Surely, no disappointment is greater than losing the Triple Crown by a narrow margin in the Belmont. But ranking a very close second is a first-round loss in the Kentucky Derby. If there is one Triple Crown race to win, many trainers agreed the Derby is the one.
It was a day of princes, presidents, and Pegasus. With Belmont Park rocking from the surge of electricity generated by the presence of former President Bill Clinton and his wife, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Point Given finally sprouted the wings his owner, Prince Ahmed Salman, trainer Bob Baffert, and jockey Gary Stevens had envisioned all along.
Twenty-four hours after his triumphant ride on Point Given in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens had a scare when he suffered a strain to the same fragile knee that drove him into early retirement in December 1999. Fortunately, Stevens said on Monday, the injury isn't serious.
Ongoing, successful sports operations don't just get that way through the good fortune of chance. At the heart of achievement is the teamwork that melds individuals into a cohesive, powerful whole. Nowhere was this teamwork more in evidence than through this year's Triple Crown adventures of Point Given.
Champion Langfuhr's first winner emerged June 10 when Happy to Be Home won at five furlongs in 1.00.39 at Woodbine at first asking.
In a race marred by a spill involving 13-10 favorite Marine, Sir Alfred rallied in the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Ascot Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 3/4 lengths over Hoovergetthekeys at Bay Meadows.
Saturday at Arlington
One week before Father's Day, Bienamado earned a 1 1/2-length victory in Hollywood Park's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT), a race his sire Bien Bien won in course-record time in 1993.
Trainers Bobby Frankel and Craig Dollase each sent out a pair of horses to run in Sunday's $500,000 Californian Stakes (gr. II) and then watched as their horses filled the top four finishing positions in the Hollywood Park race.
Under highweight of 122 pounds, Tracy Farmer's Albert the Great broke well and continued on to win Sunday's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) by 3 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park.
Overnight television ratings for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) jumped 44 percent to 4.9 and captured 13 percent of Saturday afternoon's viewing audience in the country's top 51 media markets.
Daniel Wildenstein's Aquarelliste maintained her unblemished career record Sunday at Chantilly, utilizing a wide rally to win the Prix de Diane Hermes--French Oaks (Fr-I) by 1 1/2 lengths over Nadia.
New York sports radio personality Mike Francesa made $50,000 in wagers on the Belmont Stakes to benefit the Imus Ranch, and his earnings for the race totaled $62,782.25.
Last year's French Oaks (gr. I) winner Egyptband earned her first win as a 4-year-old Sunday in the Grand Prix de Chantilly (Fr-II) on the undercard of this year's Oaks.
Grade I winners Sandpit, River Flyer, and Wild Escapade were represented by their first winners the first part of June.
Irish stallion Sadler's Wells continues to put some distance between himself and former leader Sir Tristram in the category of group/grade I winners. Sadler's Wells came up with No. 48 when his son Galileo captured Saturday's Epsom Derby (Eng-I) for the Coolmore connection of Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor.
Links to daily newspaper articles on the Belmont Stakes.
Gary Garber's Flame Thrower, who was vanned off the track following a second-place finish to Put It Back in Saturday's Riva Ridge Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, was scheduled to be flown to California on Sunday and undergo surgery after suffering a lateral condylar fracture of his left front distal metacarpus. Dr. Don Baker, who treated the Bob Baffert runner, said the injury is not life-threatening.
In his final analysis of the Belmont Stakes, The Blood-Horse's Steve Haskin went out on a limb and explained "Why Point Given Should Dominate." He was exactly right.
Sunday at Churchill Downs
Making his turf racing debut Saturday while equipped with blinkers for the first time, Joseph Lacombe and Frank and Jane Lyon's Indygo Shiner earned a neck-length victory in the $282,500 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
Corey Nakatani stole the 100th running of the $400,000 Manhattan (gr. IT) on the Belmont Park turf course Saturday, giving 7-1 outsider Forbidden Apple a textbook ride on the front end and defeating favored King Cugat by a diminishing three-parts of a length. Stablemates Tijiyr and Sumitas finished third and fourth, respectively, while last year's Eclipse Award-winning turf female, Perfect Sting, wound up sixth.
In near wire-to-wire fashion,.Put It Back scored his fifth consecutive victory in the Riva Ridge Stakes (gr. II) that was part of the Belmont Stakes undercard. Favored Flame Thrower finished second by a neck, then was taken off the track in a van with a compression bandage on his left front leg.
