Joel Rosario is one of the best jockeys in the country, but he didn't ride one of his best races on Orb in the Preakness.
BALTIMORE, Md. (WDRB) – Notes Written On A Canceled Belmont
You can argue that Joel Rosario has been the best jockey in
the country this year. You can also argue that Rosario delivered his worst ride
when Orb finished fourth, beaten nine lengths in the Preakness Saturday.
Check the Pimlico timer again. Now check the Preakness
history book. You won't believe it.
Oxbow and jockey Gary Stevens won the race from gate to
wire. His winning time of 1:57.54 was more than a 1 ½ seconds slower than the
performance by I'll Have Another last year. No big deal. Track and weather
conditions can vary.
Keep digging: It was the slowest winning time in the
Preakness since 1961, when Carry Back was timed in 1:57.60. The nine-horse
field started slowly – and never got in a hurry.
From the front end, Stevens knew he was stealing the race on
Oxbow because of the slow pace. Closer to the back of the pack, Rosario said he
thought the pace was legitimate and the leaders would eventually return to him,
as they did in the Kentucky Derby.
Rosario is savvy and talented. Very talented. He leads the
nation with 145 wins and more than $8.6 million in purse money this year. He
carries a winning percentage of 25 percent.
But Joel Rosario simply didn't ride one of his best races
Saturday. He never pressed a plodding pace. He kept Orb inside in a spot where the colt never seemed comfortable and eager to move into contention.
Rosario and his fellow riders let Gary Stevens and Oxbow win the
Preakness as easily as a Triple Crown race can be won.
*Now that the gap between Triple Crown winners will stretch
to at least 36 years, it's time to ask the annual question:
What's the problem, guys? I'll start with trainer D. Wayne
Lukas, because his win with Oxbow gives him 14 wins in the Triple Crown series –
four in the Kentucky Derby, six in the Preakness and four in the Belmont
"We're not breeding that well," Lukas said. "We're breeding
them for speed and we're breeding confirmation.
"There's guys in Kentucky have figured out that the horses
that sell well, the ones that they want to breed, they don't really get too
concerned about step two and how they're going to turn out as race horses.
"They just want them to look good – and they breed them that
way. That's good. That's the economics of it.
"The other thing is that it's a very difficult series. It's
no longer a three-race series. It's about a five-race series … by the time you
get to the Belmont, you've got a little wear and tear on these horses."
Bob Baffert is another trainer who once moved within an inch
of a Triple Crown – and didn't get there. That was with Real Quiet in 1998, but
he was also beaten in the a Triple Crown Belmont with Silver Charm in 1997 and
War Emblem in 2002.
Baffert did not point a finger at breeders – or owners or
trainers or the increased amount of drugs administered to this generation of
horses. But he is convinced that horses are not as robust as they once were.
Baffert said that prior to one of his three Triple Crown pursuits
in the Belmont, he asked turf writer Steve Haskin to research how vigorously
top trainers like Lucien Lauren (Secretariat, 1973) and Laz Barrera (Affirmed,
1978) worked their colts after the Preakness.
They worked them fast – and often.
"I said, ‘Man, I can't do that. I'll have nothing left,' "
Baffert said. "Those were really tough horses. They worked Secretariat 59 and
change a week later. Then they worked him a mile in 35. Came back and blew him
out in 59. If I do that, all I'm going to lead up there is hair and lactic
acid. I'll have nothing left.
"That's why I have so much respect for those 12 horses (who
have won the Triple Crown). Not only were they really fast and really good
horses, yeah, they were made of iron."
*College football hype is cranking up with the release of
2013 rankings by a variety of web sites. I knew it wouldn't be long until the
opening week point spreads arrived. BetOnline.com has already delivered:
Kentucky by 3 to ruin Bobby Petrino's debut at Western
Louisville by 16 over Ohio University to begin the
Cardinals' pursuit of a 12-0 season.
Vanderbilt by 4 ½ over Ole Miss and it's off the charts
Penn State by 4 over new ACC power Syracuse.
Oklahoma State by 6 ½ over Mississippi State in a Big 12-SEC
Cincinnati by 14 over Purdue and its new coach Darrell
Notre Dame by 28 over Temple in the first game for the Fighting
Irish without Manti Te'o.
Alabama by 14 over Virginia Tech as the Crimson Tech chase a