The Triple Crown is in the books! Creator nipped Destin by a nose at the wire to win the Belmont Stakes, the third and final jewel of the crown, on Saturday, June 11. Time to move on to Saratoga!
Nobody could have expected this year’s Triple Crown to match last year’s. American Pharoah broke a 37 year Triple Crown drought. It was something that we may never see again the rest of our lives. This year was about good horses going for the Triple Crown. Not a single horse that ran during this year’s Triple Crown will turn out to be as good as American Pharoah. But, there is one horse that I think could end up being a monster. I also write some other predictions for this three-year-old crop.
Most likely to turn into a monster?
Destin – He was on the pace the whole time in the Belmont Stakes, exploded in the stretch, and looked like the winner until the final jump. The thing about Destin is that he’s lightly raced. He should improve dramatically off of the Belmont win. It took jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to make the perfect move aboard Creator to get to Javier Castellano and Destin. Destin has everything going for him to be a force at Saratoga, where Todd Pletcher, no doubt is going to send his horses. I’d be surprised if Destin faces a large field in this year’s Travers just because many of his peers, the horses that have proven themselves to be winners at least, probably aren’t suited to go 1 1/4 miles or 1 1/2 miles again.
Most likely to return to a mile or sprints?
Nyquist – His best race of his career wasn’t the Kentucky Derby. I think it was the 7 furlong San Vicente where Nyquist ran a half in :44.49. He held Exaggerator easily and finished up in 1:20.71. To me, Nyquist’s ability to relax behind horses and turn it on is more conducive to winning mile races and dirt sprints than it is to winning races at 1 1/8 miles or 1 1/4 miles. Doug O’Neil and Paul Reddam campaigned a horse named Goldencents a few years ago who won back-to-back Breeders Cup Miles. Nyquist has the makings of another Goldencents to me.
Most likely to try turf?
Creator – Creator has an excellent turn of foot. But in every race in which he runs on the dirt from here on out his turn of foot is going to depend on trip and pace. That’s not really the case on turf where the horse with the best turn off foot often times wins the race. They may try to run Creator in races like the Travers and Haskell Invitational, but I’m not sure he’ll have the same success that he had in the Arkansas Derby and the Belmont Stakes. A couple of front runners helped him out in the Arkansas Derby. There’s aren’t a lot of dirt races at 1 1/2 miles that he’ll be able to run in.
Creator started out his career on turf due to his breeding. Although he didn’t run well over it, he still showed the turn of foot that has developed into his best weapon. Over dirt, Creator’s turn of foot is a great weapon. Over turf, his turn of foot could be an impossible to beat weapon.
Most likely to take the long vacation?
Exaggerator – I thought that Exaggerrator was tired going into the Belmont Stakes. He still ran a great race only tiring in the stretch. My guess (hope?), is that Keith Desormeaux gives this talented runner the vacation that he needs. First, he’s run 6 times already this year. Second, he’s run, counting the Santa Anita Derby, 4 straight difficult races in a row. He needs some time in order to get stronger, to develop, and to come back better than he was before. I don’t think we’re going to see Exaggerator until the fall.