“If it were anyone besides me, I was rooting for Kiaran,” said Pletcher, who like McLaughlin was a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “He is one of my best friends, a great person, and I am very, very happy for him. I am disappointed. There is no consolation in second for me.”
Jazil came into the Belmont with only a maiden victory last year, and was 0-for-4 this year. But the colt picked a good time to win one of racing’s biggest events, even without Barbaro and Bernardini in the field.
Barbaro, the brilliant 3-year-old hailed as a Triple Crown threat after his dominating 6½-length victory in the Derby, shattered three bones in his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness. All day, the crowd of 61,168 had the opportunity to sign a giant get-well card that will be sent to the hospital in Pennsylvania where Barbaro has been recovering.
Bernardini, who took the Preakness by 5¼ lengths, was back at his Belmont barn after Sheik Mohammed decided to rest the colt for a summer campaign that will include the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.
That left the Belmont with the also-rans — five horses from the Derby, two from the Preakness and five in their first Triple Crown race. It was a far cry from six of the last nine years, when there were Triple ties on the line and record crowds showing up only to be disappointed each time.
Under sunny skies and gusty winds, Bob and John went off as the slight favorite at 9-2. The colt trained by Bob Baffert took the lead and held it for the first mile before Bluegrass Cat and eventually Jazil ranged into contention around the turn.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
With the victory, his second in eight career starts, Jazil earned $600,000 to boost his bankroll to $872,217.
Although the race had an exciting finish, the end of the Triple Crown series will be remembered more for who wasn’t in the Belmont than who was.
The Triple Crown season fell apart with Barbaro’s horrifying breakdown. It had racing fans caring less about the Belmont and more about the brilliant colt’s chances of survival in the buildup to the Belmont. Positive daily updates on Barbaro’s health buoyed the racing world, and ABC/ESPN had live reports on Barbaro from the University of Pennsylvania’s George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa.
Horses in the Belmont Stakes on June 8 will face tighter security for the second straight year.