Today isn't ROSE COSTELLO's first trip to the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line. She was in New York two years ago for I'll Have Another's shot at history.
"Unfortunately, he was injured and did not run," the Urbana resident said. "He did have an appearance, though, in the paddock and the winner's circle."
Costello, who scored tickets to California Chrome's big moment this week, is to horse racing what LOREN TATE is to sportswriting. She was there when Genuine Risk won the Kentucky Derby, visited an aging Affirmed at his Kentucky farm and mingled with owner Penny Chenery and jockey Ron Turcotte at a premiere for the film "Secretariat."
"Some baseball fans like to go to as many ballparks as they can throughout the country," she said. "We like to go to racetracks in the same way."
Costello was kind enough to clue us in about today's race:
— Betting on the favorite won't make you rich.
"You might want to bet $2 for him to win and keep the ticket as a souvenir. I think Wicked Strong might be a good one to include in a trifecta or superfecta bet. Commanding Curve, Ride on Curlin and Medal Count also might be included."
— The stars are aligning for California Chrome.
"California Chrome has broken from the same post positions/gates for all three races as Secretariat. The people at Belmont have decided to play the song that used to be traditionally played before the Belmont — 'The Sidewalks of New York' — rather than the Frank Sinatra song they have been playing more recently. Are these good omens?"
— Horse racing-specific channels — she subscribes to HRTV and TVG — are the way to go.
"NBC covers the Triple Crown races and covers extraneous stuff like fashion and celebrities. I would prefer that they stick to the horses, but I suppose they need to appeal to a wider audience."
— Champaign is going to have to settle for an OTB.
"I can't imagine that there will ever be a track in Champaign. Arlington and Hawthorne have enough trouble keeping their races and calendars full."
— She's rooting for the favorite.
"I hope that California Chrome wins. In a race like the Belmont, really anything can happen and has. It is a long race, and you have to have racing luck as well as talent. California Chrome has more experience than many of the other horses. That should help, but he also has had several tough races in a short time period."