Last year at this time American Pharoah had won the Triple Crown and wrapped up the Eclipse Award for top three-year-old and Horse of the Year, but the victory by Creator in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday assures this year’s honors won’t be decided until at least November.
The three-year-old division is still led by Kentucky Derby winner (G1) Nyquist, but now with Exaggerator winning the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Creator getting his nostril in front at the wire in the Belmont, there is quite a logjam in the division.
With the Grade 1 Haskell, Travers and the Breeders’ Cup Classic still to be contested, there is still time for another horse to jump to the front, perhaps Destin, Mohayman, Gun Runner or even Stradivari.
While it looks as if Exaggerator needs some time on the sidelines after competing in all three of the Triple Crown races, both Creator and Destin bounced out of the Belmont in good fashion according to their connections and we should see them compete this summer.
The date to circle on the calendar is Saturday, Aug. 27 for the $1.25 million Travers (G1). Last year Keen Ice upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, with Frosted running third.
Pletcher and I Nosed Out Again
One of my toughest beats in recent years was the 2014 Belmont, where I picked Commissioner on top. The colt led every step of the way except for the last one, coming up a head short at 28-1, run down by Tonalist.
This year I made Stradivari my top pick and Destin my second choice, both trained by Pletcher. Heading down the backstretch the duo were tracking the pacesetter Gettysburg, and things were looking pretty good for us.
Destin took over the lead and Exaggerator looked to be done, with Creator coming on. The Destin-Creator exacta was paying $221 and I started counting my money. But just like in 2014, an excruciating photo did not go our way.
Well, unless you boxed my top four picks, which my brother was smart enough to do, returning a hefty $269. I was not that smart.
2016 Belmont Stakes Replay
Ratings, Handle Decline
With no Triple Crown hanging in the balance, it is no surprise both handle and television ratings were down this year.
The overnight television rating this year was 4.3 with a share of 10. Last year’s rating was a 12.3 with a 27 share.
The New York Racing Association reported all-sources pari-mutuel handle for the Belmont Stakes card totaled $99,419,023, compared with $135,790,321 last year. The on-track crowd of 60,114 at Belmont Park wagered $11,694,847 compared with $16,950,758 in on-track betting in 2015.