Belmont Stakes News

Here’s a nice article from the connections of Rich Strike.

It’s nice to see that some big time jockeys are helping the “rookie” (whose first grade 1 win was in the Kentucky Derby) with their advice.


It would be good if Leon could get a few rides at Belmont. The fact that the track is a mile and one-half around and the homestretch is so long–jockeys need to get used to that, professionals though they are. I think I remember reading that some jockeys have moved too soon, run out of horse. Can’t remember who though.


Stewart Elliott on Smarty Jones was one.

Who was it who rode Real Quiet? I didn’t think he gave him a great ride in the Belmont, hit the front too soon. And then when he did get competition, he bumped him. If Real Quiet had won that photo, he might well have been disqualified. I really liked Real Quiet, but I did not like how he was ridden that race.

Ron Franklin on Spectacular Bid. I think Bid would have won even with the bandage pin injury if he hadn’t made his move way too early.


Kent Desormeaux. Good example. Then there was his bizzaro finish with Big Brown. I don’t think you can blame the guy for being cautious and pulling up, I just don’t remember it looking like that’s what was going on in the moment.

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Franklin’s career tanked after that Belmont. He lost the ride on Spectacular Bid and had drug problems on and off. He died just a few years ago, at 58, from lung cancer.

@Texarkana - I never thought Desormeaux did anything wrong pulling Big Brown up. IIRC, I think it was determined BB had a loose shoe?

I don’t think they ever found anything wrong with Big Brown.

It’s not wrong to pull up. I just remember KD looking more like he was having sour grapes than actual concern in the moment. There was a lot of speculation about that at the time. But if I also trust if something felt off to him, then he absolutely needed to do what he did.

Desormeaux has never been one to own his mistakes. I remember he had the mount on Kotashaan in the 1993 Japan Cup and misjudged the finish line, costing them the win. That was youth (people still called him “The Kid”) and an unfamiliar track, but he was pretty defiant in the face of criticism.

Lawd knows KD makes plenty of mistakes to practice the skill… both professionally and personally. May he get his demons in check one day.


In my opinion (not that that counts for much), Bid was the best horse not to win the Triple Crown who won two out of three while racing in all three races. Have to throw in that qualification, because I have no doubt Man o’ War would have been a TC winner if given the chance. Spectacular Bid was truly great, and his 4-year-old season was even better than his three-year-old season. 1:57 4/5 for 1 1/4 miles still stands.


Yes. There is video & photos that show BB’s rear shoe came loose, after getting stepped on coming out of the gate.
A quick google brings up plenty of info on it.

Here are just a couple quick links


Long-term NYKer here and lived in NY at the time of Big Brown’s Belmont. As I recall, Big Brown had some pretty weak feet, and up to the Belmont, they were trying to keep him sound. They had to deal with a nasty abscess; quarter cracks, he had to run with hoof sutures, extra pads on the shoes, acrylic patches on the hoof wall, etc. I am sure there are experts on this site who can provide all of that old information on Big Brown.

At that time, the New York Post had the best racing coverage, far better than the New York Times, but they were notorious for starting up a lot of gossip. At one point, they alledged that Big Brown was going to run on Bute to make up for an unsoundness associated with his bad feet. I can’t recall if he was still raised on Lasix that day. There was a whole debate at the time as to whether he had won the earlier races because he was on Lasix or was it due to his natural talents. For some reason, NY media did not seem to want Big Brown to win the Triple Crown. " There was a lot of “racing baggage” that followed this team that I can’t recall at this time.

Ah thanks @mommy_peanut. I thought that was speculation. My memory of the event is clearly fuzzy.

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For me, the “greatest” Triple crown winner I ever saw run was Secretariat ( just 7 yrs old) and Seattle Slew. However, I was a BIG Alydar fan, and my sister adored Affirmed, so I still have trouble including him among the “great” group.

I just don’t put “almost TC winner” Spectacular Bid" in that group. But he was a very talented horse. Neither do I put the more recent TC American Pharaoh and Justify in that group. But as someone here or else in a racing article noted, you have the older TC winners that raced more often, sometimes a week apart, carried weight, etc., and the more recent winners. One is talking about two different “types” of horse and shouldn’t be compared to each other. ,
I, as a little horse nut, started my race following in the 1970s in NY without even knowing what I was looking at … to me it was just about teh horses, so I saw all tehtrely great horses like Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Seattle Slew, most of the big name horses from 1970s-to late 1980s… My opinion but the breed seemed to have changed after that and with exception, the TB did not seem the same. Please don’t get me wrong there have been some GREAT horses that have run during this time but with a few exceptions they in my opinion did not measure up to our older stars.

