OK, so we don’t have a horse trying for the Triple Crown. Even if we did, chances are it wasn’t going to happen anyway. At least that’s what history has told us year after year for the past 32 years.
This year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) has taken it's fair share of abuse from the media and the public, who act as if it is the race’s fault the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winners are no shows.
If people think there is nothing historical about this year’s Belmont, they are greatly mistaken. Here are some of the historical feats that can be accomplished:
If Make Music For Me wins, Alexis Barba will become the first female trainer in history to win a classic. How’s that for a marketing angle to start off with?
If Drosselmeyer wins, WinStar Farm will become the first owner since August Belmont II in 1896 to win two legs of the Triple Crown in one year with two different horses trained by two different trainers. Belmont won the Preakness with Margrave, who was trained by Byron McClelland, and the Belmont with Hastings, who was trained by John J. Hyland.
Only two owners since had won two legs with two different horses -- Ethel D. Jacobs with Personality (Preakness) and High Echelon (Belmont) in 1970 and Overbrook Farm with Grindstone (Kentucky Derby) and Editor's Note (Belmont) in 1996, but Personality and High Echelon were trained by the same person (John Jacobs), as were Grindstone and Editor's Note (D. Wayne Lukas).
If Fly Down wins, Nick Zito will become the first trainer in modern history (and possibly ever) to finish first, second, and third in the Triple Crown in one year with three different horses. That is racing’s equivalent to hitting for the cycle.
The irony of the 2010 Triple Crown would be Nick Zito placing in all three Triple Crown races with two horses (Ice Box and Jackson Bend) who are out of Tabasco Cat mares. It was Tabasco Cat who defeated Zito's Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin in the 1994 Preakness and Belmont Stakes. If not for Tabasco Cat, Go For Gin, who was second in both races, would have won the Triple Crown.
The likely top three favorites in the Belmont -- Ice Box, First Dude , and Fly Down -- are all by sons of A.P. Indy (Pulpit, Stephen Got Even , and Mineshaft ). That would be a first.
If Ice Box finishes first, second, or third, Robert LaPenta will become the first owner in modern history to place in all three Triple Crown races in one year with two different horses.
Nick Zito has hit the board in 25 Triple Crown races, winning the Kentucky Derby twice, the Preakness once, and the Belmont twice. He also has finished second nine times -- six times in the Belmont, twice in the Preakness, and once in the Derby. If Ice Box and Fly Down both finish in the top four in the Belmont it will put Zito only four behind D. Wayne Lukas, who has hit the board in a record 31 Triple Crown races. Lukas, however, has accomplished his feat with 26 more starters.