Let’s just call it like it is. Everything is wild and is going to remain on the weird tip for a long time, even in the sports world. So, it comes as no surprise (because, 2020) that the Belmont Stakes is the first gem of the Triple Crown this year instead of the last, Alvin Kamara is making headlines in the NASCAR world and the biggest college football programs have already been hit by the coronavirus.
OK, that subhead might be a little harsh but I still can’t wrap my head around what happened on Saturday. The Belmont Stakes is the first race in the Triple Crown. Yes, I might write that sentence 10 times. The Belmont Stakes is the OK fine, I’m done.
First, let’s speak on the positive. New York has done an awesome job at taking measures to fight the spread of the virus and running the Belmont Stakes was, in a way, a testament to how well it’s going. Of course, no fans were in the stadium as the race was restricted to essential personnel only, which added a surreal element to the event. In past years, when a Triple Crown hopeful was running, event attendance could swell to 100,000. Even in years without a horse running for a chance at history a crowd of 80,000 wasn’t unheard of. So, to go from a packed house to a ghost town is an odd viewing experience.
It wasn’t just the lack of an audience that made this an odd show. Did I mention it was the first race of the Triple Crown this year? Besides flipping the Mine That Bird to tradition the Belmont Stakes was ran at 1 1/8 miles instead of its usual mile-and-a-half distance. The race is usually called, “The Test of the Champion,” because most horses never ran at this this distance before and, of course, to win the Triple Crown a horse would have to win the two previous gems (Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes) and this race in a span of five weeks. But, now that it’s first and ran at a shorter distance, is just the Quiz of the Champion?
It felt like an easy A for the winner Tiz The Law as he beat an underwhelming field. The only other class in the field was Tap It To Win, who led most of the way and around the final (only) turn. Louisiana horse racing enthusiasts might have noticed a few names like Modernist, who won the Risen Star Stakes and placed third in the Louisiana Derby. Farmington Road also ran at the Fairgrounds. Neither one of them would factor in the Belmont Stakes.
I would write that you’ll never hear from most of these horses again but, who knows? The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby (still shaking my head) won’t run until Sept. 5, which might as well be light years when it comes to the maturation of thoroughbreds. So, maybe a horse like Pneumatic, sired by GMB Racing’s Uncle Mo, is a completely different horse by that time? Point being, the amount of time between the beginning and end of the Triple Crown this year is a major factor. With that said, Tiz The Law, who has now won five of six races, looks like a great one.
Alvin Kamara, The Leader
As the nation continues to remove confederate monuments, NASCAR jumped into the conversation by stating that the confederate flag was banned from being displayed at its events. The move evidently inspired the New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara to attend his first NASCAR race in support of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black race car driver.
Wallace would finish 13th but a bigger race was won as Alvin Kamara showed true leadership in taking a stand no one saw coming and helping shed light on a racist culture in a sport that is predominantly white. Obviously, some folks disagree with the ban as evidenced by minor protests and one driver who no one had ever heard of quitting the NASCAR Truck series (it’s always better to quit before you get fired).
Thank you, Mr. Kamara for being a leader.
Coronavirus Goes To College
The dreams of college football being played in the fall took a major step back with multiple major universities reporting potential outbreaks of the virus. To say we didn’t see this coming would be a lie and this should be a massive wake up call to anyone who believes that the virus is going to just go away or certain groups don’t have to worry about it.
LSU has quarantined 30 players. Twenty three Clemson players have tested positive for the virus. Eight players from the Alabama Crimson Tide have tested positive. Three Auburn Tigers have tested positive. Thirteen players on the Texas Longhorns tested positive. Oklahoma has reported that some of its players have been exposed to the virus. All of these students are healthier than us. Get the picture? Keep practicing social distancing, don’t be too arrogant to wear a mask and wash your hands, folks.
So will there be college football in the fall? I think it’s a long shot at this point. Maybe it will be delayed and luckily get off the ground but I wouldn’t be planning any autumn vacation weekends to root for your home team at this point.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Low Road Brewing’s Pale Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Mavis Staples – “Melody Cool”
Around the Way
A big shout out to Tulane’s Hudson Haskins and UNO’s Eric Orze, who were both selected in the MLB Draft. Haskins went to the Baltimore Orioles in the second round and Orze was picked by the New York Mets in the fifth round. In a year cut short by the virus it’s good to see that dreams still come true.