Belmont Stakes: Triple Crown Winner or Flop, It Will Make a Dozen

I'll Have Another winning the Kentucky Derby The horse racing industry is made up of a dysfunctional group, unable to do the simplest things like stagger post times at major tracks or pilfering $8 million from horseplayer’s pockets by forgetting to rescind the takeout rate, but for the next 24 hours let’s bask in the glow of another attempt to win the Triple Crown.

I’ll Have Another is sitting on the cusp of history, about to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, or about to become the 12th horse since our last Triple Crown in 1978 to come up short at Belmont Park.

Ah, I can remember where I was for each of those previous eleven near misses.

I was in the grandstand at Belmont Park as Sunday Silence and Easy Goer turned for home in the 1989 Belmont Stakes.

The roar of the crowd literally lifted me off my feet, but it was not to be as Easy Goer drew away from Sunday Silence in the stretch.

It was quite a rivalry, and I remember it particularly well because I picked the wrong horse in each jewel of the Triple Crown that year.

I remember standing in the clubhouse at Pimlico staring at a television monitor as Real Quiet headed for home with a clear lead, only to be left in stunned silence as Victory Gallop took the Triple Crown away in the last jump.

It did not end well for Charismatic or Big Brown, and in 2004 I remember my Smarty Party ending rather abruptly.

There was a safety pin and jockey issue with Spectacular Bid, and of course Pleasant Colony, Alysheba, and Silver Charm all left us with that empty feeling.

I felt like taking the short bus home from the track after Funny Cide disappointed us dearly in 2003.

Wait I think I am missing one.

Oh yeah, I have no idea where I was in 2002. Did War Emblem really win the Derby and Preakness that year?

I penned a column shortly after the Kentucky Derby that said the Racing Gods would not allow Doug O’Neill to win the Triple Crown.

O’Neil is  getting ready to serve a 45 day suspension for a horse testing for an elevated level of total carbon dioxide back in 2010.

We saw what the Racing Gods had in mind for Rick Dutrow, a trainer with an even more checkered past than O’Neill. Big Brown was eased in the Belmont Stakes in his Triple Crown bid at odds of 3-10.

However, I am growing to like O’Neill a lot more than I did a couple of months ago, and the trainer has handled the media very well, especially the uninformed media that do not cover horse racing 49 weeks out of the year.

A perfect example of the way the media is handling O’Neill is a recent column by Rick Snider in the Washington Examiner.

Snider wrote on June 6, “Now it’s Doug O’Neill’s turn for judgment. I’ll Have Another’s trainer was suspended 45 days and fined $15,000 on May 25 after one of his horses tested positive for “milkshaking” last year. Essentially, that’s an old-school method of producing a sugar rush to give the horse extra energy.”

While the horse in question did test for elevated level of total carbon dioxide, the hearing officer determined there was no evidence the horse was “milkshaked” and there were no suspicious betting patterns in the race. He further determined there was no evidence of any intentional acts by O’Neill in the matter.

Is O’Neill using something illegal?

It’s tough to tell, but if he is, he certainly is not the only one. Just about every major trainer has had some type of drug infraction, often a legal therapeutic drug that is allowed in training but not on race day.

The only trainers that come to mind that have completely clean records are Christophe Clement and 2011 Kentucky Derby winning trainer Graham Motion.

If you have seen the recent interviews by O’Neill or his brother Dennis, it is hard not to like these guys.

It is even harder not to like jockey Mario Gutierrez, who has risen from a top jockey at the minor league Hastings Park in Canada to the full blown spotlight of the Triple Crown.

The 25 year old jockey from Mexico is as cool as it comes, whether riding in his first Kentucky Derby to making an appearance Thursday night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

The jockey is unflappable, and if the Racing Gods deny another Triple Crown bid, it will not because of the ride.

While the betting odds on I’ll Have Another will have me looking for another to wager on, I’ll be rooting for “another” Triple Crown winner.

Michael Dempsey’s Belmont Stakes Day Report

Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Belmont Stakes Day card.

The third jewel of the Triple Crown features an outstanding day of horse betting. The supporting stakes include the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (G1), $500,000 Just  A Game (G1), $400,000 True North Handicap (G2), and the $400,000 Woody Stephens (G2).

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