EDITOR'S NOTE: A former Sullivan and Charleston resident, Jerry Ginther writes a column the first Tuesday of each month in the JG-TC with his remembrances of years gone by in Charleston, Sullivan and the area.

“Aw shucks,” it ain’t happenin’ again this year! With Always Dreaming losing the Preakness Stakes to Cloud Computing, there remains no more anticipation for a Triple Crown winner this year. Nevertheless, The Belmont Stakes will take place as scheduled on June 10th this year and the winner will be just as happy and rich. As usual the purse for this contest is $1.5 million.

I can’t say that I thought the Derby winner would be a sure thing in the Preakness, but I never expected him to lose so badly. The second place finisher, Classic Empire, passed Always Dreaming in the far turn and the Derby winner had nothing left in the tank when they turned for home, finally slipping back to finish eighth at the wire. In the stretch, it was a duel between Classic Empire and Cloud Computing with the latter pulling off the upset by a head with jockey Javier Castellano aboard. Even if I had known more about the contenders in this race, which were not in the Derby, I would have expected a better showing by Always Dreaming.

Now, we are looking forward to the final race in the competition for the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing, the oldest and longest of the three contests. The Belmont Stakes, first run in 1867, is a grueling 1.5 miles distance for 3-year-olds of either sex. The 2017 contest will be the 149th running of this famous race, which predates both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Like the first two jewels of the famous Triple Crown, this race also offers a special drink of the day, “The Belmont Jewel.” And like the first two races, this race also provides the winner with an arrangement of flowers. However, this arrangement, called a blanket, not a garland, contains 700 white carnations imported from Columbia and weighs 40 pounds.

I did some research on the winner’s trophy as well. The trophy presented to the winner of this race is the August Belmont Trophy, but the presentation is for ceremonial purposes only. That is to say that the winner is not allowed to take physical possession of it. Some accounts say that the owner of the winning horse used to be allowed to keep the trophy for one year; others say that is no longer allowed. The trophy itself is a 27-inch high bowl made of 350 ounces of sterling silver. (This measurement may include the cover and the base as there are conflicting measurements.) An inscribed silver plate is presented to the owner of the winning horse to keep. August Belmont, Jr commissioned Tiffany and Co. in 1896 to create the trophy in memory of his late father, August Belmont. The trophy has been awarded each year since 1926.

There is a down side, however, to not having a Triple Crown contender running in the Belmont this year. This fact could keep attendance lower and make tickets less valuable. Also, there seems to be some indecision as to whether Cloud Computing and Always Dreaming will even run in this race. There has been some discussion about not racing either in the Belmont, and letting these two horses rest due to the short interval between races. In the case of Always Dreaming, it was considered that the short period between the Derby and the Preakness could have been responsible for his poor showing in the latter. The above possibilities could make the race less interesting for some I suppose, but I’ll be watching the TV coverage.

Jerry Ginther grew up in Sullivan, with a few brief departures over the years. He served two years in the U.S. Army, 1966-68, and was employed by the Illinois Central Railroad as a telegraph operator and train dispatcher for nearly 25 years. He and his wife reside in Texas. You may contact him at JG@jerryginther.com

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