After watching the Belmont this past Saturday all I could think about was an old friend of mine named Justin Threegood, who I knew growing up back in Steubenville.
Justin always seemed to have three girlfriends, but in his third year of college had to drop out. One of his lovelies was with child and they got married, but it only lasted a short time. She caught him cheating.
Justin married and had a child with the second girl, but that didn’t last. She caught him with another woman who he married that year and had a cool little kid with.
That only lasted a short time. The last time I saw Threegood he was working three jobs to pay child support to his three wives for his three kids and getting ready to do his third bankruptcy.
Now you ask me how did the Belmont bring me to Justin? Well, let’s just look what happened to the Triple Crown.
At the Kentucky Derby, the next wonder horse, Orb, was invented by the media in hopes of a miracle that didn’t happen. They loved the connections as did I with Hall of Fame trainer and all around good guy Claude (Shug) McGaughey.
Shug got his Derby win for legendary owners and breeders Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney. All was good as this new super horse was training like the real deal and the hype was on, not only with the horse, owners and trainer but also jockey Joel Rosario.
The new super jockey seemed like he could do nothing wrong on the East or West Coast. Joel was like the energizer bunny – he kept going and going, track after track, whether it was Gulfstream Park, Dubai, Keeneland or Churchill Downs. The stage was set for the movie.
Two weeks go by and we head into the Preakness. The love story continued as the betting public, after reading all the hype on the new super horse Orb, made him a laughable 70 cents on the dollar. Orb never got into the race and was a distant fourth.
Now they now were out of love, blaming the track, ride and other things. But all was not lost as the winner, Oxbow, got a brilliant ride by Gary “the comeback kid” Stevens, who at 50 still knows pace makes the race. Gary stole it at 15-1 right out from under them.
Now the new love story began as trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Stevens, both Hall of Famers, were on top of the heap. The hype was on for the rematch or, as the media was calling it, “the rubber match.”
This was a baseball game or a two-horse race.
The Belmont: Three weeks pass and now the rains were coming. No one seemed to know what to do, but the rubber match would settle things. There were some new shooters in this 1-1/2 mile race that were gaining support, especially if the track came up sloppy.
The track crew did a great job and conditions were perfect. The betting public read all the stories on how good Orb was working and the great Shug had him ready to roll, so they sent him off as the 2-1 chalk. I wasn’t sold.
I wasn’t sold and went looking for a price play and came up with Overanalyze the Todd Pletcher colt who took the Preakness off and he had Hall of Fame jockey J R Velazquez riding. Overanalyze ran seventh in the 14-horse Belmont field.
The winner was Palace Malice. The boys and girls at Palace Station were very happy, especially Patty, who had the exacta, plus my boss Bob Mann loved this colt. His gut told him to unload and he did.
I listened a little and used him in the pick four but was really disappointed on how my horse ran. Palace Malice paid a real nice $29.60, getting his second lifetime win. The Pletcher-trained horse was ridden by the Sunshine Kid – Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
So we had three races, three different horses win, three different jockeys win and three different trainers win, all three trainers from the East Coast, all three horses from the East Coast and the amazing thing is that all three jockeys were West Coast boys.
So what ever happened to my friend Threegood? The last time I was back to the “ville” he heard I was there and gave me a call. Told me he had a dream and needed a ride to Mountaineer. He wanted to make a bet, but had no car.
In the dream, there was a horse running in the third race, the No. 3 post by the name of Threeslews. Justin tapped out and Threeslews finished third. On the way back he told me about just getting out of prison after serving three years and was now on three years probation.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].