The following is a teaser for Horse Race Insider's Carryover 2.0 column for Friday June 8, 2012.
By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara
I wonder what is better: the foreplay of a potential Triple Crown bid,
or the actual thing. Having never experienced the actual thing, in the
context of this conversation, of course, I wonder what’s best. In most
cases, I’d side with the former because the latter will be a short-lived
climax. Within a month things will go back to normal. The wheel in the
sky keeps on turning (Tobasco Cat, get goin’!). There’s something
special this time around and has little do with I’ll Have Another
himself. We’ve been without a Triple Crown winner not for 34 years, but
ten, and ten is far too long.
Seattle Slew, the last living Triple Crown winner, died on May 8, 2002,
oddly enough 25 years to the day of his winning the Kentucky Derby.
We’ve been without one of the 11 icons for ten long years, no living
testament to the 11 biggest freaks the sport will ever see. Freaks is
the right word and a sober Kent Desormeaux once told the New York Times
after easing up Big Brown four years ago, “I was talking in the jockey
room, and I can’t fathom what kind of freaks those 11 Triple Crown
Seattle Slew died at the beginning of a spree of Triple Crown threats:
War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones. Could it be the Curse of the
From 1973 to 2002, a span of 29 years, horse racing had a
living Triple Crown winner. Secretariat died in 1989 and Affirmed in
Baseball parades around its “Best Player Alive” and gives fans a sense
of lore. In my memory it was Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Willie
Mays. In baseball’s case there will always be a best player alive no
matter the era. Horse racing’s equivalent is the Triple Crown winner.