For the third 12 months in a row, the Belmont Stakes will likely be run with no Triple Crown on the road, however this time, organizers are possible relieved simply to have a aggressive and (they hope) uncontroversial horse race on their fingers.
It has been a tumultuous spring for the game. Medina Spirit examined optimistic for betamethasone, a corticosteroid, after profitable the Kentucky Derby on Could 1 and completed third within the Preakness whereas a second pattern was examined. After the Preakness, the New York Racing Affiliation introduced that the colt’s coach, Bob Baffert, a two-time Triple Crown winner and essentially the most well-known particular person within the sport, can be barred from operating horses at any New York tracks till additional discover.
On Wednesday, the presence of betamethasone in Medina Spirit on the Kentucky Derby was confirmed, setting the stage for the horse to turn into the second winner within the 147-year historical past of the Derby to be disqualified due to a failed drug check.
Citing the optimistic check, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert, a seven-time winner of the Derby, from getting into horses on the racetrack in Louisville, Ky., for 2 years, which means no horse educated by Baffert or his steady can race within the Derby in 2022 or 2023.
“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the security of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are usually not acceptable and as an organization we should take measures to reveal that they won’t be tolerated,” Invoice Carstanjen, chief govt of Churchill Downs, stated Wednesday.
On the Belmont Stakes, Rombauer — the winner of the Preakness — will headline the sphere of eight horses. Protection of the Belmont will start Saturday at 3 p.m. Japanese time on NBC Sports activities Community and can proceed on NBC at 5 p.m. Publish time for the race is 6:49 p.m.
Right here’s what else you have to know in regards to the 153rd operating of the race.
The Belmont returns to regular this 12 months, principally.
This 12 months, the Belmont Stakes returns to its regular mile-and-a-half distance (it was a mile and an eighth final 12 months) and its conventional placement as the ultimate leg of the Triple Crown. The pandemic altered the Triple Crown schedule closely in 2020: The Belmont was held in June as the primary leg for the primary time, the Derby was in September, and the Preakness, normally the second of the three races, got here in October. None admitted spectators.
All have returned to their common spots on the calendar with restricted followers this 12 months. The introduced crowd for the Kentucky Derby on Could 1 was 51,838, near a 3rd of the venue’s normal capability, however on the time it was the largest crowd at a sporting occasion for the reason that pandemic started. Attendance for the Preakness on Could 15 was capped at 10,000. That may be a little lower than 10 p.c of the monitor’s normal capability.
When tickets went on sale for the Belmont in Could, attendance was capped at 11,000 followers based mostly on New York State steerage that out of doors sports activities and leisure venues function at 33 p.c capability and all spectators submit proof of vaccination or a damaging coronavirus check consequence.
Since then, that steerage has been relaxed and organizers have launched some extra tickets, however nonetheless count on about 11,000 individuals. (The Belmont’s attendance report of 120,139 was set in 2004, when Birdstone denied Smarty Jones a Triple Crown sweep.) Proof of vaccination or a damaging check is not required, and masks are necessary just for unvaccinated company. There are not any normal admission tickets, and socially distanced seating is proscribed to reserved seats and hospitality areas (some sections are designated for vaccinated individuals solely). Belmont’s signature yard picnic space — normally coated with blankets and tenting chairs — will as a substitute be stuffed with picnic tables that have been offered in teams of six at greater than $100 every.
In 2020, Tiz the Regulation grew to become the primary New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes in 138 years, however he did so on the shorter distance, not the punishing mile and a half that conjures up the race’s nickname, the Check of the Champion. He completed second within the Derby, ending his modified Triple Crown hopes.
The Derby favourite is the favourite once more.
Rombauer defeated Midnight Bourbon by three and a half lengths within the Preakness, however he’s not the morning-line favourite within the Belmont. That distinction goes to Important High quality, the Derby favourite who was bumped on the gate, ran huge round each turns and completed a fast-closing fourth for his first loss in six begins.
Important High quality is owned by the controversial ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has tactical pace and shouldn’t have any drawback with the mile and a half as his sire, Tapit, has produced three Belmont winners. Rombauer, who didn’t race within the Derby, picks up the veteran New York jockey John Velazquez, who gained his fourth Derby aboard Medina Spirit.
Moreover Important High quality, different horses who ran within the Derby are Bourbonic, Scorching Rod Charlie, Rock Your World and Recognized Agenda. Like Rombauer, the Japan-based France Go de Ina didn’t run within the Derby; he completed second to final within the Preakness. No horses will compete in all three Triple Crown races this 12 months.
There’s one contemporary horse within the race, Overtook, the third-place finisher within the Peter Pan Stakes right here in early Could. He will likely be ridden by Manny Franco and is considered one of three Belmont entries for the coach Todd Pletcher, together with Bourbonic and Recognized Agenda. Pletcher has three wins within the Belmont (Rags to Riches, Palace Malice and Tapwrit), six second-place finishes, and three thirds from 30 prior starters.
Bourbonic will likely be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, who might turn into the primary Black jockey to win the race since Willie Simms in 1894. Recognized Agenda was scheduled to be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. — the highest jockey in North America and at Belmont Park — however he was injured when his mount stumbled within the fifth race at Belmont on Thursday and will likely be sidelined not less than two weeks. Ortiz was scheduled to journey in all 13 races on the Belmont card on Saturday, establishing a livid sprint by jockeys’ brokers to get their riders on his mounts.