By Alfred G. Vanderbilt, courtesy of NYTimes.com
These are the delicious days, the days of debate and doubt as we wait for the Belmont Stakes, the toughest race to win in the United States and the last leg of the Triple Crown. There is no better time to be a horse racing fan.
Now the questions begin. How many horses will have enough sand to face Big Brown’s power and the Belmont’s grueling distance? Optimists are what stuff the gate in the Derby. The Preakness is for those still clinging to hope. The beautiful racetrack on Long Island is a place for cynics and realists. Cynics assume Big Brown can’t be as good as he looks. Realists believe they’ve got a shot at taking second-, third- or fourth-place money.
The Belmont is a mile and a half in front of everybody who matters, and as the horses come through the tunnel and step onto the track, the roar of the crowd can knock off your glasses, cap and shoes. It’s not the sound of tourists from the Midwest calling out the names of their favorites. It’s the Animal, the Apple, whose voice is like the lion.