Five years ago, 2006, seems like a lifetime ago. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby. Bernardini walloped a bunch of nancies in the Preakness. The Derby winner and the Preakness winner were conspicuously absent from the Belmont Stakes.
Let's watch it and see just how crappy a race it was. Here's your refresher:
I have to admit, Bluegrass Cat was pretty impressive in this race, but still. This was worse than a Giants-Angels World Series. This is like RC Cola vs. Mr. Pibb.
Jazil may very well be the most forgettable horse of the past five years and hence 15 Triple Crown races.
Let's take a look:
2006: Barbaro, Bernardini, Jazil
2007: Street Sense, Curlin, Rags to Riches
2008: Big Brown, Da'Tara
2009: Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird
2010: Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, Drosselmeyer
Take a look at that list and try not to get depressed when you read Jazil or Da'Tara. Da'Tara's claim to fame might be "slugging" it out with Rachel Alexandra in the 2009 Woodward Stakes on the front end. Looking at this list, Super Saver too, seems awfully forgetable. To Jazil's credit, he did dead heat for fourth in the Derby, so he was a pretty nice horse, I suppose. But you know how there are horses that excite you and ones that just fill up the entry box? Jazil may be the Big Fundamental, the Tim Duncan, shows up, does a remarkable, unnoticeable, forgetably good job so that we may then focus on the dunk contest.
This year's Belmont nearly had that Jazil potential, to be that forgetable kind of race that turns a jewel into a mood stone.
Thankfully Animal Kingdom and Shackleford entered the Belmont and have rallied after two grueling races. Master of Hounds and and Nehro are Preakness skippers that are a lock to hit the board.
Naturally we will be delighted with this race and NYRA will be spared the apathy of 2006.