Failed delivery

So Big Brown didn’t deliver a Triple Crown today on what has turned out to be an eventful day in sports…

It was good to see some rare common sense from Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown’s jockey.  When it became obvious that there was nothing in the tank, and Big Brown wasn’t going to make the top 4, he eased up on the horse and let him gallop out.  I’d rather see that than another “heroic” disaster like Eight Belles…

At the end of the ABC broadcast, Brent Musberger made a common argument — 3 races in 5 weeks may just be too much for today’s thoroughbreds, which aren’t bred for the size and durability their ancestors were.  He’s right.  It’s time to rethink the Triple Crown.  And not only for the 5-week turnaround — but because Maryland racing is in trouble.  Maryland horseplayers are going where the slots are (West Virginia and Pennsylvania), and the Maryland legislature doesn’t seem to have any interest in putting their tracks on a level playing field.  So there is the chance that the Preakness Stakes won’t have a home in a few years.  Now I’d love to be able to say “hey, move the Preakness to Colonial Downs”, but that isn’t going to happen.  Colonial Downs isn’t built for the 100,000-plus that’d show up for the Preakness.  So let’s think outside the box…

  1. First Saturday in May – Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
  2. First Saturday in June (one week earlier) – Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park
  3. First Saturday in July – Triple Crown Stakes at Del Mar Racecourse

Del Mar would open two weeks earlier than it does now, but the reality is that it may have to anyway, as Hollywood Park will be bulldozed to make room for a shopping center or condominiums in the next few years.  So now it’s 3 races in 8 weeks, still a tight schedule, but more doable, and it brings California’s most historic racetrack into the Triple Crown.  Of course, you can only do this if and when Pimlico closes…

Which brings me to the saddest news of the day.  A man who loved Maryland racing — almost as much as he loved his family and just a bit more than he loved the job that defined him to us — passed away today.  Jim McKay lived a life most of us could only dream of.  I’ve read his memoirs… in his career, he circled the world, called sporting events great and small, and was the calming voice we all heard in September 1972 when the Munich Olympics turned bloody.  But in the end, in his book, McKay made it clear his wife and kids were what mattered.  His contemporary, Keith Jackson, said on ESPN today “he had a hell of a run”.  Yes, he did.  And he will be missed.   He brought a class and dignity to sports that will never been seen again.  The Chris Bermans and Stuart Scotts of the world may do the job Jim McKay did — but they will never walk in his shoes.


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