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Should We Mess With the Triple Crown?

Everyone else has had their (not necessarily well-thought-through) say, so...

I say: Yes, we should mess with the Triple Crown.

Not by changing the spacing of the races, not!! by shortening the distances, and not by limiting entrants in the second two legs to Derby runners (under which rule Medal Count, by the way, would be the Belmont winner, and I would have had the exacta).

But by limiting entrants in the Derby to 14 maximum, and by doing it in such a way that a horse need not necessarily win his final prep to get in.

The Triple Crown winners in the past didn't beat 20-horse fields. This ridiculous field size ensures that every year there's a false pace and there are horses who get in trouble and can't run their race. It makes the race harder on all the horses. It's only a matter of time until there's a Grand National-style pileup. It needs to be revised.

Both the previous earnings system and the current points system to get in mean that horses pretty much have to win a major prep to run. This sounds reasonable at first. But it means that these young horses are asked to peak early, and stay at their peak for four or five, not three, races. California Chrome did win three Grade 1 races in a row -- the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. Leaving aside the issues of his injured hoof and iffy trip, he had every right to be tired by the time the Belmont came around.

If you take the winners and second-place finishers of the major preps -- the Santa Anita Derby, Bluegrass Stakes, Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and Wood Memorial -- voila, you get a field of 12, with two spots left over to be awarded by committee, perhaps to fillies who have won major Oaks preps but haven't raced against colts yet, or by graded stakes earnings over a mile.

My .02.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 10th, 2014 12:53 am (UTC)
Yay! You posted. I wanted to hear your thoughts on the race (okay, this isn't precisely that, but close enough).

I tried to reply to your last post giving my pre-race thoughts via email connection and something went flooey, but I wasn't surprised Tonalist won. What I had tentatively said before the race I can now say with close to certainty (, which is that California Chrome beats this horse (which is very similar to him in some ways) if they are both equally fresh. Including at this distance. After watching the first two triple crown races over and over, I was very sure he was the best of the horses in there, all things being equal. Danza and Social Inclusion not running made things a lot more equal than I had been worried about, and was pretty confident going in. My biggest worry were the horses who liked to run early ( particularly those two + Tonalist & CC) going too fast and setting things up for the closers; my second biggest worry was Tonalist simply having more left over the last quarter. & my biggest reason for that worry was hey, fresher horse. 1 easy prep race over this track where he looked almost as good as CC did at Santa Anita. Let's say they are equal in ability, then Tonalist wins. But say CC is a length or even two lengths better. Does the Derby + Preakness against very good fields (even given that he came out of them well and didn't look like he was pushed that hard in the Derby) vs. a blow out win in the Peter Pan cost more than two lengths? Hell, two longer races against better comp, one of them more recent (I'm throwing out the generally busier early year schedule cause I thought that might actually help; he was used to running frequently & might recover faster cause of that, or such was my hope). Obviously the answer turned out to be yes. Or they are a toss up under ideal conditions for both or it was the trip or the injury or not liking part of the track or all of these put together. I'm throwing out the injury because he was in perfect position at the end; he just didn't give his usual burst & not sure he would have been there at all if he was paying attention to that; I don't think it was distance, he just didn't quite have it Saturday.

Kudos to you on picking Medal Count to be up there! I thought there were 5 horses with a decent chance in here and Medal Count and Commissioner were not among them. (I had CC/Tonalist/Commanding Curve/Wicked Strong/Ride On Curlin as the horses whose win wouldn't shock me, fwiw, more or less in that order).

I am torn on whether to mess with the crown & how. If you only want horses way above the rest to win, keep it. Of course, CC IS way above Medal Count or Commissioner and he still lost to them, so ...

My own idea (if I was going to support a change, which I'm not at all sure of) was re-spacing the races; in particular re-spacing the time tween Preakness and Belmont so you don't have already tired horses going further than they ever have before or likely will again. The Derby to Preakness combo doesn't get so many weird results. (Tonalist wasn't a weird result; but you can't convince me the other two are even close to CC, even at this distance, under similar circumstances)

I'm totally picking CC to finish ahead of any other 3 year old (at least of those I've seen) in the Breeder's Cup Classic, tho, unless someone else makes a leap 'tween now and then.

Okay, this was more on these 3 year olds than whether to change the races (agree with you that the distances MUST stay the same or something important is lost) in some way, but my thoughts on them are a lot clearer.

Jun. 11th, 2014 01:02 am (UTC)
I was wrong. Or at least, having rewatched the race multiple times, I'm changing my mind. I hate making xcuses like this or blaming people who were in a better position than me to make the judgement call in question, esp when all the involved judgement calls were perfectly defensible, but ...

I think with a better ride CC probably would have won. Should not have pulled him back so much there at the beginning, and the wide run around the turn may have had as much to do with why he didn't fire as being tired. I still like this jockey, btw, twas just one bad race. Probably remembering previous horses who fired too early and faded when they might have won the triple crown. And if CC was fresh I think probably would have won anyway, with this trip, so factor that in to the decision making.

Still don't think that distance is a problem for him. Still think he is far and away the best 3 year old. Still love that he is so game. I should probably re watch the race now to see what I think of Tonalist and if I can figure out why Commissioner & Medal Count ran so much better here than previous. What was your handicap on Medal Count? I missed that. Will review older posts in a sec.

Still not sure what I think about the triple crown spacing or field sizes, still very sure the distances need to stay the same.
Jun. 11th, 2014 01:12 am (UTC)
Medal Count ran well in the Belmont, sneaky-well in the Derby, and was bred for the distance. I didn't see Commissioner coming either.

There's really no way to tell if California Chrome can get 1 1/2 miles. Had he made his move then gotten caught, which was what I expected to happen, it would be clear. But he was out so wide just at the point when he needed to accelerate. Whether it was the trip, general fatigue, or his injured hoof, it's just hard to tell.

Luckily it does currently look like he will be back in fall.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )