The Horse Sense Blog compares the nonsense in today's news with good ol' fashioned horse sense

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

California Chrome Won The Belmont Stakes?

Here's the Nonsense:  The Triple Crown is a tough set of races.  It doesn't matter that the rules are set up to create less of a chance for a winner.  Either you win or not, even if your competition is allowed to be more rested.

Here's the Horse Sense:  The Triple Crown is really not set up properly for an honest competition. Horses are allowed to compete in any of the 3 races without competing in the Triple Crown.  But this puts horses who haven't endured as much physical stress in competition with fresh horses and thereby reduces the chances of a Triple Crown win.  

Much of America was hoping for California Chrome to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, which would have made him the first Triple Crown winner in horse racing in 36 years.  However, for those of us who watched the race, disappointment set in when he ended up in a dead heat for 4th place.  But did he really lose the Triple Crown, or are we not hearing the whole story?

After the race pictures, were taken of an injury to California Chrome's foot.  No one was sure how he got injured, but it was said to be a painful injury.  That alone could be good reason for a finish short of first place.  But while that's a sad thing that may have robbed him of better performance, the real question is how the competition is held.  

One of the things that many people don't realize is how exhausting these races are to these horses.  First the Kentucky Derby, which is a monumental win for any horse, followed by the Preakness, another demanding race, and finished up with the Belmont, the longest and toughest of the three races, the Triple Crown is nothing short of grueling for any horse to complete, let alone win.  

But is it right that horses can choose to compete in only one or two of the races instead of all three?  Are the chances of winning the Triple Crown harder for those who compete in all 3 because their win could be undermined by a horse that is fresher and able to run at a different level of performance because they do not have the earlier races taxing their bodies?  That's what some are claiming and it's a reasonable inquiry.

If the Triple Crown is to be a true ultimate test of 3 year old race horses, then shouldn't the Triple Crown be limited to horses only competing in all 3 races?  Sure, if you don't compete in all 3 races, you can't win the Triple Crown.  But if, as happened Saturday, a number of horse owners chose not to compete for the Triple Crown and so they hadn't participated in one or both of the races prior to the Belmont.  The result was that their horses were racing for the win of the single event of the Belmont and due to their rested state were able to compete at a different level than horses competing for the Triple Crown.  Because they could win the Belmont without being Triple Crown competitors means that the Triple Crown contenders have a reduced chance at winning.

California Chrome was only beaten by horses that had not competed in both races before the Belmont.  Technically, he came in first of the horses that competed in all 3 races.  So, of those horses, he was the winner.  Wouldn't it only be right for horse racing to make the Triple Crown only allow horses in each of the 3 races that are competing for that title?  That would show a true competition of the horses who went the distance by running in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

I'm sure no one is going to change the way things have been done for all the years the Triple Crown has been run.  But it's too bad because little California Chrome had won the hearts of Americans and it would have been nice if he'd won the Triple Crown title, too.

Regardless of why California Chrome may not have won the Triple Crown, he's won the hearts of America.