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TrackNotes: Single Crown

The operating BS of the majority is that if one horse wins all three of the races this year, it will be a Triple Crown.

No. And. NO!

Although Tiz the Law was quite impressive in winning Saturday's running of the 152nd Belmont Stakes (Grade I, 1-1/8 miles, $1,000,000), it was really a non-competitive, dime-a-dozen 9-furlong zip race that should forever carry an asterisk. All the talking heads, except Bloodhorse's Steve Haskin on FoxSports1, either lent full endorsement to this race being a true Belmont and Triple Crown race, or basically avoided the issue.

The beauty of a real Belmont is that it is the ultimate Test of Champions, 1.5 miles. With the time between this year's races, there will be no such test.

The other nine horses were never going to beat Tiz the Law, who prevailed by a cruising 3-3/4 lengths over Dr Post and Max Player. There was no 12, or even 10, furlongs to equalize this field, a hallmark of the Belmont that delegitimizes the 2020 version.

There's more proof. While there was a lot of hope for a high-priced upset, all of the horses finished basically in the order of their odds. With the exception of Tap It to Win, who toasted after being on the lead, and Sole Volante, who took extra money as the wiseguy "closer" choice who finished mid-pack.

Also, the Belmont was the longest race of the day on dirt. That also diminished the quality of the card.

While 'Law never led until late, he was in full control of the race, under Manny Franco, and had all the gas in the tank he needed when called upon inside of the quarter pole. It gave 82-year-old veteran trainer Barclay Tagg his first Belmont Stakes win. He also trained Funny Cide for the same Sackatoga Stables when his Triple Crown was thwarted at Belmont in 2003. Tiz the Law is the first New York-bred to win the Belmont since 1882's Forester.

With Nadal injured/retired, Charlatan injured and Maxfield training for a comeback from injury, Tiz the Law is the clear leader of the three-year-olds. Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said 'Law will go next in the Travers Stakes, moved up three weeks to August 8 as Saratoga announced its 2020 stakes schedule. If Tagg can keep Tiz the Law going well, the Travers-Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Breeders' Cup races cycle will all be a month apart.

In a perfectly predictable race, Tap It to Win shot to the early lead out of the one post, pushed strongly on the pace by Fore Left. Those two were done on the turn and as soon as they spun out of the turn, Tiz the Law promptly took control and ran away. Dr Post dug in - perhaps because Irad Ortiz was beating the hell out of him in a clearly futile situation - for second and Max Player showed good speed to overcome others and take Place.

In a race like this, you look past the winner to see if any of the others may have overcome a bad trip to finish valiantly. Um, nope. Unless Tiz the Law regresses, these other don't measure up.

I had the Exacta and Dr Post, but for what? Choking chalk.

Gamine, the Bob Baffert filly who was one of two Bafferts who tested positive for lidocaine on Arkansas Derby Day, annihilated The Acorn Stakes by 18-3/4 lungs and set a new race record in 1:32.55.

Churchell Downs
When in The Hell of Kentucky is Churchill Downs Inc. going to get its vindictive act together and stop acting like babies? It has luxuriated itself in the 2020 robes of divisiveness.

This sounds hypocritical, but I do have a CDI-owned account. I keep a few dollars in there and bet with it occasionally to keep it honest. I use it almost exclusively for the track video feeds. This is what you would see at the track or the OTB. The big benefit is constant, live odds.

I log in yesterday, and the only Belmont race they were taking bets on is the Belmont Stakes! The track had six graded stakes races, four of them Grade Is. OK, fine. I'm betting elsewhere.

Then, as the clock ticks two races before the big one, the video freezes. I do the usual first aid. NBC is on, but they show the odds only sporadically and they're on the screen for about 1.3 seconds. So now, I'm all over every site I can think of to find the live odds. I thought I found them, but then I see those odds and NBC's DON'T AGREE!

Finally, I used the page at NYRA, Belmont's overseer.

What if Joe in Kokomo has only two things? TwinSpires and AOL e-mail? What's he supposed to do?

I'll say this. Churchill has a decent card next week to close out this meet. But because Belmont's meet is compressed, its stakes stacked for a couple weeks and then Keeneland opens to make up its spring meet, I won't have to worry about Churchill until they open for the Derby. But I'm not going to bet Churchill or the Derby. They won't get one dime from me.

P.S.: Arlington Park is nearly two months into what would have been its meet.

Dog Legs & Tail Wagging
Boys boys, boys: It's the BREEDING!

NBC's Eddie Olczyk, Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey all advocated in a panel discussion to space out the Triple Crown races - in a normal year - to put more than two weeks between the Derby and Preakness, and more than three weeks from Preakness to Belmont.

Moss's twisted argument was that because the Preakness is only two weeks later than the Derby, many of the better horses who lost the Derby skip the Preakness, thereby giving the Derby winner an easier road to the Triple Crown. Moss called it a "cheapening" of the Triple Crown. Horse trainers today are loathe to enter a runner at anything less than a month, or more, or way more. Tiz the Law had not run since March 28. Many of the others had not run since February or early March.

Their arguments are the tail wagging the dog, the underlying factor is that horses today run so little compared to earlier generations.

In 1948, Citation ran in the Jersey Shore between the Preakness and Belmont. I know that was a long time ago, but these money-hungry breeders have bred the structure and stamina out of these horses. Their legs are like twigs. Nadal and Charlatan both suffered broken leg bones in training and Maxfield is back in training after having bone chips removed, which cost him a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Imagine what kind of race the Belmont would have been with these horses entered, healthy.

American Pharoah in 2015 was a freak because he recovered so quickly after each grueling race. You could see it on the shed row after a race. Justify in 2018 never ran at two-years-old and got hot for his Crown. With his Santa Anita drug positive, he's not on my Triple Crown list.

I don't want to hear three TV suits yammer about "the health of the equine athlete" when breeders are taking that health out of the horses.


Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

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