Popular national radio and television sports-talk personality Jim Rome is a racehorse owner who allocates program time periodically to bantering about Thoroughbred racing.   He occasionally interviews TVG host/reporter Christina Olivares and she has reciprocated by having Mr. Rome on TVG.

Mr. Rome’s TV and radio shows are terrific places to be talking up racing because of the youthful male-oriented audience.   And the attractive and articulate Ms. Olivares, who is from a racing family, is a great representative.   TVG management says that its audience size increases whenever Ms. Olivares is on the air and she no doubt gets the same kind of attention from Mr. Rome’s fans.

Today (Friday, June 12, 2009), Mr. Rome and Ms. Olivares spent considerable time discussing the merits of a couple of Mr. Rome’s racehorses.   Ms. Olivares handicapped a maiden special weight race scheduled for tomorrow at Hollywood Park in which Mr. Rome’s entry will be competing, among others, against two entries from the stable of Bob Baffert and one from trainer Dave Hoffman.   Another question that Mr. Rome posed to Ms. Olivares was the advisability of running one of his equine athletes against the sensational Zenyatta.   She suggested that Mr. Rome go for it as Zenyatta could have a bad day or poor racing luck and, at any rate, his entry might hit the board.

The most interesting part of the conversation, in my view, concerned Mr. Rome’s question about whether any horse would ever again win the American Triple Crown.   Ms. Olivares countered that winning the Triple Crown was eminently doable and that both Real Quiet and Smarty Jones could very well have hung on in the Belmont Stakes to complete the feat.   This dialogue got me thinking about the relative difficulty of the American Triple Crown versus the English Triple Crown.

In the history of the American Triple Crown, eleven colts have completed the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont triumvirate, beginning in 1919 with Sir Barton and ending in 1978 with Affirmed.   But the English Triple Crown, in my opinion, is more formidable.   While the American Triple Crown is especially trying because of the compacted five weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont, the English Triple Crown poses more problems in terms of distance.   The English Triple Crown begins with the 2000 Guineas Stakes in early May at 1 mile, which is followed in early June by the Epsom Derby at 1 ½ miles, and then is completed with the St. Leger Stakes in mid-September at 1 ¾ miles.   A winner has to have the right combination of speed and stamina and maintain form for over four months. 

This year, for the first time in 20 years, the same colt, Sea of Stars, has won the first two legs of the English Triple Crown.   Yet, the chances for a Triple Crown don’t look promising because his trainer, John Oxx, doubts that his colt can get the 1 ¾ miles in the St. Leger and is unlikely to give him the chance.   He said: “I think the St. Leger…might be a bridge too far.”   No wonder that since the 1853 beginning of the English Triple Crown that only 15 horses have won it.    The last winner was the Vincent O’Brien-trained Nijinsky in 1970 and before that the previous winner was 1935.

Coming back to the Jim and Christina conversations, please keep them going.   They expose racing to a large audience of sports-hungry young men and Jim and Christina are passionate and informative ambassadors.

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