There is something sparkling about a equine attempting to brush a Triple Crown, yet when that equine is undefeated, as Justify is, it adds a special component to what is already an ancestral event.
The Belmont Stakes has seen four undefeated horses try to brush a Triple Crown, with Seattle Slew a usually one who succeeded. The California golden boy, Majestic Prince, could usually finish a apart second to Arts and Letters in 1969, that would be a final start of his career. Big Brown had a catastrophic Belmont after winning a initial dual legs in 2008. And afterwards there was 2004 and Smarty Jones, whose better during a hands of 36-1 Birdstone still haunts many of those who witnessed it. Never before had Belmont Park seen such ear-piercing cheers spin to passed overpower in a camber of 25 seconds. People in a stands wept openly, and 14 years later, many still can't bear to watch a race.
Smarty Jones, whose extraordinary Cinderella story prisoner a nation, went into a Belmont with a large fat bullseye on his back, and as feared, several of a jockeys directed their arrows during that bullseye and strike it block passed center, forcing a emanate and removing him rank, ensuing in a suicidal :22 4/5 third quarter; unheard of in a mile-and-half race. But notwithstanding a gang-up tactics, that cost those riders dearly, Smarty Jones still came to a entertain stick with a 3 1/2-length lead, as a record throng began entertaining wildly, even yet Smarty had run a mile and a entertain in a quick 2:00 2/5.
Track announcer Tom Durkin’s voice was already building to a stately crescendo, intuiting story was about be made.
“And Smarty Jones enters a widen to a bark of 120,000.”
Durkin removed several years ago, “I saw this place was impressed with people, so we called down and asked what a guess throng was going to be, since that was partial of a story. we figured if we could fit it in and it seemed appropriate, we would use it. And when we listened all those people screaming when Smarty non-stop a four-length lead, it did seem appropriate.”
But shortly a new name entered a design and Durkin’s voice changed. “But Birdstone is going to make him acquire it today. The whip is out on Smarty Jones. It’s been 26 years. It’s usually one furlong away.”
The gifted Durkin could already feel a dream unraveling. “I was pumped, yet we could tell from a sound of my voice that Birdstone was entrance on,” he said.
“Birdstone is an outward threat. They’re entrance down to a finish. Can Smarty Jones reason on? Here comes Birdstone. Birdstone surges past.” And afterwards Durkin’s voice went somber. “Birdstone … wins … a … Belmont … Stakes”–the final 3 difference dropping as if it had been pushed off a cliff.
“Until they get someone who’s not a tellurian being to call moments like that in racing, you’re going to get that,” Durkin said. “Normally we don’t, yet it kind of fit. It seemed appropriate. The New York Times a subsequent day called it substantially a many non-celebratory win call in sports history. When we prepare, it’s usually jamming a garland of things that competence come up. But 95% of it isn’t. Sometimes you’re usually a fan, yet really intermittently we competence add. It happens maybe one time in 37 years and that was a day.”
Reflecting on what happened to Smarty Jones that day, Durkin pronounced as if dumbfounded, “He ran a third entertain in :22 4/5 … in a mile-and-a-half race? Oh, good lord.” Then he paused for a second and pronounced in disgust, “Ugh, too bad.”
Today, when a name Smarty Jones is brought up, it brings churned reactions. One is expressing a everlasting adore for a equine after all these years and a other is reacting as if a blade had been stranded in their gut.
In posting on Facebook and Twitter of my arriving revisit to Calumet Farm to see Smarty Jones, it brought reactions such as these:
“I can’t consider of a some-more distressing better than Smarty Jones in a Belmont. Still unwatchable 14 years later.”
“I can overtly contend we have never felt so dull after a competition than we did that day. we wanted him to win so bad as an undefeated champion.”
“It pennyless my heart that he mislaid a Belmont, I’ll never forget a largest throng in story unexpected silenced. And a small lady subsequent to me who we comforted when she pennyless out in tears.”
“Brutal. Still can’t watch that race.”
“It was following Smarty that got me into equine racing – still adore him so much!! That Belmont about killed me!! Talk about great my eyes out!!!”
“That Belmont run still breaks my heart. we cried so tough that day.”
“It was some-more wordless immediately after that competition than it was during a impulse of overpower for President Reagan (who died progressing that day).”
“It was so eerie… thousands screaming and then… silence.”
“It was like a balloon got unexpected deflated. The bark of that Belmont throng apropos still as he got passed….you could physically feel it. Awesome equine and attempted so hard.”
“His story was so compelling, so heartwarming. The outcome of a 2004 Belmont Stakes was like a misfortune kind of cruelty joke.”
“His Triple Crown debate was shining and mesmerizing, and his detriment in a Belmont will always be one of a many distressing moments in my racing memory. It was an respect to be in his presence.”
“I still cry when we see that re-run of a 2004 Belmont…..but as a years have left by, I’ve satisfied how smashing Smarty was and all he accomplished.”
“Smarty Jones enters a widen to a bark of a 120,000! Gets me each time.”
“I felt positively SICK. Poor Smarty, he gave his all that day.”
“I adore him so much. That was an extraordinary run even if it finished in heartbreak.”
And there was this request: “Give him a pat from all your bloggers who adore him to this day. we cried when he lost. Not usually tears, yet nauseous crying.”
Yes, Smarty influenced people in many ways, including their relationships–“I adore this equine some-more than difference can say. we indeed finished adult violation adult with a longtime beloved since he wouldn’t go to Oaklawn (we were in Hot Springs) on Arkansas Derby day to watch Smarty. He refused to take me so we missed a race. Still bummed we never saw him run in person.”
Another chairman said, “My son was innate Jun 28, 2004. we provoke him by observant that he was a half-length divided from being named Smarty Jones.”
There is no petrify reason because some horses impact us a approach they do, and because people glory to such an border during their victories and are so deeply affected, infrequently traumatized, by their defeats. In Smarty’s case, both a elation he desirous in his victories and a mishap of his sole better have lasted for 14 years and will continue to do so. His multitude of fans no longer watch a Belmont, and can usually remember a exultation they felt during a entertain stick when feat and story overcame them in one absolute call of emotion. It was as if what happened after that no longer exists in a mind. That is where they have sealed a screen on a Smarty Jones Show.
As for Tom Durkin, he never did get to call a Triple Crown winner, timid one year before American Pharoah came along to finish a 37-year drought. He came oh so tighten with Real Quiet and Silver Charm, yet it was his call in 2004 that will be remembered, not usually for a better of Smarty Jones, yet a better in his voice. Both Smarty and Durkin had story in their grasp usually to see it trip divided in those painful final yards of a Belmont.