The Belmont Stakes has changed its date effectively making the last leg on the Triple Crown the first leg. SI senior writer Pat Forde shares why this, "great affront to tradition," will be good for the sport going forward with the rest of 2020.
The 2020 Triple Crown has been set. It's been restructured and it's a major change. On Tuesday, the Belmont Stakes declared its date that they plan to run will be June 20th. And so the last shall be first. The third leg of the Triple Crown will be the first leg this year, with the Kentucky Derby going on September 5th and the Preakness going on October 3rd. It's a great affront to tradition. And I like it. I like the setup. I think this is the best horse racing could do out of a bad situation and it could be a really good Triple Crown.
For one thing, there's greater space, much greater, between the races. Which I think is better for the horses and better for chances of having full competitive fields in all three races. Horses no longer want to run every couple of weeks. It's more like six to eight weeks between starts. So this should help them in that respect.
Secondly, they're going to be more mature older horses, so they should be better - they should be more seasoned, they should be less fragile and hopefully more healthy. All things considered, the way this was going just to even have a Triple Crown is a positive.
I don't like the fact that the Belmont shortened up its distance from a mile and a half to a mile an eighth. But that does at least keep intact the tradition of having different distances for all three events. And look, is the best horse racing could do. And I think that they're going to have a very compelling series of races and the sport that is really kind of lost its way and a lot of ways could come out of this pandemic in better shape than it went in.