Even though Sunday Silence has won two of their three meetings, the net winning margins favor Easy Goer by about 5 1/2 lengths, which will prompt heated discussion about which colt is the best 3-year-old in the country.
Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and the Preakness by a nose, then Easy Goer won Saturday’s Belmont Stakes by eight lengths.
Not matter how persuasive the arguments for either side, the issue will be settled on the track, but probably not soon.
The plans for Easy Goer are to run in the $500,000 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park July 29 and in the $1-million Travers at Saratoga Aug. 19.
The only thing definite about Sunday Silence’s plans are to ship him to California Monday. Trainer Charlie Whittingham said he has no immediate race in mind.
“Maybe we ought to get Easy Goer to come to California,” said Pat Valenzuela, Sunday Silence’s jockey, but Shug McGaughey, Easy Goer’s trainer, has ruled that out.
“I train in New York, and Charlie Whittingham trains in California, and that’s usually where we (each) run our horses,” McGaughey said. “I’m not going to California to run in the swamp.”
The ultimate goal for both colts is the $3-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park Nov. 4, and it’s possible that they might not meet until then.
When McGaughey walked over to the track from the barn area before the Belmont, he said to his assistant trainer, Buzzy Tenney: “If things go the way I think they’ll go, this is going to be fun to watch.”
Easy Goer was won eight of 12 starts, with four seconds. At Belmont Park, he ran second in the first race of his career, and Saturday’s victory was his fourth straight here, after wins as a 2-year-old in an allowance race, the Cowdin Stakes and the Champagne.
Easy Goer is the first 2-year-old champion to win a Triple Crown race since Spectacular Bid in 1979.
“I’ve said all along that this is the best horse in the country,” said Pat Day, Easy Goer’s jockey. “And I never lost any confidence in him.”
Day made a long walk to McGaughey’s barn at Pimlico the night of the Preakness, after he had been criticized for a poorly timed ride.
“It ran through my mind that I might lose the mount (for the Belmont),” Day said. “But then I shared some thoughts--I won’t tell you what--with Shug and I felt better.”
According to Day, McGaughey said: “Let’s go get them in the Belmont.”
Ogden Phipps, Easy Goer’s owner, has raced some excellent horses, the best of whom was Buckpasser, who was voted horse of the year in 1966.
Asked if Easy Goer is better than Buckpasser, Phipps said: “I was afraid I’d be asked that question. Maybe he will be, but he’s got to do some more. Buckpasser was pretty darn good.”
Horse Racing Notes
Pat Day rode his first Belmont winner. His best finish in five previous rides was when Pine Circle ran second to Swale in 1984. . . . In a strange development, Patrick Biancone, Le Voyageur’s trainer, said that the colt would go back to Europe before returning to the United States in the fall for the Breeders’ Cup. Before the Belmont, Biancone said that Le Voyageur can’t handle grass, which is the only surface that’s used overseas.
The $2 Belmont Park exacta on Easy Goer and Sunday Silence was $8.80. . . . There were some other stakes run at Belmont Saturday. Is It True won the seven-furlong Riva Ridge by 2 1/4 lengths over Mr. Nickerson; Tricky Creek took the 1 1/8-mile Colin by 2 1/2 lengths over Rampart Road, and Rose’s Cantina scored a 6 1/4-length victory over Make Change in the 1 1/8-mile Hempstead Handicap, with Banker’s Lady, the 1-5 favorite, finishing fourth. There was some heavy show betting on Banker’s Lady--$243,000 out of $273,000 in the pool--which accounted for some strange payoffs. Rose’s Cantina paid $16 to win and $20.40 to show; Make Change paid $37 to show, and Colonial Waters, the third-place finisher, paid $19.20.
Le Voyageur went off at 29-1 in the Belmont. . . . Sunday Silence, who has six wins and three seconds in nine starts, had lost by only a neck and a head in his two previous defeats. . . . The on-track handle at Belmont was $8.6 million, second to the $9.2 million that was bet on the 1987 Belmont Stakes.
NO CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT
Horses that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to win the Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown for 3-year-olds.
Year Ky. Derby, Bel. Belmont Preak. Winner Fin. Winner 1932 Burgoo King DNR Faireno 1936 Bold Venture DNR Granville 1944 Pensive 2nd Bounding Home 1958 Tim Tam 2nd Cavan 1961 Carry Back 7th Sherluck 1964 NorthernDancer 3rd Quadrangle 1966 Kauai King 4th Amberoid 1968 Forward Pass 2nd Stage Door Johnny 1969 Majestic Prince 2nd Arts and Letters 1971 Canonero II 4th Pass Catcher 1979 Spectacular Bid 3rd Coastal 1981 Pleasant Colony 3rd Summing 1987 Alysheba 4th Bet Twice 1989 Sunday Silence 2nd Easy Goer
DNR--Did not run.