This is the time of year I beat back my inner wise guy and acknowledge, yes, I’d like a horse to pull into New York with a chance to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first to do so since Affirmed in 1978. The reason? When the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes champion shows up at Belmont Park it really feels like a grand old racetrack in Long Island.
Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004) and Big Brown (2008) put racing front and center during their quest to sweep the sport’s holy grail. It was good for the soul of horseplayers and horse lovers alike.
We got lost in weeks of prerace drama, rose to our feet when those horses pounded down Belmont’s grueling stretch and got our hearts broken a little when their bids failed. We were not, however, disappointed.
But the past two years, all but the most optimistic among us doubted Super Saver or Mine That Bird could get out of here with the Preakness trophy. I was one who hoped against hope. Lookin at Lucky was better than Super Saver — except for Derby day, when he got buried coming out of the No. 1 post and lost all chance.