Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Spring - Summer 2008


Mike Resnick on the Triple Crown

After the tragedy of the Kentucky Derby and the perplexity of the Belmont Stakes, I asked Mike Resnick, horse-racing aficionado, for his reaction. He replied,


Eight Belles just took a bad step. It happens. This was unusual in that I can't remember a horse breaking both ankles. Clearly they had to put her down. A horse can stand on 3 legs while recovering from surgery on a 4th, but not on two. She ran a nice race; I had her pegged for 3rd, not that she was outstanding – she definitely wasn't – but that there were only two good horses in the race: Big Brown, an emerging superstar who may be the next great one, and Colonel John, who got caught in traffic, which happens (a lot) in the Derby.

The story of Derby Saturday isn't the filly. Like I say, these things happen. It's a horse who went against history – he had only three lifetime starts (hasn't been done since 1915), and he won from post #20 (hasn't been done since 1929). He has yet to win by less than 4 1/2 lengths, or to look like he couldn't have doubled each winning margin if his jockey had asked him to.

A month later, Mike added:

  1. There is clearly something wrong with Big Brown in the Belmont. He was rank and fighting his jockey for the first 3/8 of a mile, and even after he was in position – third on the outside, in perfect striking distance -- you could see that the first two jockeys had more of a hold on their horses than Desormeoux did on Big Brown, which was an indication that the horse wasn't 100%. And when Desormeoux tried to put him in gear on the far turn, there was no response – and this wasn't Curlin he was facing; these were sub-par 3-year-olds who finished the race in sub-par time. To give you an indication, had Big Brown run the Belmont at the same pace At the same pace he'd won the Derby and the Preakness, he would have finished 22 lengths ahead of the winner. That is the mark of a horse who's not right.

  2. Desormeoux did the right thing, easing him at the head of the stretch. The horse had just changed hands for $50 million three weeks ago. You don't abuse a $50 million horse who is clearly not himself just to finish 7th instead of 9th.

  3. As I write this, the day after the Belmont, they still don't know what's wrong with the horse. His feet checked out fine. His legs checked out fine. His heart checked out fine. I thought they'd probably find some blood in his lungs, but when they scoped him his lungs checked out fine. I also thought he probably got kicked when he was in tight quarters going into the clubhouse turn, but there were no marks of abrasions on him. That doesn't mean the horse is fine; just that whatever was bothering him hasn't been found yet.

  4. I thought if he won the Belmont he'd probably retire, an undefeated Triple Crown winner. Now those guys who shelled out the $50 million are faced with a decision: retire him as a horse who got hot for a few weeks and never beat a quality animal – or wait for the Breeders Cup Classic in the late autumn and go up against Curlin, a demonstrably great horse who has easily beaten the world's best in a pair of $5 million races, here and in Dubai, in his last two starts.



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