By Arnie Leshin
Piece by piece, they are now reinstalling the Triple Crown of Horse Racing.
The Kentucky Derby was set to go off on May 2, the usual first Saturday in May. ThePreakness Stakes was to follow two weeks later on Saturday, May 16. Then there was the Belmont Stakes always penciled in for Saturday, June 6.
There’s always hope for a Triple Crown winner, a sweep of the three, but now they are just hoping to send all three to the post after Churchill Downs in Louisville andPimlico Race Course in Baltimore were both postponed. The Run for the Roses, the oldest, most prestigious and most traditional, has been rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, the Preakness to follow on Saturday, Aug. 22, the Belmont for probably Saturday. Sept. 12, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Nothing wrong with any of these race tracks, it’s just the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirius) pandemic that has been doing a number on sports around the globe. Postponements, cancellations, have been forced, and professional sports teams in the United States; baseball, football, soccer, basketball, have been hit the most. They all hope to play in 2020, but the threat of this new and mysterious virus carries weight and a load of restrictions.
NACAR did run Saturday before an empty stadium at Darlington, North Carolina, and will run again this Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina before no fans in the stands and a limited amount of face wearing car supporters on the infield. Again, no media, no interviews, no spectators.
But the horses have yet to take to the track. There have no list of eligible horses for the Kentucky Derby, and the next two will follow after the final results at Churchill Downs are recorded. Regardless, whoever wins the first one gets a head start on the Triple Crown. Hopefully, there will be spectators at each one, with the only other way to catch the running’s will be via television and radio.
Presently, the horses are making preparations at whatever track they call home, and this includes Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont. Except for them, all others must wear face masks, gloves, and obey all the other restriction orders. No media allowed, no fans allowed, but at least the jockeys, trainers and owners will be ruined in to the prospects of their horses, who will be raced, fed and bathed.
While a vast majority of North American thoroughbred tracks remain dark, Churchill Downs and California’s Santa Anita Park are set to resume racing without fans and others are set to follow in what could be a lifetime for owners and trainers with smaller barns who have been suffering without steady income. Most of those who have been derailed by the virus probably can’t afford this anymore.
Other owners and trainers and riders hanging in there need to get back to work, make a living. Hopefully, they will soon be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but presently it would be nice just to hear (1) the calling of the horses to the posts, (2) the horses are in the post, (3) they’re off, (4), they are now into the stretch, and (5) the winner is … .