Now that Belmont 148 is in the books there’s just a few post race points to cover.
First, it really did turn out to be an exciting race with Creator launching from near last to catch Destin at the wire to finish first. Perhaps his rotten Derby trip really did compromise his performance and finish; we’ll never know. And so much for the position that the Belmont Stakes isn’t won by deep closers.
This was the first time I can recall having three grey colts finish one-two-three in such a major stakes race. And of course two of them–Creator and Lani are sons of super stallion Tapit; Destin is by Giant’s Causeway. Tapit now has two of the last three Belmont Stakes winners, being the sire of 2014’s winner–Tonalist.
While I was very disappointed in Exaggerator’s 11th place finish (his worst race finish ever) I am relieved he came out of the race sound and healthy and it’s clear in watching replays that jockey Kent Desormeaux wrapped up on him when he felt they were not going to contend. Exaggerator will remain in New York, at Belmont for the immediate future, and then ship upstate for some of the summer stakes (the Jim Dandy and/or Travers Stakes being the most likely targets) at Saratoga.
The second biggest disappointment for me was Suddenbreakingnews. In my opinion the race was tailor made for him and I had high hopes that with Mike Smith riding he’d breakthrough; no such luck, he didn’t run a step. I have no explanation and have heard nothing about the performance (or lack of same) from his camp.
Besides the close finish, the highlight of this race for me was: LANI!!! Yes, my boy, the grey wonder horse (in more ways than one) yet again took another significant step forward in his third place finish. Ninth in the Derby, fifth in the Preakness, Lani just kept at the task and kept coming. He and his handlers were viewed with a lot of skepticism and in some instances mockery because of his behavior and the way he trained–usually long and slow. They underrated this horse. This spring, dating back to March, he has travelled from Japan to Dubai to Chicago, Louisville, Baltimore, and Elmont, New York. Although his training might have appeared out of the norm, there was never any doubt in my mind that he was the fittest horse in this bunch of three-year-old colts. That, combined with his Tapit/Sunday Silence pedigree, kept him in contention throughout this series. As for his behavior, I attribute that to being quite the ALPHA colt. But he learned and improved throughout and I think, provided he stays sound, once he returns to Japan he’ll be quite successful. I would love to see him return this fall to contest the Breeders’ Cup Classic. GO Lani!
Creator will ship to his eventual stallion home, WinStar Farm, for a few weeks of rest and recovery. Barring the unforeseen, he should also return to training for the Saratoga meet.
Nyquist is back in California and resumed light training late last week. His future races have not been announced, but if all goes well, I’m sure he’ll be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as this year it’ll be run at his home track at Santa Anita Park.
It was an interesting series of Triple Crown races. The three-way split of the races further emphasizes the difficulty of winning one, let alone all three, and shows how amazing and rare American Pharoah’s sweep last year was through the 19-horse Derby field, monsoon conditions of the Preakness, and the mile and a half “Test of the Champion.”
American Pharoah’s feat was further flattered in the Belmont undercard. Last year’s second-place finisher in the Belmont, Frosted (also a son of Tapit!) blistered a talented field in the Metropolitan Mile. Not only did he set a record time for the stakes, he won by 14 1/4 lengths. It was an absolutely stunning performance and honestly the best race of the day. With Frosted’s performance, you have to wonder what American Pharaoh might have been capable of as a four-year-old.