The 125th Belmont Stakes turned into a rush of tears Saturday, with Julie Krone crying for joy after she became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race and Mike Smith walking off the track after his horse broke down and had to be destroyed.
Under a perfect ride from Krone, Colonial Affair defeated the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners with a stretch run that led to a 2 1/4-length victory before 45,037 on a chilly, rainy day marred by the death of a second horse in this year’s Triple Crown series.
Preakness winner Prairie Bayou, the 5-2 favorite, broke down about halfway through the 1 1/2-mile race. His left foreleg badly broken, he was destroyed with a lethal injection, three weeks after Union City suffered a similar fate in the Preakness.
Sea Hero, the Derby winner, was never a factor in finishing seventh in the 13-horse field.
Krone cried and cried after pulling up Colonial Affair past the finish line. “When do I stop crying?” she asked a Belmont Park outrider who was on a pony beside her.
This was a goal that was a long time coming for the 29-year-old Krone, who had ridden in three previous Triple Crown races--one Derby and two Belmonts--with no better than a sixth-place finish.
After Colonial Affair’s upset at 13-1, Krone recalled watching on television when an 18-year-old Steve Cauthen won the 1978 Belmont with Affirmed, sweeping the Triple Crown races.
Krone, then 14, was sitting on a trunk, wearing a baseball cap turned backward and holding a fly swatter. As Cauthen won the race, she turned to her mother and said: “Mom, I’m going to be a jockey!”
She did, too, winning more than 2,500 races--more than any other woman--going into this year and running up $47 million in purses.
Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the Triple Crown, finishing 15th in the 1970 Kentucky Derby. Overall, women have ridden in eight Triple Crown races.
That Belmont of Cauthen’s flashed through Krone’s mind at the top of the stretch Saturday. She was also saying to herself: “I’ve got a ton of horse under me.”
Cherokee Run and Silver Of Silver were on the lead then, but they were tiring and Colonial Affair was still strong. “He was pulling me into the bridle,” Krone said. “At the five-eighths pole, we moved with Sea Hero, and I was in a pocket and able to get out. But it was still the longest stretch drive of my life. This is like ‘National Velvet,’ it’s a dream come true. It takes you from delirious to making you want to cry to making you want to do it again.”
Colonial Affair got a late start as a 3-year-old, not running until he won an allowance race at Aqueduct on April 9 by 8 1/4 lengths. Under trainer Scotty Schulhofer, he stayed in New York while the Triple Crown horses competed in Kentucky and Maryland.
Colonial Affair’s next start was another allowance victory, at Belmont on May 5. On May 23, he led in the stretch of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont before losing to Virginia Rapids by 1 3/4 lengths.
As a 2-year-old, Colonial Affair won one of four starts, finishing fifth in the Nashua at Aqueduct in his only stakes start.
Krone has ridden him in six of his eight races. “He’s got long legs, a big body and big feet,” she said. “He’s been kind of gawky. He’s a Baby Huey-type horse.”
With Prairie Bayou breaking down, Sea Hero never firing and Cherokee Run stopping at the quarter pole, the three favorites were not factors. The odds on the first four finishers were 13-1, 13-1, 51-1 and 33-1, with Kissin Kris taking second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Wild Gale, who was two lengths better than Silver Of Silver.
After them, in order, came Virginia Rapids, Cherokee Run, Sea Hero, Bull Inthe Heather, Antrim Rd., Raglin Road, Only Alpha and Arinthod. Because of a fever, El Bakan was scratched.
Earning $444,540 of the $740,900 purse, Colonial Affair paid $29.80 to win. His time on a track listed as good was a slow 2:29 4/5.
Colonial Affair is a son of Pleasant Colony and Snuggle, a Nijinsky II mare. His sire won the Derby and Preakness in 1981 before running third in the Belmont.
Centennial Farms, a syndicate of 12 investors, bought Colonial Affair as a yearling for $100,000. “We started the partnership 10 years ago,” said Don Little, a Wall Street investor and one of the colt’s owners. “I always believed buying good bloodlines and good conformation would pay off. If you have good people and good bloodlines, something’s got to happen.”
Colonial Affair was ninth after a half-mile and advanced methodically thereafter. His steady move to the front was something Jerry Bailey was unable to match with Sea Hero.
“You know how you say you always want to have a lot of horse?” Bailey said. “Well, I had too much horse. I couldn’t get him to relax and as early as the first turn, I didn’t think he was going to get a mile and a half that way.”
Horse Racing Notes
West By West won Saturday’s $400,000 Nassau County Handicap at Belmont by three-quarters of a length over Valley Crossing, with Devil His Due, the 9-5 favorite, running fourth. West By West, ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn, paid $10.40. Strike The Gold ran third and Missionary Ridge was fifth in the eight-horse field.
Female Jockeys A look at how female jockeys have fared in Triple Crown races: KENTUCKY DERBY
Jockey Year Horse Finish Diane Crump 1970 Fathom 15th Patty Cooksey 1984 So Vague 11th Andrea Seefeldt 1991 Forty Something 16th Julie Krone 1992 Ecstatic Ride 14th
Jockey Year Horse Finish Patty Cooksey 1985 Tajwa 6th
Jockey Year Horse Finish Julie Krone 1991 Subordinated Debt 9th Julie Krone 1992 Colony Light 6th Julie Krone 1993 Colonial Affair 1st