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American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown in 2015. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

The Belmont Stakes, generally held the first week in June, has been rescheduled for June 20.

Why it matters: For the first time ever, the Belmont will be the first leg of the Triple Crown, not the last. It will also be shorter than usual, giving this year's trio of races an entirely different feel.

The Triple Crown slate, as it stands now:

  • June 20: Belmont Stakes
  • Sept. 5: Kentucky Derby
  • Oct. 3: Preakness Stakes

By the numbers: Normally, the Derby is 1 1⁄4 miles, the Preakness is 1 3⁄16 miles, and the Belmont is 1 1⁄2 miles. But as a safety precaution for horses not used to opening with such a long race, Belmont will be just 1 1⁄8 miles this year — the shortest Triple Crown leg since the 1924 Preakness.

The big picture: "The Test of the Champion" may no longer be a fitting slogan for Belmont given the reduced distance, but in the long run this change could actually be beneficial for the entire sport.

  • In a typical year, all three races occur over a five-week span, with interest dwindling after the Derby kicks things off.
  • But this time around, even though the stretched out timeline isn't perfect (horses can't easily maintain their fitness for 75 days), it should cut down on injuries while also making each race more exciting on its own.

The bottom line: It remains to be seen how owners, trainers, jockeys and horses will take to the revamped 2020 schedule, but for a sport so steeped in tradition, a shake-up like this might prove that just because something's always been done one way, doesn't necessarily make it right.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.

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