Horse Racing

Change the triple crown? Don’t start that again

I suppose it’s not entirely surprising that the connections of Rich Strike (Keen Ice) announced Thursday that their GI Kentucky Derby winner will not be participating in the GI Preakness S. and will instead point to GI Belmont S., passing up any chances he has. possible to win the Triple Crown. Owners and trainers have become so terrified of the idea of ​​having their horses run again during a two-week rest, that this is inevitable.

So this year’s Preakness, without the 80-1 Derby winner, won’t be as good as it could have been. Does that mean it’s time to change the structure of the Triple Crown and extend the time between the Derby and the Preakness? No.

By all accounts, Rich Strike is in the best shape of his life and came out of the Derby in good shape. But that still wasn’t good enough for owner Rick Dawson and coach Eric Reed.

The last Derby winner to ignore Preakness was in fact last year’s winner Mandaloun (Into Mischief). But he was not declared the winner of the Derby until after the race, when Medina Spirit (Protonico) was officially disqualified. Before that, there was Country house (Look at Lucky), who also won by being eliminated. But he came out of the Derby with a problem and never came back. Before that, Grindstone was born in 1996, he had an injury and had to stop playing after the Derby match. In 1985, Spend a Buck won the Derby and passed on to Preakness to shoot as a replacement with the $2.6 million salary he would have been eligible for if he had won the Jersey Derby.

You have to go all the way back to 1982 and Gato Del Sol when a Derby winner overcame Preakness for no other reason than that the connections didn’t think running back so quickly was a step in the right direction. . Gato Del Sol finished second in Belmont.

I disagree with Dawson and Reed’s decision. There is no reason why a strong, healthy horse should not be able to run again within two weeks. Get that and they have a chance to make history by winning the Triple Crown. It’s not something anyone should throw away. But I understand where they come from. They truly believe they are doing the right thing by the horse and there is never anything wrong with that.

Their horse. Their decision. It happened. Continue.

But some are not willing to do that. Within minutes of Pimlico announcing that Rich Strike wouldn’t work in Preakness, there was a signal predicting and exclaiming that it was time to change the Triple Crown. Maybe four weeks between races. Or maybe more. Some even wanted to change the distance of the races, shortening them and finishing with the Belmont S. A mile and a quarter. Call it Triple Crown Lite.

Coming to the Triple Crown in 2015, calls for a change to the Triple Crown have gone viral as it’s been 37 years since a horse passed all three races and experts say win three I races very difficult five-week period is impossible. Except it’s not. American pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) proved it can be done. Three years later, Evenly (Scat Daddy) did it again. Those are two Triple Crown winners over a 4-year span, and the “let’s change Triple Crown” crowd has gone silent.

The reason why the Triple Crown has never been changed is simple and I think is obvious. One of the reasons it’s so hard to win is because the distance of the races is really a huge challenge. But that’s exactly the way it should be. This is very difficult and that is why it is only done 13 times and every horse that has pulled it is, strictly speaking, considered immortal. Spending more time between races will reduce the achievement and all future Triple Crown winners will deserve an asterisk next to their name. That cannot be.

Yes, Preakness with Rich Strike is a better, more engaging race without him. But this year’s Preakness has a lot to offer. Coach Wayne Lukas, who would rather have his right and left arm amputated than skip the Preakness with the Derby winner, took care of that. The Dirty Vow of Secrets (Arrogate) is a great story and her quest to pull a Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) and beat the boys in Preakness making it an interesting race. Derby Epicenter runner-up (Not this time) will be back for round two and is a very good horse who will be the favorites whether Rich Strike runs or not.

In the afternoon of Preakness, Rich Strike will spend the afternoon resting and relaxing in his booth at trainer Eric Reed’s Mercury Horse Center. Jockey Sonny Leon will ride a few $5,000 claimants at Belterra Park. That’s fine. Triple Crown will be fine.

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