On Saturday, the world of horse racing enjoyed one of its hallmark events, even though it wasn't quite as exciting this time around as it was last year: the Belmont Stakes in Elmont Park, New York, the third leg of racing's Triple Crown series. There's no Triple Crown bid active right now, however, because the previous two legs were won by different horses, with Nyquist winning the Kentucky Derby, and Exaggerator finishing first at the Preakness Stakes. And now, the third race is over, with Creator winning the Belmont Stakes, etching his name into racing's history books.
This time last year, the racing world was abuzz thanks to American Pharoah, a hard-charging colt who rode into the Belmont with the first two legs of the Triple Crown in the bag, vying to become the first full-fledged Triple Crown winner since 1978. And with all that expectation and hoopla surrounding the final race, he came through ― finishing with a time of two minutes, 26:65 seconds, American Pharoah claimed racing's top prize.
No such drama existed this time around, and it wasn't even a rematch between the previous two winners, Exaggerator and Nyquist ― the latter, who won the Kentucky Derby in May, was pulled from the race due to a fever. And not even his chief rival Exaggerator managed to finish in first place, with an unexpected victory by Creator.
For what it's worth, if you feel a little ripped-off that you didn't get to see another horse take a shot at Triple Crown history this time around, you might actually be getting a little spoiled. Although active Triple Crown bids have become relatively routine lately ― there have been seven of them in the past 15 years ― that's not the historical norm, not by a long shot. From 1978 to 2002, only six horses entered the Belmont Stakes having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness beforehand.
In other words, if you're excited or enthralled by horse racing, it's important to appreciate each year, and the horses that win on their own terms, because the kind of historic run American Pharoah put together last year just doesn't happen all that often.
So take a moment to appreciate Creator, the stately steed that scampered across the finish line in first on Saturday afternoon. If you're a full fledged fan of horse racing, you'll no doubt stay engaged throughout the year, but if you're a more casual observer, this could be your last event for quite a while ― the Triple Crown series won't begin again until next year, at the 2017 Kentucky Derby in May.