Historical Perspectives

There are some things to be grateful for about this 144th running of the Belmont Stakes.

We should be grateful that I’ll Have Another did NOT run in this race. Because if he had run in this race he probably would have broken down in it. And the LAST thing we needed was for a Triple Crown candidate to have broken down in the Belmont.

That would have been almost as bad as Prairie Bayou breaking down and ultimately being sent to horse heaven after running in the 1993 Belmont. The only saving grace of that was that Prairie Bayou was posthumously honored as champion three-year-old (as opposed to that piece of shit Sea Hero).

It would have been as bad as Charismatic breaking down right around the wire in the 1999 Belmont. Charismatic was already beaten at the time the injury occurred. The injury did NOT prevent a Triple Crown. Lemon Drop Kid won that Belmont at long odds and went on to be champion older male the next year and a pretty good sire.

The only saving grace of that 1999 Belmont was that Charismatic’s jockey (the late Chris Antley) was smart enough to jump off the horse and support the injured leg long enough for the veterinarians to get there and SAVE the horse. Not that Charismatic was a particularly good sire. He was NOT. But at least he had a CHANCE.

Of course we are all disappointed that I’ll Have Another did not get a chance to prove (or disprove) that he was really a Triple Crown winner. Many in the FORMER camp. Many in the LATTER camp.

I like to think that I was in the MIDDLE camp. The group that just wanted to see history made once again (positively or negatively). Now that IHA is definitely retired, I feel more free to offer the following historical perspective on how he stacks up against the Triple Crown winners and losers (mainly the latter) of the past.

IHA was not nearly as good a racehorse as Spectacular  Bid, Sunday Silence, or Alysheba (the last based more on his four-year-old campaign than his three-year-old campaign). IHA was not nearly as good a racehorse as Easy Goer (who foiled the Triple Crown bid of Sunday Silence by eight lengths in the 1989 Belmont).

IHA was approximately as good a racehorse as Pleasant Colony, Bet Twice (who foiled Alysheba in the 1987 Belmont), Silver Charm, and Real Quiet (and Victory Gallop, who foiled Real Quiet in 1998).

IHA was a better racehorse than Charismatic (who was Horse of the Year in 1999 only because it was such a pathetically weak year), War Emblem, and Funny Cide. And I have to add that Funny Cide was a better racehorse than War Emblem. Funny Cide (a gelding) at least raced until age seven and won some more races (including a G1). War Emblem was a piece of shit (unfortunately the BEST piece of shit of that crop and “champion” at age three supposedly).

I think that leaves only Smarty Jones and Big Brown unclassified. If I were a judge in this case I would have to seek a recusal for myself. I LOATHED both of those nags (the latter particularly, for reasons having more to do more with the persons associated with them and buying into them as future stallions than the nags themselves).

Suffice it to say that the 2004 and 2008 Belmonts were two of the HAPPIEST days of my life. Justice was meted out on those two days. REALITY prevailed over FANTASY on those two days.

Lauren Hillenbrand of Seabiscuit fame wrote in “Waiting for the Next Secretariat”:

“Deserving horses have lost the Triple Crown, but no undeserving horse has ever won it, and none ever will.”

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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9 Responses to Historical Perspectives

  1. Double Jay says:

    I enjoyed your perspective & thought the quote, “Deserving horses have lost the Triple Crown, but no undeserving horse has ever won it, and none ever will,” very appropriate and encouraging. Glad you gave IHA some respect as a hoss. I have heard way too much from the bitter cranks. IHA’s team did show so much class under the scrutiny. That was a pleasant surprise too. It was a great ride while it lasted and no horse was hurt. It was a great race & I enjoyed the Manhattan too, go Rosie GO! That woman can ride. Tapitsfly got her first G1. It started out as a miserable day, mostly due to personal issues and I wasn’t incredibly interested in even watching the race. My elderly uncle who is my racing fan buddy called me up to be sure I was still coming to watch the race. I’m glad I went. There is nothing like watching some great races and talking horses. It is good for the soul. Why? I surely don’t know.

    • ddink55 says:

      I agree that the IHA team showed a lot of class under all the scrutiny. Why is racing good for the soul????? Perhaps John Nerud expressed it best: “Even a BAD day at the races is better than a GOOD day anywhere else.”

  2. Bast says:

    I am grateful that I’ll Have Another did not run, and relieved that there were no disasters. It’s disappointing to realize that yet another crop of not-remarkable 3 y os is with us, but that conclusion is hard to deny. American racing just isn’t the fun it used to be, with good horses hardly running at all.

    One thing I always keep in mind when a horse has particularly obnoxious and irritating connections: horses don’t pick their people. They are stuck with whoever pays their bills. I realized this in 1975, when after the match race, with Ruffian not yet removed from the track, the connections of Foolish Pleasure announced, all smiles, that they would have won anyway. Foolish Pleasure didn’t ask for this association, and didn’t deserve the ill will his people so well deserved.

    • ddink55 says:

      Excellent point!!!! And Foolish Pleasure is a good example. About 30 years ago I really liked Slew o’ Gold. A lot of people HATED that horse because they thought (perhaps correctly) that his connections were a bunch of assholes. I never understood that attitude. I need to be more cognizant of falling into the same trap myself.

  3. jim culpepper says:

    I began to favor IHA in the TC because because he seemed to be staying sound despite being ridden very hard, but I began to worry when “stillriledup” posted in his blog that IHA was likely not sturdy enough to stay sound. I guess this illustrates the difference between a guy who still feels their legs every day and someone like me who bolted for the exit at age 30, having grown tired of hot checks, lame horses and horse traders. Undoubtedly, there have been a few colts that would have been far above the rest no matter the year and I confess that a studied cynicism is the better part of valor even for games far more sane than the one ring, thousand clown circus called racing; still, even in this day where the trend drifts toward pretty horses and fast women of questionable soundness, despite nostalgia, this was the best crop for THIS year and that was the race. Scientific stock breeders avoid this trap through contemporary group testing and especially contemporary progeny testing. Well, OK! I admitt that the whiskey also seemed better when I was a kid, just as did the horses. Apologies to Union Rags, whom I suspected Of lacking the guts for Belmont.

    • ddink55 says:

      Apologies accepted on behalf of Union Rags. I confess that I have gone back and forth in my own mind as to the quality of this crop. I was pretty down on it before the race yesterday. Now I am feeling somewhat more optimistic.

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