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Belmont 2012: Andy Beyer's Take on the Difficulty of the Triple Crown

I agree completely with Andy Beyer here. It is true that the major dynastic racing families are pretty much gone. Yes, you still have the Sheikhs and you have the occasional person like Ken Ramses. But there is no Sam Riddle.

I've been working on a piece for months now trying to figure out how to put it all together and theorize how to breed distance back into the thoroughbred. But the fact that I keep coming back to is that the Graded Stakes Program is broken. The Jockey Club, in an honest and well intentioned effort to promote all of the different divisions, has in fact provided incentives to have more younger sprinters and fewer older routers. Does anyone think that the Belmont (even with its outlier distance of 12f) is of the same importance as the 6.5f Vosburgh Invitational? According to the Graded Stakes ratings, they're EXACTLY equal. So why breed for the Belmont (or the classic distances) when that is hard and time consuming when you can breed for 2yo and 3yo sprint stakes, which is comparatively easy. And if the Jockey Club is going to reward you for that, then why not.

I say we revamp the graded stakes program and only give a Grade 1 rating to any race of a mile or more. That would fix a number of the problems and would encourage breeders to aim to breed routers and not sprinter. And while I love sprinters, 5.5f just doesn't carry the same weight as a winner at 10 furlongs to me.

Sorry for the rant this morning, just waiting excitedly for Saturday.