x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The Triple Crown chance is a things of the past

On May's first Saturday, Triple crown hope is renewed at the Kentucky Derby. It is dashed two weeks hence at the Preakness States.

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 08: Belmont entrant Union Rags is guided off the track during morning workouts in preparation for the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2012 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 08: Belmont entrant Union Rags is guided off the track during morning workouts in preparation for the 144th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2012 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

We prepare our goodbyes to another season of the Triple Crown in American horse racing, which hits the finish line with the Belmont Stakes.

A few of us will add: "Good riddance."

For the 35th year, a variation of this sentence will be wedged into every report: "No horse since Affirmed in 1978 has swept the three races to win the Crown." What once occurred sporadically - 11 champions since the breakthrough in 1919 - now is approaching Halley's Comet frequency.

On May's first Saturday, hope is renewed at the Kentucky Derby. It is dashed two weeks hence at the Preakness States, where this year, the heretofore brilliant Orb threw a clunker, or five weeks later at the Belmont.

Some aficionados are clamouring for systematic tweaks, primarily spacing the races farther apart to afford contestants more recovery time. Other proposals would alter the distances to make them progressively longer, or to re-establish a points format that would encourage connections to run all three.

None has a chance, at least short-term. Those who hold authority lean toward hide-bound traditionalist, unwilling to modernize as more hierarchical US sports have done.

They claim, with some justification, that the infrequency of a Triple Crown feat maintains its status as an achievement of the highest order. But they must acknowledge that a sport desperate for a shot in the arm, which a sweep would provide, absorbs another cumulative blow to the head each time it does not happen.

sports@thenational.ae