Belmont notebook: Second-place finisher Frosted misses upset chance

With a Triple Crown on the line, New York racing officials opt to keep attendance below record numbers.

Frosted went off as a 9-2 second choice in the Belmont, and many pegged the late charger as the horse most likely to seize the race if American Pharoah faltered late.

That didn't happen, but Frosted did his part, adding a solid second-place finish to his fourth-place showing in the Kentucky Derby.

“My horse ran great, but the horse everybody expected to win won the race,” said jockey Joel Rosario.

Keen Ice also demonstrated the late speed that made him a popular underdog choice, finishing third for trainer Dale Romans.

“The horse was perfect,” Romans said. “My horse ran his race. It's an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Belmont limits attendance

American Pharoah went off at Belmont Park with a chance to win the Triple Crown, but he never had a shot at drawing a record crowd.

That's because the New York Racing Association capped ticket sales at 90,000, hoping to avoid the logistical nightmares that marred last year's Belmont Stakes. No walk-up tickets were available Saturday.

With a crowd of 102,199 on hand to watch California Chrome in 2014, concession stands ran out of food and beverages hours before post time for the big race. Then departing fans had to wait for hours to board commuter trains.

In addition to limiting attendance Saturday, the NYRA booked a postrace concert by the Goo Goo Dolls, hoping to create a staggered departure schedule for fans.

“This step is similar to the policies and practices of professional sports teams, and will not only result in an enhanced experience for Belmont guests, but will further improve access to and from the Belmont property on Saturday,” the racing association said in a statement.

But the decision surprised many observers, especially given the record crowds this year at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Belmont reached its peak in 2004, when 120,139 came to watch Smarty Jones seek a Triple Crown. That day went off without the problems that hindered last year's race, which drew the third-largest crowd in Belmont history.

Lucrative day

New York racing officials have spent millions of dollars in the past two years to build up the Belmont Day card, hoping to mitigate attendance drops in years when no Triple Crown is on the line.

They haven't had a real chance to test the approach, because the past two years have featured Triple Crown contenders. But the undercard Saturday was impressive regardless, featuring eight stakes races with purses ranging from $300,000 for the Jaipur Invitational to $1.25 million for the NYRA.com Metropolitan Mile.

The Met Mile featured a star-studded field, including last year's Belmont champion, Tonalist, 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern, and former Kentucky Derby and Belmont contender Wicked Strong.

But Honor Code, trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey III, beat them all with a brilliant surge down the stretch. He was considered a strong contender for last year's Triple Crown series but missed all three races because of a ligament injury.

“He's been a special horse all along,” McGaughey said.

It was a day filled with upsets, including Wedding Toast's victory over the great filly Untapable in the $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes.

“The other one had another gear,” said Untapable's jockey, John Velazquez. “She was running, [but] the other horse had another gear.”

In a sad moment during the Jaipur, French horse Helwan pulled up with a broken left front leg and was later euthanized on the track.

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