Jockey Bill Shoemaker, attempting to win his sixth Belmont Stakes, said today after his fourth-place finish on favored Linkage, "My horse ran as good as he should have. He was in good position all the way and we have no excuses.
"The pace was fast, really fast. I can't remember when they ran the first half-mile in 47 seconds in the Belmont Stakes. That's real fast going a mile and a half."
Actually, there were two horses in recent years who went faster--Gallant Man (ridden by Shoemaker in 1957), who went in 46 4/5 en route to a track record-breaking performance, and Secretariat, who went in 46 seconds when he broke Gallant Man's record in 1973.
Linkage's owner, Jane duPont Lunger, said, "I'm disappointed, naturally. But I'm glad that all the horses and riders came back safe and sound. We'll win our share of races down the road like we've done in the past."
Trainer Henry Clark had kept Linkage out of the Kentucky Derby and watched his horse lose by less than a length to lightly regarded Aloma's Ruler in the Preakness.
Today, Clark said, "The best horse won today. I'm not happy to lose, but we take the good with the bad. We gave it our best and it was not good enough today."
This year's Triple Crown series does not represent the first disappointment for Lunger and Clark since they teamed in 1948. In 1969, the pair won the prestigious Delaware Oaks with a filly named Pit Bunny, who was disqualified to second.