We are in the final days and counting down for the Belmont Stakes.
Like many Virginia equestrians I have been eagerly following the Triple Crown races this year. The Kentucky Derby was spectacular with Mine That Bird's dash from behind and up the rail to win by a substancial margin piloted by his colorful jockey Calvin Borrel.
The excitment built further with the leadup to the Preakness. Rachael Alexandra was added to the field and Calvin gave up the ride on Mine That Bird to be her jockey. Imagine giving up the ride on the Derby winner. The race answered the questions of whether a filly could run against the colts and whether Mine That Bird was truly a contender or was his win a fluke. All of us who watched will remember the excitement as the filly led the whole way and Mine That Bird raced up from last place to challenge her at the end only to not have quite enough room.
Now we are left with the questions leading into the Belmont of will Rachael Alexander run. After all she has proved that she can beat the colts. And who will ride Mine That Bird? If the filly runs Borrel will be aboard her, but what if she doesn't. Preakness jockey Mike Smith will honor a previous commitment and ride in California. Who could imagine that a Derby winner would have such a hard time deeping his jockey.
If you are eager for information and behind the scenes color on the Triple Crown races, horses and trainers, the place to go is Joe Drape's blog The Rail. Joe Drape is the New York Times horse racing reporter and he has five guest bloggers contributing to this blog. One of these is Alex Brown who is one of my facebook friends and happens to be an exercise rider for Steve Asmussen who is now the trainer of Rachael Alexander.
However it plays out all of this year's hoopla has been good for racing. The Belmont should turn out to be a very interesting race. I can't wait!
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