JC / Railbird

Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes Day

Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes, and the 2017 Triple Crown season ends with trainer Todd Pletcher taking two of the three races and super-sire Tapit getting his third Belmont winner, achieving that record within four years:

The star of the Belmont card, though, was Songbird, making her 4-year-old debut a winning one in the Ogden Phipps. It was hardly an effortless return for the champion, who had to fend off a strong challenge from Paid Up Subscriber on the turn and work to get past her in the stretch. An appreciative crowd gave the filly and jockey Mike Smith an ovation when the pair paused in front of the clubhouse apron on their way to the winner’s circle.

“Let’s call this a great race off the layoff,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “I’m not sure she’s at the top of her game right now, but she did very well today.”

Beyer and TimeformUS speed figures for the Belmont card graded races:

Race Winner BSF TFUS
Belmont Stakes Tapwrit 103 120
Manhattan Ascend 104 130
Met Mile Mor Spirit 117 130
Just a Game Antonoe 101 119
Woody Stephens American Anthem 102 121
Jaipur Stakes Disco Partner 109 120
Ogden Phipps Songbird 97 116
Acorn Stakes Abel Tasman 99 117
Brooklyn War Story 102 114

Figures via DRF stakes results and TFUS figuremaker Craig Milkowski.

Watch the Belmont Stakes and replays of the other graded races:

Belmont Day Figures

Creator noses out Destin to win the 2016 Belmont Stakes
Creator noses out Destin to win the 2016 Belmont Stakes. Photo Credit: NYRA.

Beyer and TimeformUS speed figures for the Belmont Stakes day card:

Race Winner BSF TFUS
Belmont Stakes Creator 99 120
Manhattan Flintshire 110 129
Met Mile Frosted 123 135
Just a Game Celestine 107 129
Woody Stephens Tom’s Ready 95 117
Jaipur Stakes Pure Sensation 102 121
Ogden Phipps Cavorting 102 127
Brooklyn Shaman Ghost 99 120
Acorn Stakes Carina Mia 98 114

Figures via DRF stakes results and TFUS figuremaker Craig Milkowski.

The WOW performance of Saturday afternoon was Frosted’s 14 1/4 length win in the Met Mile as the 2-1 favorite. His winning margin is believed to be a record for the race, as is his final time of 1:32.73. Watch the replay:

View the complete Belmont Stakes day playlist ›

Prediction

Jeff Scott:

Tonalist and Palace Malice won’t be as well-received at stud as American Pharoah, but they should have their supporters — especially Tonalist, who is a son of leading sire Tapit. With three top-class Belmont winners being added to the U.S. stallion roster, the result could be a much-needed injection of stamina into the U.S. gene pool.

The Times

More about American Pharoah’s Belmont Stakes fractions from Matt Gardner, admiring the Trakus times for the Triple Crown winner:

Look at that consistency because it’s a thing of beauty.

American Pharoah churned out :12 after :12 after :12. He came home the last quarter mile of the mile and a half Test of Champions in 24.17 after setting all the early fractions. He did the dirty work early and still had something left in the tank …

I don’t want to lose sight of the horse for the numbers, but, yeah — his :12 second furlongs from start to finish are gorgeous in their symmetry.

Bob Barry of Around Two Turns has written a lovely appreciation:

American Pharoah’s seemingly effortless yet ruthlessly efficient action, which lends to that appearance of him seeming to glide above the racetrack, was the basis of his early fame and almost certainly his armor against the rigors of the Triple Crown season. That certain je ne sais quoi which first caught all the eyes at Clocker’s Corner, enabled him, at the end of three hard races in five weeks, to somehow run the last half mile of his Belmont faster than he ran its first. He is the very model of a modern Triple Crown winner.

Brian Hoffacker expresses the effect of such visual ease well: “Here’s how efficient and talented American Pharoah is: He hasn’t done anything to shock me yet, and I thought I’d never see a Triple Crown.”

Don’t call the Triple Crown winner great yet, writes Sam Walker:

The problem at present for American Pharoah is that while he may be clearly the best three-year-old in America, the standard of his rivals is not yet clear. He’s essentially flying high above unknown terrain.

But he is important, says Daniel Ross:

At a time when the sport has never had to work as hard for recognition and relevance, American Pharoah reminded a nation that widely regards horse racing in this country as overtly cruel, and callous, and uncaring, that the same spectacle can still produce transcendental moments.

The Atlantic decided to remind people of both the transcendent and the brutal on its homepage. Here’s what was there on Monday at approximately 8:00 AM:

I think I’m mostly grateful other publications haven’t posted similar pairings.

