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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.

So How Did We Do?

Monday, June 13, 2011

 So back a few weeks ago, we looked at some trends in the Belmont over the last 20 years.  How did the 2011 renewal live up to those trends? Let’s take a look.

Said trainer Dale Romans after the Preakness:   “You know, Woody Stephens said a long time ago, Belmont is a speed horse's race.”

Perhaps. Perhaps. Not this year, though, to the disappointment of Shackleford’s many fans. That quotation didn’t influence many bettors, though, as he was sent off as the fourth choice, at odds of 6.30-1.

I noted that eight horses in the last 20 years had won the race by sitting close to the pace.  Make that nine…Ruler On Ice was never more than a length from the lead.

In the last 20 years, only one winner has led wire to wire.  Sorry, Shackleford. 

The Belmont has offered generous prices over the last two decades, and this year was no exception.  Ruler On Ice crushed the 20-year average payout of $15.30, paying $51.50; the previous high payout was Commendable’s $39.60 in 2000.

And take a look at this…I wrote:

“As for attendance…in non-Triple Crown years, an average of 52, 082 have turned out for New York’s biggest racing day. When the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness show up, so do an average of an additional 3,000 fans.”

Saturday attendance was 55,779.  Not bad, eh? We should have been taking prop bets on that one.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners have met in the Belmont five times since 1991, with the Preakness winner taking the Belmont four of those times. The Preakness winner finished ahead of the Derby winner again this year, but neither came near crossing the wire first. One can’t help but wonder, though, how different the outcome might have been had not Animal Kingdom stumbled so badly at the start.  

The weather gods were not kind to Belmont on this damp, chilly, and at times miserable Saturday. But even as people shivered and sought warm spaces in this place’s massive expanse (the Heritage Bar might have been the most popular spot in the place), they refused to let weather deter their pleasure.

Even when races started way back on the other side of the track, the crowd cheered at the break. Horses returning to the winner’s circle received ovations. And when the sounds of Frank Sinatra wafted through Belmont before the big race, nearly 56,000 racing fans joined in, audible even from above the crowd.

If you were here, I hope that you had a great day and that you cashed plenty of tickets. If you weren’t, you’ve got a year to plan for Belmont 2012.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and see you next year.  

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