The misfortunes of Mott
Yesterday was the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes. The race, with a purse of $1.5 million, is the final leg of horse racing's famed "Triple Crown." The distance of the race is a demanding one and a half miles. For most American race horses it is the furthest they will ever be asked to go. In the field of ten was a talented 3 year old (the "Triple Crown" is restricted to three year olds btw), by the name of Tacitus. Tacitus, who won the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial in the spring, had trained terrifically leading up to the Belmont and more important, to me, was the fact that he seemed to be a true router who liked the marathon distances. He drew the 10 post position and on Saturday at race time he was bet down to favorite over Preakness winner War of Will. His trainer, Bill Mott even thought the outside post would benefit him.
“We had the 10 hole. I thought that could actually be to our advantage at some point,” Mott said. “I thought the fact that he got a clear trip could be to his advantage. He’s a big, long-striding horse. From out there, he’d be able to have a nice cruising trip down the backside. You don’t want to lose ground, but you don’t want to get stopped with a big horse like that either.”
In the world of sports there are intangible elements that are every bit as important as stone cold statistics. For instance, anyone who follows baseball knows that even the best teams can go into slumps over the course of a long season. Thus, we may find the New York Yankees off on a six game losing streak while losing to inferior teams. I knew someone who bet on such streaks. When a team would win or lose 3 in a row he would hop on board betting the streak until it came to an end, by then he would hope to have a profit. Sometimes racing stables are like baseball teams. All the horses in the barn are fit and ready and well placed in the right races. If you follow the grand game of horse racing, you can see the ups & downs. Bill Mott has been mired in a bit of a cold spell coming into the Belmont Stakes. Over the past few days his horses have had opportunities, yet his stable has shown zero wins lately. So, if one believes in these "intangibles" and liked Tacitus the play was not to play!
Tacitus got caught wide and ran wide most of the mile and a half, bumped with a tiring War of Will in the stretch and just couldn't reach the winner Sir Winston, who benefited from a ground saving trip on the rail. I think it can be argued that in two out of the three Triple Crown races the best horse did not win, but that's racing.