ESPN Horse Racing

Santos returns to hero's welcome in New York
By Richard Rosenblatt
Associated Press

NEW YORK - Less than 24 hours after he won the Preakness aboard Funny Cide, jockey Jose Santos returned home to the strains of "New York, New York.''

"Thank you,'' Santos said Sunday as he walked from the jocks room to the paddock as fans applauded and chanted "Triple Crown! Triple Crown!'' and the Frank Sinatra classic blared over Belmont Park's public address system.

Even after the fourth race, in which he finished fourth aboard 16-1 long shot Monkey Junior, fans sought out Santos for handshakes and autographs. Last Sunday, the locals jeered Santos after a report in The Miami Herald, accompanied by a photograph, speculated he had something in his hand other than a whip in the Derby. Santos was cleared of any wrongdoing last Monday by Churchill Downs stewards.

Sunday's tribute clearly moved Santos, who couldn't keep a smile off his face. He said he expects a huge, partisan crowd for the Belmont Stakes on June 7, when Funny Cide attempts to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978.