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I suggest a Triple Crown retool June 8, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Horse Racing, Media, Music, Personal, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV.
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After what transpired at yesterday’s Belmont Stakes, next year will mark 37 years since the last Triple Crown winner – Affirmed.  Since then, thoroughbred racing has had close call after close call after close call, as three-year-old horses will win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but fall short at Belmont.  It doesn’t happen every year, but it’s still heartbreaking and frustrating.  I suggest the Triple Crown format be retooled.  Before I explain how, there is a backstory.

I first became aware of the Triple Crown races in 1997.  That year, Silver Charm was the unlucky horse to lose at Belmont Park in Elmont.  Then there was Real Quiet a year later.  He barely lost to Victory Gallop.  The year after that, Charismatic fell short.  Three years later, there was another three-year stretch of horses to win the first two legs and fall short: War Emblem, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones.  In 2008, there was Big Brown.  He came up far short at Belmont.  In 2012, I’ll Have Another was scratched the day before the race!

That brings us to this year and California Chrome.  I was at a second birthday party and watched the Kentucky Derby on TV, like I always do.  His win gave me an opportunity to allude to the Mamas and the Papas hit, “California Dreamin’.”  The announcers on TV did the same.  Two weeks later, I was in an Italian restaurant as the Preakness Stakes was run.  The sound was off on the TV ahead of my booth, but the closed-captioning was on.  When California Chrome won that, I knew we were in for another three weeks of hype that would only be followed by heartbreak.  When you see the same thing play out over many years, you know what to expect.

On Facebook, I floated a ridiculous idea:

If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, thereby winning the Triple Crown, NBC should send a check for $36 to each Nielsen household tuned to them during the race. That would be one dollar for each year since the last Triple Crown winner: Affirmed in 1978.

In the comment thread, I amended that to $3.60, but perhaps 36 cents would have made even more sense.

I floated that idea because I knew California Chrome would lose.  I would have loved for him to win, which turned into thinking he actually would win.  So, as I watched the Belmont Stakes on my iPhone yesterday at another restaurant, I closed the NBC Sports Live Extra app in frustration after Larry Collmus said in the home stretch that there wouldn’t be a Triple Crown winner this year.  I don’t even know who won and don’t care.

Now for my suggestion: Horses that win the Kentucky Derby should not be allowed to run the Preakness Stakes.  That will avoid future heartbreaking Belmont Stakes.  If they can’t run in the Preakness, they can’t possibly win it to set up Triple Crown talk.

It’s another ridiculous suggestion, I’m sure, and one that is born out of sour grapes, but I would love to see it happen.  The days of Triple Crown winners ended in 1978.  I don’t see it ever happening again.

6/9 UPDATE: A rebuttal by Jeff Kroll:

These ideas for change are generally coming from the generation that has not seen a “Triple Crown” win.  Those of us who were around in the ’70s and saw 3 of them know it’s special, and that it can happen.  It will take a very special horse and a lot of luck.  The winning time yesterday on a fast track was still 4 1/2 seconds slower than Secratariat’s world-record 2.24 Flat in 1973.  This group of horses is just not that “special.”

They’re certainly special enough to win two legs, but unfortunately not all three.  I wish I was alive to see Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed win.  Archived video is all I’ve had to go on, particularly of Secretariat’s dominant Belmont win that Jeff mentioned.

6/6/15 UPDATE: This year was finally the year! American Pharoah won the Triple Crown!

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Comments»

1. Triple Crown, at last! | MikeChimeri.com - June 6, 2015

[…] days ago, a day after California Chrome fell short at the Belmont Stakes, I bitterly suggested a Triple Crown retool. This was my […]


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