Teresa Genaro is a high school English teacher and freelance turf writer whose work has appeared in a variety of turf publications. A former and erstwhile resident of Saratoga Springs, she lives in Brooklyn and writes about New York racing at Brooklyn Backstretch.
Almost any time of day, one can come up with a good reason to go to the backstretch. At 8 pm on the night of the Belmont, there’s one exceptionally good reason: to visit the winner of the Belmont Stakes.
It’s quiet everywhere, but as we turn the corner, we see Summer Bird in his stall, his owners and trainers standing outside it, along with writers and fans. He is lively; his ears are pricked, and he is in constant motion. He circles in his stall, comes to the door, poses; circles again, comes to the door, poses. He seems to know that this evening attention is unusual, and he’s making the most of it.
His young exercise rider, Chris Trosclair, bounds in, exuberant. When I was here on Belmont morning, Chris told the story of his parents arriving in the middle of the night Saturday, awakening him at 3 am, only a little while before his alarm went off. Now, seventeen hours late, none of them looks even remotely tired.
Across from Summer Bird’s stall hangs the blanket of carnations, still pristine. Kent Desormeaux arrives, shakes hands, accepts congratulations, has a word with his Belmont winner, hand stroking that now-regal head.
The group is moving towards the door; Tim Ice has both a birthday and a Belmont win to celebrate. We reluctantly follow, taking one last look at the 2009 Belmont winner. And as we head towards the car, we notice that over the barns, in the near-darkness, hangs a full and resplendent moon, lighting the last steps of the 2009 Triple Crown trail.
Photo credit to Jessica Chapel
, who inspired this visit.