Belmont Stakes 2015 Wrap

The crowd at Belmont Park after American Pharoah wins the 2015 Belmont Stakes and becomes the 12th Triple Crown winner
The crowd at Belmont Park celebrates. Credit: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The Triple Crown winner isn’t sticking around — New York, at least. American Pharoah met the media, charmed the “TODAY” show audience, and boarded a van leaving Belmont Park around 7:30 AM, arriving back at Churchill Downs by 1:30 PM, less than 19 hours after he won the Belmont Stakes and became the 12th Triple Crown winner in American racing, the first in 37 years.

The first in 37 years.

Like a lot of horse racing fans, I don’t remember the last one. I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. He’s marvelous! It’s wonderful! The minutes before the race were nerve-wracking, the seconds it took him to cross the wire — 5 1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Frosted — thrilling.

There is satisfaction in discovering that a Triple Crown is still possible.

“After seeing what we saw on Saturday,” writes Jason Gay, “can we all agree that stubborn old horse racing had this the right way all along?”

The Triple Crown just needed a racehorse who could take one of the hardest things we ask a young horse to do and make it look easy.

American Pharoah completed the 1 1/2-mile race in 2:26.65, and he did it by going to the lead and reeling off steady :24 quarters, running the first half in :48.31, the first six furlongs in 1:13.41, and the first mile in 1:37.99:

The incremental times for the 2015 Belmont Stakes
DRF incremental times above. View the official Equibase chart (PDF).

He was never pushed, never threatened. Materiality, tasked with keeping the 3-5 favorite honest on the front, was out of contention before the mile. Frosted looked like a challenger at the top of the stretch — for a stride. American Pharoah gave him no ground. He was going to get away with it all.

“I’m telling you,” said jockey Victor Espinoza afterwards, “in the first turn it was the best feeling I’ve ever had.” Watch the replay:

The 12th Triple Crown winner was given a Beyer speed figure of 105 for the Belmont Stakes. TimeformUS gave him a speed figure of 128. His figures are as consistent as his fractions — American Pharoah’s Preakness and Kentucky Derby Beyers were 102 and 105, his TFUS numbers 125 and 127.

Trainer Bob Baffert reported on Sunday morning that American Pharoah came out of the Belmont in good shape. “Looking at the horse today, he looked pretty darn good for a horse that just ran a mile and a half,” said Baffert. “He’s a tough horse. Today he looked like he could run back in three weeks.”

Per the NYRA press office notes, the plan is for the colt to race again:

“After we freshen him up, we have options,” said Baffert, who mentioned the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, and a “little race” at Del Mar, most likely the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

Jay Privman explains why he believes the Pacific Classic is likely: “it would certainly be an endorsement by Zayat of the return to dirt at Del Mar to run there this summer, and there’s no bigger ‘get’ right now than American Pharoah, who — remember — hasn’t raced in California this year. Yet.”

The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland is the goal for his final career start.

Recaps! Tim Layden recounts the Belmont Stakes and the weeks before, when the word chingon became code for the confidence of the American Pharoah campJoe Drape captures the moment the Triple Crown became real to the 90,000 at Belmont ParkBrendan Prunty writes about the build-up.

More recaps and reactions are bookmarked on this page; I’ll be adding to it.

Belmont Stakes Day 2015

There’s only one question today: Can American Pharoah win the Triple Crown?

The numbers are in his favor, Gary West writes:

The 11 Triple Crown winners emerged from crops that averaged 10,922 foals. The 13 horses since 1978 whose bids failed in New York came from crops that averaged 36,418 foals, and among so many, nobody’s talent was so superior that he could overcome circumstances and vicissitudes, as well as rivals. In 1970, on the other hand, 24,361 racehorses were foaled, and one of them was Secretariat. In 1974, Seattle Slew was in a crop of 27,586; and in 1975, Affirmed in a crop of 28,271.

Steve Haskin says he fits the profile of a Triple Crown winner.

Jon White has 10 reasons he will win (and five concerns).

Seven are lining up against American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes gate. If he wins, he’ll have defeated 31 challengers, one fewer than War Admiral in 1937.

Picks for the Belmont Stakes card are up on Hello Race Fans.

House Rule

Relevant Belmont Stakes-eve information on whip use via the New York Times:

In New York, the state issues a fine or penalty for excessive use of the whip. But since 2010, racing stewards have also enforced a house rule of no more than five strikes in succession, with a pause of two or three strides to see if the horse responds.

When a rider violates the rule, one of the tan wall phones in the jockeys’ locker room will ring, Dr. Hill said, and the call will go out: “Movies for Jockey A tomorrow” — meaning a violation was caught on film, and the jockey will be given a $500 fine that will go to a track-related charity.

Retired jockey and NYRA analyst Richard Migliore says he’d like to see a whip rule that goes beyond the soon-to-be implemented California guidelines: “one strike of the whip, then wait a few strides to see if the horse responds.”

← Before