SHEPHERDSTOWN — This year’s Triple Crown series won’t exactly limp into posterity, but then, none of the four-legged entrees will be mistaken for Secretariat, Justify or even Whirlaway.
When the sun lowers its head in the western sky in Elmont, N.Y. and the 12-furlong marathon Run for the Carnations has been finalized, most of those just waiting for classy Saratoga to show off its racing meet will not be searching the record books for a thoroughbred to compare with the best of all-time.
Rich Strike is back from his stunning stretch run in his eye-opening win in the Kentucky Derby. It was only his second lifetime victory — even though his sire is Keen Ice (winner in the Travers Stakes over the 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah). And Keen Ice is the son of the courtly Curlin, the massive and dominating chestnut champion.
An outsider at 81-1 in the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike is a photogenic chestnut himself. His favoritism with the masses comes from his underdog status and he will have the backing of many casual race fans on Saturday.
His lineage includes sire, Constitution, and grandsires, Hall of Famers Tapit and Tiznow (the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic). We the People is owned by the blue-blood corporate titan WinStar, nestled in Versailles, Ky.
But the best of them haven’t cracked under the seldom-seen conditions. The most overwhelming equine performance in history came from Triple Crown dynamo Secretariat, when he won by 31 lengths in setting a world record for the distance in 1973.
Returning after five weeks to recover from the Kentucky Derby are Mo Donegal and Barber Road. Entered, after trying the Preakness only three weeks ago, will be Creative Minister and happily named Skippylongstocking (who was fifth at Pimlico).
Joining this field will be Nest, a Todd Pletcher-trained entry, whose backers see Rich Strike as a one-hit wonder who can’t repeat his blistering stretch run in winning the hearts of longshot bettors in the Kentucky Derby.
When the last of the Triple Crown races for 2022 is fading from memory, most of the public will look to other sports. Or focus on Saratoga in the tourist-favored shade of slower-paced upstate New York.
Rich Strike might be the answer to a trivia question. Skippylongstocking could do more than make casual fans smile, when hearing his unusual name. And mild speculation could begin, as to which thoroughbreds might be crowding the starting gate in the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
source: Shepherdstown Chronicle