The finish in the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes told us all “the nose knows” for sure.

First of all we have to start with the nose of the victor, Creator. Coming from off the pace and negotiating a 13 horse field, this son of Tapit ran brilliantly and answered the call. Proving he is a real race horse, the Steve Asmussen trained colt fought hard to the finish. Gobbling up ground at an incredible rate inside the final sixteenth under Irad Ortiz Jr., the rapidly improving Creator rewarded his hall of fame conditioner for his confidence. In the weeks between the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, Asmussen knew his horse belonged with the best three-year olds. Then his Arkansas Derby champ went out and proved it.

“The great thing about racing is you can have a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad month, and they don’t put you behind the starting gates,” says Asmussen. “They line you up even with everyone else and give you a chance to prove yourself. He went through a lot of traffic but stayed focused and then did all he could to get up and win a great race. We feel very fortunate because you only have a couple of chances to become a Classic winner. The horse had made so much progress this spring we really had a lot of confidence going into the Triple Crown series.”

Covering the mile and a half distance in 2:28.51, Creator picked up his third win in his last five starts. In earning his second grade 1 win, Creator allowed all to see the three-year old division is about way more than just two horses. Running under the Winstar Farms logo, the faith in both Creator and the conditioner was rewarded.

“We gave the horse to Steve early on and he did a great job in cultivating him as a two year old,” says Elliot Walden of Winstar. “He was a little fiery then and had to be handled the right way. The Belmont validated his career to this point and proved the Arkansas Derby was not a fluke. I am really excited about his future.”

Defeating Destin by a nose proved something for Creator, but it also showed us something about the sport. Yes, he was the third winner in three Triple Crown races, and that helps us smell a couple of things. First, it helps give us a waft of how exciting the sport truly is. Warriors battling through the stretch can make us feel like a kid on Christmas morning. You hope the big present at the end is yours, but regardless, the competition between athletes is a gift for everyone to enjoy. Leaving the gates at odds of 16-1, Creator was proof positive of the depth the sport possesses. With so many quality runners, the uncertainty adds to the excitement. Yes, superstars are important to help the general public identify with the sport, but many stars can light up the sky.

We must all understand the Triple Crown series is but a brief smell of what the sport has to offer. Now, as we move forward into the summer, we can all look forward to potential showdowns between runners in every division. As the food continues to cook, the smell will only get better for Creator and the rest of us. (photo by NYRA)

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