2008 Belmont Stakes

The last horse to win a Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) was Affirmed in 1978. It’d been 30 years, and just about everyone (myself included) was convinced that Big Brown was going to be the one to do it, especially after his spectacular performances in the Derby & the Preakness.
I flew up to New York on Friday night to watch (what I thought would be) history in the making. Pat came over and we hung out for a bit, then I called it a night early so that mom and I could get to Belmont by 8:30am to claim our spots on the rail at the finish wire, just as we do every year.
Got there at 8:30am, found the perfect spot (about four galloping strides back from the finish wire and directly across from the starting gate) and sat down in preparation for what would be a very long day. By about 11:00am it was starting to get disgustingly hot, so we started with the sunblock (and water and snacks, which we had brought… it’s like tailgating for a horse race). By noon, it was unbearable. One of the hottest days I can ever remember- I didn’t know it
was possible to sweat that much. Gross! And we didn’t have any shade nor were we willing to get up and lose our seats, so we suffered. One horse actually collapsed right on the track from heat exhaustion after a race. They cooled him down by pouring buckets of ice water on him and he was okay, but still… crazy.
Alyssa and Kyle showed up around 4pm and thankfully we were able to hold off enough space for them to join us. Anyone who has ever been to the Belmont knows that if you don’t get there at the buttcrack of dawn, you will lose all hope of getting a spot remotely close to the rail.
So about 6:25pm and it’s time for the 11th race, the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes. Big Brown broke decently right in front of us and we were so excited. Somewhere along the backstretch he dropped back into third but we still had confidence he could do it. Coming into the far turn at the top of the home stretch he dropped back and off the board completely. What the hell was going on? Then we saw his jockey, Kent Desormeaux pulling him up and intentionally stopping him. WTF?! Alyssa and mom and I immediately freaked out, thinking Big Brown was hurt… He eventually came trotting past us to cross the wire, straining against Kent’s attempt to stop him.
We’ll never know what happened. It wasn’t his hoof, it wasn’t the heat, it wasn’t the steroids… it was just racing.
It was definit
ely disappointing and heartbreaking, but this is why winning the Triple Crown is so incredible – it’s incredibly difficult.

Kyle, Alyssa, mom & Me at the 2008 Belmont Stakes as Big Brown crosses the finish wire in last place.
You can totally see how we are all going “WTF?!?!”, along with a crowd of 120,000 others. EPIC FAIL.

Congratulations to Da’ Tara who was like “Hey Big Brown- I’m in your Belmont, stealin’ your Triple Crown!”
After a long day at the track (12 hours, to be exact) I came back and showered and went out with Maty to see Paul and Jay. I hadn’t seen Maty or Jay in about 6 years and it was definitely 6 years too long. I love my boys. Long Island Street Punx (re)unite!! 😉
Oh, also, from the random-stuff-happens-to-me-all-the-time and the I-know-everyone-everywhere files, a fun story:
As I was leaving Atlanta to go to New York, i handed my boarding pass to the TSA agent at the security metal detector. She took one look at me and was like “OMG I know you!” Personally, I was a little freaked that the security agent “knew” me, but, whatever. Then she grabbed my ID and checked my name and exclaimed “We had art together in high school!” Turns out we went to high school together up in NY (
haven’t seen each other in 6+ years) and she lives in Atlanta now. Small world huh?

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