The Jewel Of The Triple Crown

Today marks the 45th anniversary, to the day, of Secretariat’s 1973 Triple Crown Victory, by 31 lengths no less. His 2:24 is the fastest 1 and a Half miles on dirt ever (well, among Thoroughbred Horses with a rider, in which the modern era stretches back 150 years to the first Belmont Stakes in 1868).

It is why he’s considered by some to be the fastest that lived (Secretariat died in 1989 at 19 years of age, 15 spent at Stud which is not a bad gig if you can get it).

It is also the last of the Horse Races and I can safely ignore them until next year.

This year we have again a chance at a Triple Crown in Justify with which I’m happy since I can erase my old and inferior DVR recordings of American Pharoh and replace them with the new and improved YouTube captures.

They may suck, but you miss all the racist songs.

The Belmont Stakes are perhaps the most democratic of the Triple Crown Races, held in Elmont right next to Queens (yes, you read that correctly. It’s an unincorporated Census designated place with no ‘B’ in it at all). Indications of that are they can’t settle on a song or a drink. The song has ranged from Sidewalks of New York, a charming Tin Pan Alley tune better known as East Side, West Side, to the Theme from New York, New York (as performed by Frank Sinatra and appropriated as the Yankees anthem and not the original Liza Minelli rendition), to 2010’s Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z.

Likewise the drink has changed from the absolutely un-potable White Carnation to the refined trashcan punch that is the Belmont Breeze.

I suggest instead the classic Cosmopolitan.


  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces lemon vodka
  • 1 fluid ounce Cointreau
  • 1 fluid ounce cranberry juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Long thin piece of orange zest


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, and cranberry and lime juices. Cover and shake vigorously to combine and chill. Strain the cosmopolitan into a chilled martini glass. Twist the orange zest over the drink and serve.

Note: The drink can also be stirred in a pitcher.

This year is the 150th running as opposed to 144 for the Derby and 143 for the Preakness. At 1 1/2 miles the Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races. The Belmont track surface is looser, sandier, and harder to run on than most tracks in the country, also the NYRA is much stricter about “performance enhancement” than most racing associations, my stash of Furosemide will get me arrested and ejected.

Winning a Triple Crown is deliberately difficult. The Kentucky Derby at a One and a Quarter could be considered the “standard” distance while the Preakness at 1 and an Eight could be called a “sprinter’s” track. In Hyper-Modern practice any horse that finished out of the money (1st, 2nd, 3rd) at the Derby skips the Preakness for rest and relaxation and specialized “speed” horses are fielded instead to knock out the tired and weary Derby winner.

Should he win the first two legs they bring back their “tanned and ready” distance colts to crush him in the Belmont.

Didn’t work this year. Of course the tracks were as muddy as I’ve ever seen them which is saying a lot (what about 120+ don’t you get?). Today is a beach day in New York and environs.

Neither Joe Drape or Melissa Hoppert have any romance in their hearts. Melissa picks Hofburg, Justify, and Vino Rosso for the exacta while Joe goes with Vino Rosso, Free Drop Billy, and Justify. If Justify is in fact “all that and a bag of chips” you’ll know in about 3 minutes.

Post time on NBC is around 6:30 ET.


  1. And they’re off

  2. So a Triple Crown

  3. Justify

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