Another spring season of racing is wrapping up and that means another Triple Crown quest is about to end – in triumph or heart break.  The last 37 years…it has ended in disappointment.  Every late June we turn our eyes to the next crop and start hoping.

This challenge…the Triple Crown…has gotten harder over the years.  This is not because of fresh horses coming in and stealing the Belmont.  This is not because there have not been great horses come along that couldn’t have done it under different circumstances (Spectacular Bid, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Smarty Jones, Big Brown, I’ll Have Another or California Chrome).   It’s not because of doping horses or a more fragile breed.   It’s the foal crop size that has caused the problem.  The more foals per year there are, the greater chance of there being more than one superior horse.  It’s a simple matter of numbers.

N.A. Foal crops for the last 4 Triple Crown winners are below. 
Affirmed – 28,271
Seattle Slew – 27,586
Secretariat – 24,361
Citation – 5,819

Near Loss Triple Crown Tries since 1978 Foal Crops in N.A.
Spectacular Bid – 28,809
Sunday Silence – 51,296
Silver Charm – 35,341
Real Quiet – 34,983
Smarty Jones – 37,901
Big Brown – 38,365
I’ll Have Another – 32,357
California Chrome – 24,895
American Pharoah – 23,500

California Chrome had the first foal crop that was under the number of the top foal crop for a Triple Crown winner (which was Affirmed).  It is not a surprise that we had a 2/3 last year.  It is not a surprise that we already have 2/3 this year with another drop in foal crop numbers.  The next few years are looking good too with the crop dropping even closer to 20,000.  If there is going to be Triple Crown winner ever again…these next couple of years are going to be the best shot.

All that being said, I do think that American Pharoah might just be head and shoulders above the rest of this crop (even if I’m not sure about the quality of the crop historically yet).  There’s a good chance that he will win the Belmont on Saturday and bring the first Crown in many people’s lifetimes.  This is always something to cheer for.

The field for Saturday stands as follows:

American Pharoah
Keen Ice
Tale of Verve

Of the horses entered, the only ones I find a threat to American Pharoah are Materiality, Keen Ice and Frosted.  Each horse has the breeding to be standing at the end of the mile and a half.  Materiality has the right running style and is quick.  Frosted is training very well and is also quick, however unless they keep him closer than they have in his last couple races…he has no chance to catch AP.  Keen Ice is coming in a bit under the radar but reminds me of some other past winners that were not well thought of pre-race.  I think he has a good shot of making some noise.

The others don’t have much chance.  I think Mubtaahij doesn’t have what it takes to run and win on dirt in the USA.  I think Tale of Verve was a bit of a fluke in the Preakness and will bounce a bit off that effort in this race (I also didn’t like how he was staggering home in his runner up effort last time).  Madefromlucky has been trounced by American Pharoah before in such a convincing way, that I’m doubtful he will have stepped up quite that much.  Frammento is a bit of a “why on earth are they entering him” horse.  I’ll be surprised if he hits the board.

No matter the outcome Saturday, have fun and enjoy the ride.  May all the horses cross the wire sound and healthy.  No matter if you’re a fan of AP or one of the others, we can all cheer for a possible Triple Crown winner.  Win or lose on Saturday, the moment the race is over…we’ll all look towards the foal crop of 2013.