Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Than Ready for Another

Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated laments the fact that "[a] generation of American adults is approaching middle age without having seen a horse win the Triple Crown."

And, as a horse racing fan, I, too, find that lamentable. But I am still enough of an optimist to believe — unlike many who follow the sport more closely than I — that it still can be done.

In my life, I have known some people who were quite knowledgeable about horse racing, and I have often heard them say that, because the first two races are much shorter than the third, to win a Triple Crown, a horse must possess both speed and endurance.

Such horses have been referred to as "super horses" at least since the time of the great Secretariat — who really was a super horse.

The distances of the Triple Crown races have varied over the years, but the distances have not changed since 1926, and all but one of the 11 Triple Crown winners have accomplished the feat since that time.

So, while it may be that it will take a "super horse" to break the drought between Triple Crown winners (which is currently 34 years), super horses weren't some sort of phenomenon that burst on to the scene, dominated the sport for a period and then disappeared.

Generations of horses have come and gone since Gallant Fox won all three races in 1930 (when it wasn't officially called the Triple Crown).

Affirmed, in 1978, was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, and I'll Have Another will be the 12th horse since that time to enter the Belmont Stakes with victories in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

The other 11 came up short, but Layden offers hope that, this time, things will be different.

I'll Have Another, Layden reports, "is so formidable because he has a useful combination of natural speed ... and stubborn cardiovascular endurance."

If that is true, the Triple Crown may well be within his grasp.

Meanwhile, I'll Have Another's preparations for his date with destiny appear to be coming along nicely. The Associated Press reports that, after two days of jogging on the Belmont Park oval, he is set to resume galloping tomorrow.

His assistant trainer was enthusiastic. "[H]e gets over the track fantastic," Jack Sisterson said, "he looked super, his energy level is high and he's doing everything we want to see him doing."

Sounds promising.

No comments: