BALTIMORE — If Always Dreaming had won Saturday’s Preakness, the New York Racing Association would have capped the crowd at 90,000 for the June 10 Belmont Stakes. He didn’t, so 50,000 probably will be more like it.
After the Derby winner finished eighth at Pimlico, it seems unlikely he will compete in the Triple Crown finale. And there’s no guarantee that Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run that day, either.
When trainer Chad Brown was asked about his Belmont plans for Cloud Computing, he didn’t sound gung-ho about running him. “We really don’t know,” Brown said. “We’re just going to take it race by race with this horse. We’re going to see.
“Do I think he’s a mile-and-half horse? He’s never struck me that way, but I’m not going to rule it out. Let’s see how he comes out of it and who is running and get a feel for it.
“And I’ll leave it as a possibility right now.”
In 2010, Derby champion Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky skipped the Belmont.
When there’s no Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont is still New York’s signature race, but the buzz is muted and attendance drops dramatically. But if a horse wins the Derby and the Preakness, the 1½-mile lap around North America’s biggest racetrack becomes a mainstream, international event with historic overtones. Not this year.
Among horses who skipped the Preakness, Japan-based Epicharis and Derby also-rans Gormley and Irap are being pointed for the Belmont.
Two years ago, American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Starting with Spectacular Bid in 1979, 13 thoroughbreds came to Elmont with a chance for a sweep and none became an immortal. A dozen were defeated, and I’ll Have Another was scratched because of a career-ending leg injury the day before the 2012 race.
The crowd was capped at 90,000 for Pharoah’s Belmont after there were numerous logistical problems the year before, when California Chrome’s bid ended. The Belmont’s attendance record was set in 2004, when 120,139 saw Smarty Jones denied. A Triple Crown was in play the previous two years, drawing crowds of 101,864 (2003) and 103,222.
In 2008, 94,476 showed up on a brutally hot, humid day to see Big Brown’s Triple Crown meltdown, in which he was pulled up in the stretch. Only 46,870 attended the year before, when Street Sense and Curlin split the first two races.