Every few years, when a talented three-year-old wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown, foks start writing about the potential impact of a Triple Crown winner. Sport’s Illustrated’s Tim Layden is as good at it as anybody, and here is his piece from last week’s magazine:
A Matter Of Horse Sense: In galloping toward a possible Triple Crown, I'll Have Another shouldn't be expected to carry all the burdens of a troubled sport - By Tim Laden.
It's not enough that late on the afternoon of Saturday, June 9, at Belmont Park in New York, a powerful and determined chestnut colt named I'll Have Another can become the first thoroughbred in 34 years to win racing's Triple Crown, thus achieving one of the rarest feats in any sport. Apparently he must also save the enterprise of horse racing itself, restoring it to a place in American culture that it hasn't occupied in many decades and rescuing it from a morass of ethical and financial problems that threaten it with extinction. It's a lot to ask of a creature, however majestic, who spends 23 hours a day in a stall and eats his food from a plastic tub, but that's the working story line.
This happens every spring, and with increasing fervor, when a horse wins the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, thereby reaching the cusp of history. I'll Have Another is the 12th such horse since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978 (the third of the '70s, after Secretariat in '73 and Seattle Slew in '77). And on each occasion, as May turns into June and the Belmont draws closer, the whispers grow louder and more urgent: Racing needs a Triple Crown winner. As if in the weeks after I'll Have Another flashes beneath the finish wire at Belmont, fans will be climbing on steam trains to follow the Big Horse on a barnstorming tour across America and television networks will be clearing aside NFL programming to broadcast stakes races. It's wildly wishful thinking that ignores the grim realities of the present and, worse, cheapens the significance and wonder of what I'll Have Another might accomplish by insisting that it become something more.
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