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They really are different types, the old ones and the modern. Count Fleet, my favorite of the TC winners, actually ran in the Withers in between the Preakness and the Belmont because the trainer thought the gap between Preakness and Belmont was too long. Sir Barton and Omaha did likewise, with Sir Barton and Count Fleet winning it and Omaha taking second. Sir Barton’s Derby, Preakness, Withers, and Belmont covered just 32 days.

I can’t imagine a trainer today saying of his Preakness winner, “Boy, we’re just going to have to find another race before the Belmont. If we wait that long to race him again, he’ll be tearing the barn down.”

Then there are the late developers who come into their own later. Cigar, for example. Different types. I doubt Authentic would have won the Derby in May 2020.


I agree Count Fleet was one of the great ones." So was Citation. One of my favorites
was “Whirlaway!” Allegedly, he was a real “goofball,” but his trainer Ben Jones was a true horseman and able to channel his antics into a Triple Crown winner and “hores of the Year.” Cigar is one of those I think about as one of the “greats” that just didn’t run in the spring classics. He was amazing! Forego was another. Can you imagine asking a TB to carry 140 ln nowadays and run two miles? I loved the Jockey Club Gold Cup. When it was run at 2 miles, it defined what a champion was.

I am not quite sure when 1 1/4 miles became the classic distance, but in my opinion, it did the breed a disservice. We lowered the bar to accommodate a TB that couldn’t meet that standard. Why not strive to breed a better horse. I think the racing industry is strange in that aspect. Please, breeders, chime in here. But for most of our competitive sports, such as dressage and showjumping, the US strives to produce a MORE athletic horse, and the standard for a good horse continues to increase. I am not talking about the European horse, as many still look like and perform like our older TBs. Was the progression of the modern TB downward from the older version? Had breed quality had peaked or was something else amiss? I don’t know. I know there are individuals here that have a better understanding than myself as to why there is such a significant difference between the older and modern TB racers.

I don’t have anywhere near the knowledge or experience with TB racing as other folks here, but I have read that the breeding trend for the past 25-30 years has been to breed for precocious speed to produce horses that can run – and win – in the big 3 year old races, particularly the Triple Crown races. That is where the money is – buyers will pay very big bucks for youngsters bred for blazing speed and that demonstrate that speed early on in their training, because everyone wants to think they might have bought a potential contender for the Kentucky Derby, or even better, a potential Derby winner. They also believe they will make back all those $$$$ in stud fees (assuming the horse is a colt), so the incentive is there to try to produce or acquire the fastest youngster around. Of course the horse still has to have enough bottom to make the longer distances, but with so much focus on speedy youngsters, the gene pool keeps getting more and more narrowed toward that type of horse. And that results in a different “type” than what was commonly produced 7-8 or more generations ago.

That kind of makes sense from my “semi-educated” perspective but I am curious to know other people’s thoughts.

If there was a reason to train horses for longer distances, they would be running it. “The breeding” is a lame reason to say that horses don’t run beyond 12f. Yeah there are sprinter types, but you won’t convince me modern pedigrees are devoid of stamina influence. Tapit is a hugely successful commercial sire, with dozens of sons at stud, and has had incredible results with his runners in the Belmont. Other popular sires, like Curlin and MDO, are also able to “run all day.”

IMO, “lack of distance runners” is not a breeding problem, it’s a training, management, and condition book problem. Tracks, especially lower level ones, prefer to card a full day of 5, 6, 7f races. Those low level claimers wheel back every 7-14 days in another 6f race until the meet ends. It might be harder on them to race 2 miles every other week off nothing but a series of 4f works…less horses running, smaller fields, unhappy bettors, unhappy racinos. Its also more difficult foe the average American bettor to handicap and have the attention span, for a two mile race. That’s my take on it, anyway. Those same horses could probably be trained to run 12+ furlongs, if suddenly 6f races ceased to exist. But I’m not sure if current training methods would allow them to compete, and stay sound, and “profitable” as the current status quo.


I agree as stated, the condition books, and the other factors, has caused the decline in longer races.

And from my limited perspective, I do not think the thoroughbred on average has declined. I think the average thoroughbred/ two year old/ yearling or mixed sale has a much better quality horse-conformationally and on paper. In the old days, you could open a sales page and not see any black type. The scince of feeding and raising has gotten better. Certainly, while commerical breeding may be consolidating certain genetics (?-that is a whole other paper), badly conformed horses are not going to sell commercially, so badly conformed individuals are less likely to be bred for commercial sale. Breeding stallions or mares of lesser quality is not economcally feasible whether you keep to race or sell.