If you haven't heard by now, I'll Have Another won't run in the Belmont Stakes today, after a sore tendon on his foot. This is the first time since 1936 which the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes won't race at Belmont. However, horses that aren't going for the Triple Crown tend to not run in all three races that often. The reason; because the modern horse is risking major injury (including life-threatening) by running 3 races in 5 weeks.
The fact that my father isn't just a horse racing fan, but someone who I'd allow to write a horse racing post if the time was right, means that I've had chances to see how often horses run if/when I go to the track (at least twice a year I'd say). None of those horses run three times in a five week span. Because of this, I think it's time to start spacing out the Triple Crown races.
The Kentucky Derby will and should always begin on the first Saturday in May. There's too much tradition at this race, and it's too much of a party atmosphere to change it. The Preakness? No longer two weeks later. We will move it to Memorial Day weekend, while giving those 3-year olds a week or two extra rest and a chance to see many of the Derby horses return for the second leg. Finally, the Belmont will move to Fourth of July weekend. I know some will read this and think that no one's going to pay attention for two months to see if a Triple Crown happen. I say, the race last 2-2 and a half minutes, you can stop what you're doing to watch it.
It really is time for horse racing to adapt to allow a realistic chance to win the three biggest races in the sport. What we don't need is for these 3-year olds to have to retire like I'll Have Another just did, or worse see a Triple Crown attempt end because the horse pulled up and turns into another Barbaro or Eight Belles. Which I say if that happens, we can begin to see the end of the sport in it of itself.
UPDATE: I thought of those wondering if my plan makes it easier for horses to win the Triple Crown, making the achievement a lesser one. My counter; the Belmont is still a mile and a half race, longer than almost any other race any horse will run. It'll never be an easy race.