The Triple Crown is horse racing's crowning public event, but Triple Crown near-misses are its stock-in-trade—since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 11 horses have come into the crown's final jewel with the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes already won only to fall short for one reason or other. Into the 2012 Belmont Stakes trots I'll Have Another, underdog winner of both earlier races. So: Why is it so difficult to take a Triple Crown bid all the way?
Chris Korman of the Baltimore Sun has some reasons. Chief among them is the race's length; it's 1 1/2 miles, a quarter-mile longer than the Derby and an unfamiliar length for most three-year-old horses. Horse-racing insiders also seem uncomfortable with the idea of I'll Have Another's inexperienced jockey, Mario Guttierez, knowing how to pilot the horse through that unfamiliar terrain in particular.
For all that, the reason it's toughest is that winning any one race is extremely tough; while I'll Have Another's odds aren't any longer for having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes already, it's hard to believe they give him any forward momentum, either. Particularly because he's a horse.
More 2012 Belmont Stakes news from SB Nation St. Louis:
- No matter who wins, having a Triple Crown contender is beautiful news for NBC's ratings.
- Among his tougher competitors, I'll Have Another will have to deal with Dullahan, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby and is back after skipping the Preakness.