality we briefly looked forward to him displaying in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

When he couldn't run in the Belmont Stakes, it robbed the sport of momentum. This year, things didn't even get quite that far.

A rail post position and an inspired performance fro Lukas’ colt doomed Orb’s chances. 

Finding compelling storylines for the Belmont will be very difficult. The current circumstances somewhat limit the appeal to hardcore fans only. Were Orb's Triple Crown hopes still alive, the Belmont Stakes would pique the interest of the masses.

At this point, we’re not even sure if Oxbow will run in New York.

Purists may be able to keep a sport alive, but a new generation of fans would allow the sport to grow.

New fans simply aren’t interested enough in what this year’s Belmont Stakes will offer.


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