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Jenny Kellner is an award-winning journalist and educator who has written about horse racing for more than 20 years. She has been a media specialist with NYRA for the past four years.

Spring at Last!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

As I write this, the countdown clock on this website tells me there are 44 days, 3 hours and 12 minutes until the horses load into the gate for the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes. It doesn’t seem like such a long time, but when you think that just 45 days ago Belmont Park looked like this …

.. you know a lot can happen. Last year at this time, Drosselmeyer was a relative unknown, boasting one maiden win, one allowance win, and a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, his only stakes start. Two years ago in April, Summer Bird had only a maiden win on his resume, as did Da’ Tara the previous year. And in late April of 2007, who would have thought a filly would set the “Test of the Champion” on its ear?

According to pundits, this year’s Kentucky Derby picture is as murky as it gets. With one hopeful after another stepping off the Derby trail, it seems to be anyone’s race and talk of a Triple Crown seems very premature, if not downright outlandish.

But this year, like every year, as racing returns to Belmont Park after another hard winter, we hope. Someone will win the Derby, and we hope it will be a horse good enough to win the Preakness, and we hope against hope there will be a horse great enough to join the ranks of Whirlaway and Seattle Slew and Gallant Fox and the eight others who swept the series.

Two days before the meet begins, the paddock at Belmont Park is empty save for the newly planted flowers and the great bronze statue of Secretariat. Thirty-eight years ago, Big Red broke a 25-year Triple Crown drought; today, that drought stretches back 33 years to Affirmed. But even as the workmen hustle to ready this great arena for opening day, Secretariat’s statue gleams anew under a warm spring sun, the rigors of the winter buffed away as he stands silently, a reminder of the glory that awaits the next champion.

Comments :

  • Janice Hollister | January 21 2012 01:40 AM

    Jenny, in reference to your story concerning Omaha, the son of Gallant Fox... I talked with the Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and he says the story about home ec students throwing scraps to Omaha is FALSE. I can send you his e-mail if you wish. I was researching this as a group of women from got curious about the whereabout of Omaha since they can no longer find his grave. Curiously enough, I did find Morton Porter the man who accompanied Omaha in a train Express Car all the way from New York to Nebraska City. Morton is the son of Grove Porter, the man who owned the farm where Omaha stayed. Morton is still alive and has some great stories to tell. Omaha would have been 80 years old this 2012.

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