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When Triple Crown bids, U.S. Opens have hit LI

Gronkowski works out under exercise rider at Belmont

Gronkowski works out under exercise rider at Belmont Race Track on Friday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

This originally appeared in The Point. Subscribe here.

For two weekends in a row, the sporting world will turn to Long Island for marquee events. This Saturday, the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes will have horse racing aficionados and folks who just love a good party flocking to Belmont Park for the excitement of a potential Triple Crown win by Justify.

The focus will shift about 85 miles to the east next week, where the 118th U.S. Open will bring golf’s biggest stars to the Shinnecock Hills golf course in Southhampton, where there is also a special allure this year. Tiger Woods, who has not won a major golf tournament since the U.S. Open 10 years ago, will report to the East End with his strengthening wood and iron play.

But what does superstition tell us about a Triple Crown bid and a U.S. Open hitting Long Island in the same year?

There has never been a Triple Crown winner in a year when the U.S. Open was played here, from the recent forays at Shinnecock and Bethpage Black to old-school opens like the 1923 event at Inwood Country Club won by Bobby Jones and the 1902 Open at Garden City Golf Club won by Laurie Auchterlonie.

There have been two years when a Triple Crown attempt coincided with the marquee golf event on Long Island.

In 2002, War Emblem struggled in the Belmont to an eighth-place finish while long shot Sarava took the victory, paying $142.50 for every $2 win ticket.

In 2004, the undefeated Smarty Jones came to Belmont as the favorite, but lost when Birdstone, at 36-1 odds, overtook him in the stretch. The loss marked the third year in a row a potential Triple Crown winner lost in Elmont.

Superstitious tip from The Point: Stay away from Justify and bet the long shots Saturday.

As far as golf? Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage the year War Emblem faltered, while Retief Goosen took the win at Shinnecock following Smarty Jones’ loss.