Palace Malice won the 145th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, yay. There is a hint of sarcasm in the final word of the last sentence because this Triple Crown season lacked memorable moments.
This isn't meant to take something away from jockey Mike Smith, the horse or trainer Todd Pletcher. Smith is a Hall of Famer, Palace Malice ran a strong race on one of the sport's most grueling tracks, and Pletcher was bound to cash in with five horses in the running.
However, when three different horses win the three different races in the Triple Crown, the races themselves need to be spectacular. All three were good—at best.
Almost everyone that loves the sport of horse racing is captivated by the prospects of a horse winning the Triple Crown.
Orb got our hopes up after a solid and winning performance at the Kentucky Derby. The Triple Crown hopes were done when Gary Stevens guided Oxbow to a convincing win at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes.
The moment Oxbow crossed the finish line, the appeal of the Belmont Stakes dipped a bit. Hardcore fans and those obligated to watch were still plugged into the final leg of the Triple Crown, but the interest was nothing compared to what it would have been if Orb had won the Preakness.
Of all three races, the Belmont had the most exciting finish, but even Saturday's race didn't end as thrillingly as it could have. It appeared as though Palace Malice and Oxbow's duel down the stretch would come down to the wire.
Just as I sat up in my seat, Oxbow gave way to Palace Malice to remove any doubt about the winner.
There are some moderately interesting storylines in this Triple Crown season. The older jockeys have really fared well as we've seen Smith (47 years old) and Stevens (50 years old) shine. We've also seen two future Hall of Fame trainers come away with victories in Shug McGaughey (Orb) and D.Wayne Lukas (Oxbow).
Nevertheless, neither of those angles will be remembered for more than a month or so. For the most part, this year was barely a tease of something special in the sport.
Perhaps we'll have better luck next year.
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