Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Animal Kingdom 12th Triple Crown Winner?

Animal Kingdom is the only horse in the world with a chance to win the Triple Crown.  We all know that we haven’t had a Triple Crown winner since 1978 and Affirmed. Now that the 137th Kentucky Derby is in the books the question on everyone’s lips is: could this be the year?  It very well could be.  Should he complete it, I don’t know if it will speak to the ultimate greatness of Animal Kingdom or the relative mediocrity of this year’s crop of three year olds - and I’m not really sure if that matters. 
The ability of the modern day Thoroughbred to tackle three of the most competitive races in North America over a five week period has been called in question – increasingly so as the quest for a Triple Crown winner goes unfulfilled year after year.  These colts are asked to go further and run faster than they ever have before over three different tracks in three states.  It’s become a feat in and of itself just to be able to be competitive in all three races never mind win them all.  Any colt that can complete this Crown is special regardless of the competition. Period.
In years past, a dominating Derby performance would scare all but the hardiest competitors away from the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico two weeks later.  Animal Kingdome apparently scared no one. A full field of fourteen is expected in the starting gate on May 21.  While most Derby competitors will not make the trip to Baltimore, several well regarded challengers not in the Derby field will try and derail Animal Kingdom’s gallop toward immortality. 
For now it’s entertaining to listen to the experts hammer away at Animal Kingdom’s supposed inferiority over past champions and lament the mediocrity of this crop of three year olds.  Perhaps both are the case, but you can only dance to the songs that are played – the rest you have no control over.  I guarantee that ten years from now, should he be able to capture history, no one will remember the weak crop or the injuries that sidelined contenders, only that Animal Kingdom was the 12th winner of the Triple Crown.

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