And They’re Off!

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belmont4Saturday was an exciting day for horse racing enthusiasts. Horses took to the track to run the Belmont Stakes, the final race of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Each spring, three-year-old horses race in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Sitting high atop their shoulders, urging them on, their jockey’s hope to win all three races and claim the Triple Crown. It is the highest prize in American thoroughbred racing.belmont3

Saturday’s final race in the series was especially thrilling because a win from California Chrome would make him only the twelfth horse to win the Triple Crown since the series began in 1875, and the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. A loss would place California Chrome among the 50 horses that came close and won two of the three races but failed to claim the trifecta.

This year, visit the grandstand and discover more about the history of horse racing in America, the three races that make up the Triple Crown, and the horse that has thrilled spectators this year.

belmont7This Year’s Races

Going into the Kentucky Derby, the first of the Triple Crown races, skeptics questioned California Chrome’s pedigree and his training. Read more about California Chrome’s story and watch sports analysts discuss how he races. Listen to California Chrome’s owner explain why this horse is special to him. Meet California Chrome’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, and hear what makes him unique.

Now that you know more about California Chrome and the men behind him, move over to the racetracks. Watch a replay of the Kentucky Derby and see how California Chrome positions himself during the race. Then, watch a replay of California Chrome running the Preakness, the second and the shortest of the three races. So, did California Chrome win on Saturday? Has he joined the elite ranks of race horses? Visit Horse Racing TV to watch a replay of Saturday’s race and find out.

 Horse Racing in Americabelmont2

Americans with connections to England and the Derby imported their interest in horse racing to America. They organized and set standards for breeding and racing thoroughbreds. View a timeline of horse racing in America. Read more about the money in thoroughbred racing.

Not just any horse is a thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds' lineage is closely monitored. Visit HowStuffWorks to read more about how thoroughbreds ‘work.’ Read the history of thoroughbreds. Discover what makes a thoroughbred a thoroughbred, find out how breeders track bloodlines, and learn about the rules for making it into the book. If life as a thoroughbred race horse seems exciting, think again. After a short career, many horses face an unpleasant retirement.

belmont1Triple Crown History

The Triple Crown has been around for generations, yet only eleven horses have won the Triple Crown. Click on a horse’s photo to read more about the eleven that have won. What makes winning all of these three races so difficult? To understand what makes the feat challenging, view a graphic of the three courses. Listen to the NPR story, Why is it so hard for a horse to win the Triple Crown? and consider three factors that influence the race and the horse’s performance. Read Washington Post sports writer Andrew Beyer’s column, American thoroughbreds are no longer bred to go the distance at the Belmont Stakes, for another theory. To better understand Beyer’s commentary, read more about thoroughbred breeding at HowStuffWorks.

As it turned out,Tonalist's incredibly tight victory of California Chrome has upset the Triple Crown contender. The Belmont victor edged out the hopeful champion by the tiniest sliver. Read the Washington Post coverage of this amazing race. (Make sure to click the graphic, on How the Belmont racehorses were named). This did not end without controversy however. California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn, exploded. Find out why Coburn claims the race is unfair by reading the Sporting News report (and video).> at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014 in Elmont, New York.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Coburn? Surely the 2nd place ribbon for California Chrome is a great disappointment. Should Tonalist have 'qualified' for Belmont?
Newspaper Activities
Food, entertainment, science, companionship: animals have been an important part of people’s lives for eons. As you read the local newspaper this week, look for articles that involve animals. Aim for a selection of articles that represent a range of animals and purposes. What questions do you have about each article? What aspects (ie: ethical, scientific, economic) of the story are not covered? Select one article and conduct your own research to learn more.
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