There’s been a lot of discussion since the Belmont about the use of a “rabbit” to set the early speed in a race. Of course, it’s nothing new.
The video above shows the great Damascus with — and without — his rabbit, who was named Hedevar in his races against Dr. Fager; a horse that could not be rated and always got lured into chasing the rabbit.
In the 1957 Belmont Stakes, Gallant Man was helped to his eight length victory by Bold Nero, who was entered in the race to tire out Bold Ruler.
Of course, sometimes the rabbit doesn’t get the message. The very first winner of what would become the Triple Crown, Sir Barton, was entered into the 1919 Kentucky Derby as the rabbit for his barnmate Billy Kelly. He won the Derby by five lengths, moved to Pimlico and won the Preakness four days later, won the Withers ten days later and then the Belmont. Of course, when Sir Barton won those races there was no “official” Triple Crown; he was awarded the honor once the idea had taken hold, several years after his accomplishment.