Digger’s entry in the Belmont Stakes was just about as welcome as a nail infection; the entry of the over matched colt says a lot about what is wrong with racing in general and the Triple Crown in particular, the absence of sportsmanship by Street Sense’s owners and a misplaced sense of sportsmanship that borders on abuse by the owners of Digger is an infection that is damaging the sport.
Street Sense’s owner has every right to do as he likes, everybody knows racing is an expensive game and only a lucky few hit pay dirt. When Darley comes calling it’s hard for any rational person to turn them down. But the problem now is that commercial breeding concerns now drive all major decisions in racing, to the obvious detriment of the sport. This has not always been the case, after Secretariat was syndicated at the end of his two-year old season in 1972, the great colt won the Triple Crown but also managed to lose three races that year (the Wood Memorial, Whitney and Woodward). Would a breeding syndicate be willing to take a chance like that now? The answer is obvious, they would not. Is Street Sense as good as Secretariat, obviously not, but what’s missing now is a lack of sportsmanship on behalf of both the breeding and racing connections. Secretariat’s connections took on all comers and mistakes were made but in the final analysis the horse proved his greatness. No one these days has the patience to lose or the patience to wait for a horse to truly prove his greatness.