Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Belmont (one week away)

I'll Have Another Noses out Bodemeister

It's hard not to think about the Belmont and the Triple Crown without seeing the Rorschach blot of  Dick Dutrow back sweat as he ingloriously exits from the cameras and ascends the ancient steps of a scorched and bathroom-deficient Belmont, leaving without the prize Big Brown was supposed to deliver. But this year's quest for immortality seems different. Big Brown didn't lose to his competition. He was eased out of the race. I'll Have Another has Dullahan and Union Rags standing like two monoliths before the gates. Dullahan just worked a half in 45.8 and Union Rags's jock, whose been on many good ones, felt on his first ride that this colt was otherworldly. If I'll Have Another can pull this off, he's earned his spot in the pantheon.  

Big Brown's jock Kent Desormeaux was interviewed recently about I'll Have Another's chances and he wasn't optimistic. To add to the surreality, this interview came days after his blood alcohol tested high, and he was knocked off his mount on Dullahan (some wine with dinner, he said). But even more surreal was his comment about how horses have it wired into their head that they have to accelerate at the start of the final turn, which you can't do on Belmont's mile and a half track. He said you have to "mediate" that. Maybe true, but at some point you want to shake KD into some self-awareness. He had to know this interview was gonna get tagged with more about his blood-alcohol levels, and for Big Brown fans it's hard to not accept possible "over-mediation" on his part in Big Brown's Belmont, especially in the initial stages of that race. But I like Desormeaux. He belongs in the Hall of Fame and is probably the best turf jockey in the country right now. I also know he really cares about the horses and has made many visits to Old Friends, an equine retirement center, where he's as playful and kindhearted as can be. 

Mario Gutierrez is still trying to get mounts at Belmont, which seems strange. But not really. This is New York. The outsider doesn't get the magnanimous free ride because he's been on TV. This sort of thing will never change. And O'Neil who was dealt a possible suspension in California seems to be weathering the cirucs as well as he can. He took in the first Mets No-Hitter the other night. I wonder if he saw the chalk dust rise on that hit by Beltran that was ruled foul. Those flying granules of chalk that could have made the difference between a half decade of history and NoHan. Some times you need a little luck.