Remember Steve Coburn, owner of California Chrome? After his horse lost in the 2014 Belmont Stakes, dashing hopes of the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years, Coburn was not happy with the result of the race and a fresher horse just choosing to race in the Belmont.
Coburn said after the race that he didn’t think he’d see another Triple Crown winner. There’s been two since (American Pharoah the following year and Justify in 2018). He misguidedly said that he said all horses should run all three races, and not just one.
Though I’m in disagreement with what he said in 2014, I would change some things around with the Triple Crown knowing that in 2023, only the Kentucky Derby winner Mage will be running this Saturday at Pimlico for the Preakness, maybe it is time to figure out a way that more than one horse runs in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
I think we can agree that horse racing isn’t what it used to be in terms of horses running back in short periods of time. With many owners and trainers picking their spots instead of running all three races, maybe it’s time to change things around. I don’t think my idea is that radical of a change, but it would still make heads spin in the horse racing industry, while not changing racing dates too much if at all at Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park.
I am of the firm belief that if you were to ask a sports fan randomly without asking when the Kentucky Derby is, not many people will tell you accurately when the Preakness States and Belmont Stakes are. Maybe it is time to change that. Maybe with my idea, fans will know exactly when all three Triple Crown races are run, and who knows, maybe we get owners and trainers to wheel their horses back in the Preakness with my proposal.
Keep the Triple Crown a Hard Achievement for a Horse
I want to keep the Triple Crown a hard achievement for a horse. But no matter how you time these races, you have to be a super horse to win. I just think if we put the races on American holidays, we will know exactly when these races are run without hesitation for every person’s and every horse’s sake.
I’ll keep the Kentucky Derby where it is. You ask someone when the Kentucky Derby is, you should get “the first Saturday in May” more than not. It’s been engrained in our sports minds forever when the Derby is. I don’t want to change that.
Since we have a different mentality of running horses back over the last 5, 10 or 15 years or so, I want to see if we can get more horses to run in the Preakness, and possibly all three races. Let’s get more horses to run in the Preakness by running the race on Memorial Day. People will know when the race is run and although it’s a varying time between races, there’s a good possibility more than one horse from this year’s Derby field would have shown up in Baltimore.
Since the Preakness will move to Memorial Day under my plan, the Belmont will have to be moved as well. Since we have the Preakness on a holiday, then let’s move the Belmont to the 4th of July. This will give horses and their owners and trainers about five weeks to run the test of a champion, and the race should have a larger field with the Preakness horses, and some Kentucky Derby horses that said no thank you for a run for the Black-Eyed Susans in Baltimore.
If this set up that I am proposing happened this year, Pimlico runs until June 4, and Belmont races until July 9. At least for this year, there are no issues with having to accommodate my Triple Crown set up with other tracks in the Maryland and NYRA circuits. Both circuits are well oiled machines, so even if there is a conflict in race days, I’m sure this would just be a minor inconvenience towards towards getting the fans back to the races or at the very least, plunking down a few bucks on their horse.
Now I admit there is no perfect solution. If Mage wins the Triple Crown this year, is it less of a Triple Crown because so few horses ran? Is it less of an achievement if we space these races out? Either way, dispute an angry and misguided rant, maybe Steve Coburn was onto something.