Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and her husband Todd (R)… (Reuters photo )
NEW YORK — The 1½-mile Belmont Stakes was a bit more than First Dude could handle as he finished third.
He was a game pacesetter three weeks ago in the Preakness, setting all the fractions in the 1 3-16 mile middle jewel of the Triple Crown. He held on for second, beaten only by three quarters of a length.
The gameplan was the same in the Belmont. Jockey Ramon Dominguez sent the strapping colt right to the front and they set a very sensible pace in the longest of the Triple Crown races.
This time, First Dude was running on empty in the lane, passed by Drosselmeyer and Fly Down.
"We had a perfect trip and everything went like we planned, we just couldn't hold it together right there at the end," trainer Dale Romans said. "He ran hard, he did all the work again on the lead. I'm real happy with him. He put in a great effort. No excuses."
Dominguez could feel the colt weaken in deep stretch.
"I had a perfect trip," the jockey said. "In the stretch, he was just a little tired. I was very proud of him. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Romans felt the Preakness and Belmont experience would benefit First Dude, who has only one win in eight starts.
"He's still learning, he's still getting it together and he's still improving," Romans said. "I think we have a lot of fun races in front of us. He'll fly back to Kentucky on Monday, take a little break and figure out what to do with him."
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate was in the stands as part of the First Dude rooting section. First Dude, out of the mare Run Sarah Run, is named for Palin's husband Todd.