- I haven't weighed in with a strong opinion on the decision not to run Street Sense because I don't really have one. I think there are valid points made by both sides, though it must be said definitively that no one has the right to demand that the trainer or owner run their horse whether it's for the good of the game or whatever. (And full disclosure demands that Bill Finley let us know if he has a futures bet on Street Sense in the Belmont.) But we can ask politely, especially when the rider and trainer spoke of how well he did in his workout.
A couple of readers questioned the decision. Lenny wrote:
I can not believe Nafzger said that if SS ran in the Belmont he would not have sufficient time to recover and prepare for the Travers. Last time I checked the Travers was in late August, meaning the horse would have two months to rest before the Jim Dandy or Haskell. Is two months not enough time?Reader kjc wrote:
Nafzger had said that Tafel so badly wanted to win the Triple Crown that when they lost at the wire it took a lot out of them and left them totally disappointed. Are we then to believe that if they did win in Baltimore that the Belmont would be contested no matter what the situation, whether Street Sense was 100% or less?Taken together, those two arguments make a compelling case - the fact is that he's only run four times and he'd likely have enough time to prepare for the Travers even if he ran in the Belmont, as he most assuredly would have if Borel hadn't peeked over his shoulder (just kidding), probably even if he was less than 100%.
But on the other hand, he didn't win the Preakness, and I think it's understandable that the Belmont isn't a compelling attraction for Mr. Tafel now, with the prospects of the late summer and fall championship races to come. I know not everyone would agree with this, but I think that the Belmont, because of its mile and a half distance, is just not a definitive race these days unless it's determining a Triple Crown. To me, it doesn't determine who is the better horse, but rather, merely who is the better horse at a mile and a half. And since that is a freaky distance nowadays, it doesn't necessarily mean a thing to me. Easy Goer was eight lengths better than Sunday Silence at a mile and a half, but would anyone say he was a better horse? (OK, I know some people will always believe that he was..)
Of course that's not always the case - sometimes, the best horse is just the best horse; Afleet Alex comes to mind as a recent example. But then you have your Jazil, Birdstone, and Sarava.
So I believe that the question of who is better between Curlin and Street Sense probably would not have been addressed in the Belmont, and by holding him out, the owner and trainer feel that he'll be better off when the matter is settled for real at Saratoga, Belmont in the fall, and, hopefully, at Monmouth. And just maybe, that will ultimately turn out to be the best thing for the game.
That seems a bit geographically selfish of me, doesn't it? By the way, the deadline draws near for getting totally ripped off for the Breeders Cup. The application (pdf file) needs to be received by June 6 in order for you to qualify for the random drawing. And remember, there's no walk-up cash admission, you need to have a ticket for at least the $50 general admission; or for the seating which starts at $100. Oh, and $25 to get into the Monmouth parking lot ($10 for remote lots), and that's all prepaid too.