The successful team of trainer Elliott Walden and rider Pat Day teamed up with the 6-year-old mare License Fee to capture the $175,000 Grade III Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile on the Belmont Park turf. License Fee was sent off as the slight 2-1 favorite in the field of 12. Owned by WinStar Farm, License Fee won for the 16th time in 42 lifetime starts. She has earned nearly $1.2 million in her career.
Bucking a daylong speed bias, John Rotella's Say Florida Sandy rallied from off a torrid pace to capture the $150,000 Grade II True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II) may have picked up two more starters when the connections of Da Devil and Connected declared their horses will likely be entered in the 1 1/8-mile Churchill Downs event.
Eugene and Laura Melnyk announced that they have committed $1 million toward the construction of a child care center at Belmont Park to care primarily for the children of backstretch employees. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this November, with the facility to be completed in six-to-nine months.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who recently swept both the Irish One Thousand (Ire-I) and Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I), completed another classic double at Epsom Saturday when Galileo gave him his first Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) victory. Galileo's win also completed a classic sweep for sire Sadler's Wells, who also sired Friday's Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner, the O'Brien-trained Imagine.
Continuing a week-long trend of perfect weather, Belmont Day dawned sunny with a pleasing, refreshing breeze. Forecasts call for the afternoon to remain sunny with a high of 82. The main track will be fast. New York Racing Association officials, citing a stronger Belmont Stakes field and nicer weather, were anticipating an attendance figure that improves on last year's on-site gathering of 67,000.
Bienamado, freshened since his victory in the April 14 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita and unbeaten in three grass stakes at Hollywood Park, will carry high weight of 124 pounds in the grade I, $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf.
In what he hopes is a preview of Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), trainer John Ward Jr. scored a big triumph in the $200,000 grade I Acorn with 50-1 shot Forest Secrets.
Map shows counties affected by spring syndromes.
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Trainer Norman Miracle said he's likely to appeal a $2,000 fine he received in connection with the switching of two horses at Churchill Downs. One of them is a half-brother to Monarchos, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby.
John Oxley, owner of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, and Gary and Mary
West, owners of Dollar Bill, have pledged to donate 1% of the winner's share of the purse to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation with a victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The winner's share of the grade I event is $600,000, which means $6,000 would go toward research.
S. Christian Brown, retired former president and CEO of Criticare Therapy Products in Richmond, Va., and an active Thoroughbred owner and breeder in West Virginia and New York since 1972, died of leukemia on Memorial Day, May 28, at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia. He was 73.
As part of the festivities on Belmont Stakes Day this Saturday, handicappers can take a shot at enhanced exotic pools in the $1 million guaranteed Pick Six and the $250,000 guaranteed Pick Four.
The $50,000 that will be wagered on Saturday's Belmont Stakes to benefit the Imus Ranch, a working cattle ranch in New Mexico that takes in kids with cancer and lets them work with horses and other livestock, will likely be riding on Point Given.
Augustin Stable's Praise The Prince rebounded from a neck loss in his last start to win the third running of Belmont Park's $107,100 Meadowbrook Steeplechase.
Imagine completed a classic double when she won the Epsom Oaks Friday in England. On May 27, the Sadler's Wells filly won the Irish One Thousand Guineas at the Curragh.
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will attend Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The senator will present the trophy to the winning connections of the third leg of the Triple Crown.
The name has changed, but the drug has not. Lasix is now SALIX in the veterinary industry. When Intervet acquired Hoechst Roussel Vet in November 1999, Intervet agreed that Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Hoechst AG) would retain Lasix as the registered trademark for the human drug. This is why the veterinary furosemide product has now become SALIX.
The decision by stewards to disqualify German-bred Zollner from first in Monday's Grosser Muller Brot-Preis (Ger-II) and award the race to Royal Dragon has been overturned on appeal.
The Jockey Club has launched an inquiry into whether artificial insemination was used at Valley Creek Farm in California, which is co-owned by Jack Liebau, one of its members. Additionally, the Jockey Club has agreed to conduct a hearing into the fraudulent registration of four Palomino Thoroughbreds.
There's no good news in the weather forecast for racing fans whose favorite Belmont horses favor off tracks.
Ireland's Coolmore Stud reportedly is attempting to purchase all or part of Golan, the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas winner who is expected to go off as one of the favorites in Saturday's Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) in England.
Hialeah Park has transferred $585,000 of the remaining $1.3 million held in horsemen's accounts to Calder Race Course.
- By Steve Haskin
We're going to venture out on that precarious and proverbial limb, even at the risk of leaving certain trainers dumfounded over our out-of-the-norm audacity. We're not going to be brazen enough to state emphatically that Point Given is the biggest lock in the Belmont Stakes since Secretariat. But...
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