The possibility of a Triple Crown-winning horse has been dashed ahead of the 2013 Belmont Stakes. However, it looks as though a strong field will occupy the track in Elmont, New York on June 8, which should create plenty of excitement even without horse racing's ultimate prize on the line.
With Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard this past Saturday, Oxbow rode to victory in the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes, while Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished fourth.
Traffic problems plagued Orb, who started from the No. 1 post position, and jockey Joel Rosario could not make a move to the outside quickly enough in the beginning to legitimately challenge down the stretch.
Alas, the longstanding gap between Affirmed's Triple Crown triumph in 1978 extends for another year, which according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, hurts the business of the Belmont Stakes significantly:
Winning a Triple Crown race doesn't hold any less prestige for those who will be competing in the Run for the Carnations in a few weeks. Orb's letdown at the Preakness actually lends itself to a broader diversity of intriguing storylines.
According to Horse Racing Nation, there are a plethora of top-notch thoroughbreds that are possible entries at Belmont Park—many of whom thrived in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
The prospective battle between Oxbow and Orb will be among the captivating developments to watch, but that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Perhaps most notable will be Mylute, who is mounted by female jockey Rosie Napravnik. After coming in fifth and third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness respectively, the 25-year-old has already notched landmark achievements, as Darryl Slater of The Post and Courier references:
Napravnik is serving as a pioneer for women in the horse racing industry, and placed fifth in the Belmont Stakes last year aboard Five Sixteen.
A slight improvement on her 2013 efforts in the sport's marquee showcases could result in the second triumph by a woman in a Triple Crown event, joining Julie Krone's 1993 Belmont victory mounting Colonial Affair.
Mylute is a consistently improving horse, and a trip to the winners circle would be a fitting end to Mylute's three-year-old campaign.
Normandy Invasion is a speedy colt who was out in front entering the final stretch at Churchill Downs before Orb's surge and the sloppy track took their toll, and he finished in fourth.
By resting up ahead of the Belmont, as long as the weather isn't a significant factor, Normandy Invasion should be among the top contenders despite the longer, 1.5-mile track.
Golden Soul and Revolutionary finished second and third at the Kentucky Derby. Similar to Normandy Invasion, they will also be fresh after forgoing the opportunity to run for the Middle Jewel on Saturday, and should register solid finishes once again.
While horse racing enthusiasts are in for an exhilarating conclusion to the Triple Crown season, even casual fans should be able to appreciate what will transpire in The Test of Champions at Belmont Park.