For the first time in history, the three races
that make up thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown have been shuffled out of
traditional order, thanks to the chaos of Covid-19.
Typically, the Kentucky Derby, which falls on
the first Saturday in May, kicks off the competition, followed by the Preakness
around mid-May, and finally, the Belmont Stakes. This year, the Belmont takes
the lead on June 20th, followed by the Derby on September 5th, with the
Preakness bringing up the rear on October 3rd.
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert texted Sports Illustrated, “Would
have preferred the traditional Triple Crown but we are all just trying to get
through this. Glad they didn’t cancel them. It will still be very exciting
races and probably tougher because of the time between races.”
Or will it?
Horses Race to a New Rhythm
Contrary to Baffert’s projection, the wait
between races might not prove tougher for the jockeys and, in fact, it might
even be beneficial to the horses.
According to analysis by Sports Illustrated
writer Pat Forde, Why the Revamped Triple Crown Dates Could Actually Be a
Win for Horse Racing, “The recovery time between races will only
help in terms of health, and presumably in terms of ownership groups’ interest
in contesting all three.”
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted
sports -- from athletic events to amateur endeavors and even professional instruction -- the impact might
wind up being advantageous for thoroughbred racing, even with restrictions in
place. Racing fans will bear witness to a remarkable restriction during this
year’s Belmont Stakes: no spectators. The stands at Belmont Park will be empty
in the ongoing attempt to mitigate Covid-19 exposure and continue to flatten
Despite the silence surrounding the now
shortened 1 ⅛-mile course, the horses will still thunder down the track, ridden
by jockeys eager to secure first place and do so in record time.
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