Another Belmont Stakes is in the books and we saw a huge upset with Ruler On Ice easily beating the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. Was it a total surprise that we saw an upset?
In a word...NO.
This has been an unpredictable Triple Crown as each race saw a surprise but this was the biggest of all them. Most of the fans seemed convinced that one of the horses for the Kentucky Derby would be able to pull out a win on Saturday but the best finish was Brilliant Speed, 3rd.
Plus with the bad weather and sloppy track, it was a perfect storm for an upset.
Right from the start, trouble was brewing as Animal Kingdom, the Derby winner, got into trouble as Mucho Macho Man bumped him a few steps from the starting gate and dropped back to last. Ruler On Ice was tracking Shackleford in second for most of the way and once the Preakness winner began to fade at the top of the stretch, he was home free. The only horse he had to fend off was another longshot, Stay Thirsty.
"At the half-mile pole, I was hearing whips cracking behind me and I could hear guys chirping to their horses, and all I'm doing is picking up the tempo," said Ruler On Ice's jockey Jose Valdivia. "With a half-mile remaining, I still felt like I have a lot of horse under me."
Now, as we head into the summer and start looking ahead towards the Breeders' Cup, who is the best 3-year-old in the country? More than likely the Animal Kingdom and Shackleford will battle for those honors but they may not meet again until the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
Animal Kingdom's owner, Barry Irwin, indicated he might start the horse back on the Turf which could mean he'll bypass the Haskell and/or Travers.
Shackleford's plans are not known but it is a safe bet, if he comes out of the Belmont in good shape, that he will run in one of the big 3-year-old races left this year.
So with another upset in the book, it completes another disappointing Triple Crown series as we are 33 years without someone sweeping the three races. But the Breeders' Cup awaits and hopefully all the best 3-year-old will reunite to decide who is the best sophomore in the country.