May 28th 2017
The general feeling I got after Preakness Stakes is horse racing in North America is sort of dead until next season since we won’t have a Triple Crown contender entering Belmont. So go back to gardening, watching baseball, break out the lawn dart set because this sport offers very little now. Great racing is over, there are no compelling stories to follow until next Derby trail season.
Two words: Au contraire! There is a lot to look forward to (I’ll explain later) and this is what baffles me every year after the Kentucky Derby. This year my blog received 18,409 views on Kentucky Derby Day. That works out to be an average of 767 views per hour, an average of one view every 4.7 seconds. The day after the Derby? I got 988 views total. The drop-off had nothing to do with bad handicapping as I provided betting advice in that blog that would have tripled your money.
For whatever reason, this captivating sport loses a ton of fans and interest after the Kentucky Derby only to see a significant spike around the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Yes, if we have a Triple Crown contender entering Belmont, there is another mild spike in interest. However, interest in the sport really seems to boil down to two big events: the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
I will never understand this as I feel the sport has so much more to offer than two big events or a Triple Crown run that usually ends disappointingly. So what does the sport have to offer this summer until the Breeders’ Cup? A lot.
Did many seem to forget that the all-time leading money earner in North American horse racing is still in training? A horse that broke a track record at one of the oldest sports venues (Saratoga) in the North America. Arrogate certainly seems to have the talent to ultimately be considered the greatest thoroughbred since Secretariat as his trainer Bob Baffert suggested after his amazing Dubai World Cup win. He just needs more starts and wins to strengthen his case.
Arrogate’s Next Start? It appears that he is being pointed for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 19th as a prelude to another entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic which will be held at Del Mar this fall.
Songbird & the battle for 4-Year-Old Female Dirt Champ
Did everyone forget about Songbird who has a chance to become the greatest filly/mare of all-time? She’ll need to beat “the boys” at some point but Songbird will have all she can handle in her own division this year battling Stellar Wind and Vale Dori.
Stellar Wind gave Beholder fits last year. She is the recent winner of the Apple Blossom Stakes and a winner of four career Grade 1 stakes races. The Bob Baffert-trained Vale Dori has won six straight races, four of which have been graded stakes races at Santa Anita Park. It appears that Stellar Wind may meet up with Vale Dori at Santa Anita in next Saturday’s race (June 3rd) in the Beholder Mile Stakes.
Songbird, who had a mild setback in training due to an injury, will make her 2017 debut in the Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park in a couple of weeks on June 10th (Belmont Stakes Day). Then at some point, she will meet up Stellar Wind and/or Vale Dori for the battle of the reigning Queen of thoroughbred racing.
3-Year-Old Male Dirt Champion?
Although we won’t have a Triple Crown contender this year, the race for who ultimately wins the Eclipse 3-Year-Old Male Dirt Champion award will be interesting with the depth of talent that we have in this 2017 Derby class. I feel that the Preakness Stakes (shown above) provided a good visual for how tough it will be to win the award this year. Right now, I feel like the Top Four 3-year-old colts are as follows:
- Always Dreaming – Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby winner
- Classic Empire – Arkansas Derby winner and Preakness Stakes Runner-Up
- Cloud Computing – Preakness Stakes winner
- Gormley – Santa Anita Derby winner
I based this ranking off the point system that the Breeders’ Cup uses for entry into the Classic. So the Belmont Stakes coming up in a few weeks on June 10th, the Haskell Invitational and Travers Stakes races in the month of August will go a long way in sorting out the real champion before we get to the Breeders’ Cup World Championship this fall.
On the docket…
My next blog will preview the Belmont Stakes if I don’t feel compelled to write on some other topic before then. I will be writing my first installment of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings at some point soon.