By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - How long did it take you?

Did the lead horses even make it to the final turn before you reached for the remote?

That's probably a pretty fair assessment for me, too.

It was only a matter of finding something else to watch because what I was watching was over.

Once Orb got trapped inside midway through Saturday's Preakness Stakes, another Triple Crown dream ended for everybody.

Oxbow, ridden brilliantly by 50-year-old-returner-from-retirement jockey Gary Stevens, not only won the Preakness, but sent horse racing to the back pages of the sports section again.

Now, you can't fault Oxbow. The horse doesn't know that his sport desperately needs a shot of hype. And you can't be mad at Stevens because he was just doing his job, and doing it very well.

Maybe you can throw some blame at the handlers of Orb. Despite being an overwhelming favorite to win the Preakness, he was far from a super horse, though, he came up awfully small when we needed him to come up awfully big.

Imagine if Orb had won.

First of all, you and I wouldn't have switched channels before the race was over.

The folks at Sports Illustrated wouldn't have shouted out, "Scratch the cover with the horse on it and get me a picture of Tim Duncan or some other NBA star."

The network folks wouldn't have cringed about the ratings dip that the Belmont Stakes just surely took.

The Belmont Stakes organizers, begging for a horse with a chance to win the Triple Crown on their track on June 8, wouldn't have banged their heads on the table.

And we'd have had some excitement for the next three weeks as it would be all Orb all the time leading up to the Belmont Stakes.

But, again, let's not blame the horse, let's blame the system.

Every horse that wins the Kentucky Derby becomes the next great hope. Will this be the horse that ends the Triple Crown drought?

We're now at 35 years and counting since Affirmed last won the Derby, Preakness and Belmont. So, to put that in perspective, unless you're close to 50 years old, you don't remember what it's like.

Well, I'll tell you. First, you had the brilliant Secretariat, the greatest horse of them all, win the Triple Crown in 1973 and then Seattle Slew did it four years later. A year after that, in 1978, Affirmed did it again.

It was horse racing's finest hour in the last 50 years.

And since then? Well, we've had many horses win the first two legs and then come up short at the Belmont. Those horses, though, sad as it may be, are quickly forgotten by the general public.

But why can't it be done? The simple answer, and likely the most correct one, is that the owners of the horses don't want to run them too often for fear of the horses getting hurt.

A horse that has to be put down doesn't earn a cent in the barn.

If, or if not that's the case, that's the reality. Expensive horses don't get pushed because expensive horses produce expensive offspring in the breeding shed. It's always about the money.

We need owners and trainers to change their way of thinking. Of course, that won't happen, and pricey horses won't race too much, but we can hope.

"I really don't know why the horses today don't race a lot," said Ron Turcotte, the jockey of Secretariat, in an interview last week.

"Horses need to run."

Turcotte's right, but he knows things won't change, either.

Instead, we wait. And we'll wait until next May to see which horse wins the Kentucky Derby in 2014.

And then we'll hope that horse wins the Preakness so we can talk about a potential Triple Crown.

If this sounds like a recording, well, I guess it is.

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