Belmont Stakes has returned, closing out a tumultuous and dramatic Triple Crown season that many will want to put in the rearview mirror.
Brad Cox’s Essential Quality opened up as the 2-1 favorite for the 153rd Belmont Stakes ahead of Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer. Essential Quality, the post-time favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, ran a disappointing fourth for all chalk players.
The race is often referred to as the “Test of the Champion” given that it is the longest of the three Triple Crown races at one and one-half miles. If it's anything like the previous legs of the series, fans are in for a treat.
First, Bob Baffert's Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby. But the horse tested positive for the steroid betamethasone afterward, throwing the world of horse racing into turmoil. In a statement released by Baffert, he alleged that Medina Spirit's positive drug test could be explained by an ointment used to treat dermatitis on the racehorse.
Baffert's three horses were given three rounds of blood sample testing as a condition for competing in this year's Preakness Stakes, and all three were cleared to compete.
Then came the Preakness Stakes where Rombauer trotted away victorious after finishing just ahead of Midnight Bourbon at Pimlico Race Course. The win ended Medina Spirit's Triple Crown bid.
However, two days later, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) has suspended Baffert, barring his horses from the Belmont Stakes as well as any event at Belmont Park or Saratoga Race Course this summer.
The NYRA said in a statement that the suspension is simply not a reaction to Medina Spirit testing positive for betamethasone earlier this month. Rather, the decision takes "into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California and Arkansas."
How to Watch:
- Race Time: 6:47 p.m. ET.
- TV Channel: NBCSN (3-5 p.m. ET); NBC (5-7 p.m. ET)
- Live stream: NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app
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