Race 3 during Opening Day at Belmont Park on Wednesday featured a pair of interesting Italiian-named stallions. Unfortunately, neither Fauci, named in honor of Dr. Anthony Fauci nor Garoppolo, named for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, could gallop to victory to make their namesakes proud.
Fauci, a heavy favorite at 4/5 early in the day and dropping to even odds at post time, couldn’t close enough ground down the stretch from the No. 3 position and finished second in the five furlong race for 2-year-olds. Garoppolo, from the No. 1 spot, faded fast in the five-horse contest. The winner was Prisoner, who had the second-best post odds at 6/5 working from No. 2 and trained by three-time Belmont Stakes winner Todd A. Pletcher.
Although it would have been great for Fauci the horse to win to honor the work the doctor has done as America’s top medical voice of reason during the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t meant to be for jockey Tyler Gaffalione and trainer Wesley A. Ward. Garoppolo couldn’t quite rally to finish third for jockey Jose L. Ortiz and Kelly J. Breen, as instead Indoctrinate showed behind Prisoner and Fauci.
The race, the third of the day at the Triple Crown course, marked the first time in 80 days that Belmont Park had seen a horse race because of sporting event shutdowns tied to coronavirus concerns. While the Kentucky Derby at Louisville’s Churchill Downs has been pushed back to Sept. 5 instead of May and the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore will be run Oct. 3, the Belmont Stakes, the typical third jewel, is still set to be run as the first one this year on June 20.
Garoppolo isn’t the first former or current Patriot to have a horse named after him. There was the eponymous Gronkowski and also Eight Rings, which was a nod to how many total Super Bowl rings Bill Belichick has earned as a coach and defensive coordinator.
Without Fauci the doctor’s expertise on infectious diseases such as COVID, there would be no chance sports could think about safe ways of coming back. It was only fitting that Fauci the horse, even in defeat, was part of another sport coming back at Belmont.
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