By Shawn Rychling
When Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973 he snapped a 25-year drought becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1948. Citation was the fourth horse to win the Triple Crown in the 1940s after Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943) and Assault (1946).
After Secretariat swept the Triple Crown with that 31-length domination of the Belmont, it sparked a run on the Triple Crown with Seattle Slew taking it in 1977 and Affirmed outdueling Alydar the next year in 1978.
We then had to wait 37 years – until 2015 – and American Pharoah winning Triple Crown.
The point of this is that we just may have a situation where Triple Crown winners come in bunches. After watching Justify win the Kentucky Derby last week would you bet against him in the Preakness. The Bob Baffert-trained colt ran a quarter mile in 22.24 and a half in 45.77 in the slop. Jockey Mike Smith nudged him into the lead at the half-mile pole and he never looked back. When Good Magic tried to run at him, Justify toyed with him and expanded the lead. The final time wasn’t all that fast, but nobody was catching him.
Rivals have shied away from facing the Derby winner in the Preakness and it looks like it may be a 5- or 6-horse field in Baltimore. Baffert may be the only trainer who could overcome the Apollo jinx, the last horse to win the Derby without the benefit of a race as a 2-year-old and Apollo’s win came in 1882. To give you an idea how times have changed, Secretariat race nine times as a 2-year-old and 21 times in his career. American Pharoah raced only three times as at 2 and 11 times in his career. Meanwhile, Justify’s first race was on Feb. 18 of this year. Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was his fourth start in a career that had only lasted 76 days to that point. Amazing.
One week to go to see if Justify can get the second leg on the Triple Crown at the Preakness. Now back to Belmont and Saturday’s card which features several graded stakes, including the Peter Pan, the local prep for the Belmont Stakes.
Here’s a look at the Early Pick 4:
Race 2: (1) Cumulative rebounded from dirt debacle last time and is major contender if he can run back to fall starts. (7) Big Agenda owns best, last-race speed figure and drops in first time for a tag. (11) Salsa Jack enters off two solid efforts and may be sitting on best effort in third career attempt. (2) Shiloh Lane drops in first time for a tag.
Race 3: (6) Holiday Disguise is 2 for 2 at Belmont and returns to a grade 3 after a win at that same level last time, and is also working well for this try. (1) Sounds Delicious ran just behind our top pick last time. (2) Kirby’s Penny owns best, last-race speed figure. (3) Chalon has hit the board in four straight starts and 7 of 9 in career and note the two solid efforts in Grade 2 stakes.
Race 4: – (8) Scatsuku enters off decent debut during which he was caught 5-wide so look for improvement on second start and tighter line around the track. (5) Ferrad’s Party offers some value here switching back to turf which he likes and we have to toss the last race when he ducked inward in the gap between the chute and main track. (1) Giant Boo Boo steps up in second start and gets an upgrade in the saddle. (12) Sparky owns best speed figure, but outside post may be a tough assignment. (9) Lem Me Tell Ya prefers turf and has run consistently enough to compete.
Race 5: – (8) Macagone drops down for this one and shortens up as well. Have to think this one will be sharper second off a long layoff as he went out pretty quickly on the front end that last start. (4) English Minister stretches out a bit for this start and is eligible to move forward on that solid effort off a freshening. (7) American Guru seems to tower over this field. (5) Voodoo Song needed that last race and should be ready to roll second off a long layoff.
A B C
Race 2 1, 7 11 2
Race 3 6 1, 2 3
Race 4 5, 8 12 1, 9
Race 5 7, 8 4, 5 x
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