NEW YORK (AP) - Drosselmeyer finally got a shot in a Triple
Crown race and it paid off with an upset in the $1 million Belmont
Left out of the Kentucky Derby because he hadn't earned enough
money to qualify, Drosselmeyer staged a stirring stretch run and
beat Fly Down by three-quarters of a length Saturday in the final
leg of the Triple Crown.
With neither Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver nor Preakness
winner Lookin At Lucky in the field, the 1½-mile Belmont looked to
be a matchup of classic runner-ups - Ice Box from the Derby vs.
First Dude from the Preakness.
First Dude took the lead from the start, but couldn't hold off
Drosselmeyer in the stretch and finished third. Ice Box, the 9-5
favorite trained by Nick Zito, was never in contention and finished
ninth in the 12-horse field. Fly Down, also trained by Zito, was
the second choice at 5-1.
The victory not only reaffirmed Drosselmeyer's talent after
failing to win in his past three starts, it also produced a few
firsts for a pair of Hall of Famers.
Jockey Mike Smith ended his 0 for 12 record in the Belmont, and
trainer Bill Mott won his first Triple Crown race.
"It all came together," said Mott, best known as the trainer
of the great Cigar in 1995-96. "I think it was just a matter of
time with some of the good horses I get to train that it was going
One reason it happened may be a jockey switch to Smith from Kent
"I felt like the horse needed a little change in routine,"
said WinStar Farm racing manager Elliott Walden. "We went to Mike
because we felt he would get him in a rhythm and keep him running.
This horse really kicked hard turning for home and finished
WinStar seems to making all the right calls these days, and
closed out the Triple Crown with wins in two races - they also own
Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. Super Saver and Preakness winner
Lookin At Lucky did not run in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
On a hot, sunny Saturday in front of 45,243 at Belmont Park,
Drosselmeyer was sent off at odds of 13-1. It was Smith who made a
key decision to keep his long-striding colt in the clear. He eased
the gleaming chestnut to the outside for the run down the
backstretch, always keeping First Dude within range.
Drosselmeyer made a four wide move on the final turn and
continued widest of all, eventually reeling in First Dude and then
holding off a late charge from Fly Down.
Drosselmeyer, a 3-year-old colt owned by WinStar Farm, won in
2:31.57. The son of Distorted Humor also gave Smith his first
Belmont win in his 13th try.
Drosselmeyer had been an underachiever all year in finishing
fourth, third and second in his last three starts. But in his first
try at a Triple Crown race, and with Smith aboard for the first
time, the colt turned on the speed to pull off the victory.
Game on Dude was fourth, followed by Uptowncharlybrown, Stay
Put, Interactif, Stately Victor, Ice Box, Make Music for Me, Dave
In Dixie and Spangled Star.
Drosselmeyer returned $28, $11.60 and $7.70. Fly Down, with John
Velazquez aboard, paid $6.80 and $5.10. First Dude returned $4.90
After the race, racing officials said Uptowncharlybrown was
disqualified and unplaced after a weight violation. The horse lost
his lead weight pad during the race and failed to carry the
required 126 pounds.
Zito had mixed emotions about his favorites.
"I'm obviously disappointed in Ice Box," Zito said. "He was
ready to go the last couple of days, but I guess he just left his
race somewhere. He certainly didn't run, that's for sure.
As for Fly Down, who came into the Belmont off an impressive
six-length win in the Dwyer last month over the same track, the
Hall of Fame trainer said "I'm happy obviously Fly Down ran
The victory by Drosselmeyer brings to a close another year
without a Triple Crown win. It's 32 years and counting since
Affirmed became the 11th Triple Crown champion by sweeping the
Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
At first, it appeared the brilliant 3-year-old colt Eskendereya
had a chance to end the longest drought between Triple Crown
winners. But the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial winner
developed swelling in his left front leg and was pulled out of
Derby consideration a week before the race.
It was a tough blow for trainer Todd Pletcher, who came into the
Derby with an 0 for 24 record. But on Derby day, Pletcher's Super
Saver came through to win thanks to a patented rail-hugging ride
from Calvin Borel.
In the Preakness two weeks later, after Borel had guaranteed a
Triple Crown, Super Saver gave way in the stretch and finished
eighth. That ended any chance of a Triple try in the Belmont, and
left the final leg of the Triple Crown without either classic
winner for the second time in four years and just the third time
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)