Coming into the 2012 Belmont Stakes, all eyes were firmly placed on the prospects of the first Triple Crown Championship since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. Those dreams quickly went out the window when I'll Have Another, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was promptly retired from competition the morning prior to the potentially historic race.
However, if you ask Bob Baffert the trainer of Bodemeister and Paynter, there was a Triple Crown won on Saturday, albeit a rather dubious one. In each of the three legs of the crown, a Baffert trained horse was led to the front of the pack by jockey Mike Smith. In each of those legs the horse was overtaken at the line, finishing in second. This prompted the trainer to request a new Triple Crown.
Baffert's comments via Boston.com:
"Is there a Triple Crown for seconds? I need a Triple Crown for seconds. I really thought [Paynter] was going to win today. He was doing so well. I knew we had the horse to do it and that horse [Union Rags] snuck up on him. He's still a young horse, still learning how to run. It's over. When you get beat, you get beat.''
For Baffert and Smith to lose in the exact same manner in three straight races, with two different horses, is as remarkable as it is disappointing.