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.

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.