Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Triple Crown Near Misses


Thunder Gulch in 1995 was the last horse to complete the Kentucky Derby/Belmont double. Here he is at Ashford Stud in Lexington in January 2009.

  • Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners
  • Preakness/Belmont winners
  • Date: 05/27/2009
    By: Robert Goldberg

    We already looked at the 32 horses who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in Part One and the 18 horses who won both the Preakness and Belmont but not the Derby in Part Two. Now we move on to Part Three, the Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes winners who did not win the Preakness. This double is not as common, with only 11 horses completing it. Sometimes an injury will knock the Kentucky Derby winner out of the Triple Crown before the Belmont Stakes, or if he loses the Preakness his connections don't even go to the Belmont.

    Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes Winners

    In 1923 Zev, owned by Rancocas Stable, trained by D.J. Leary and ridden by Earle Sande as a 3-year old won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Queen's County, Lawrence Realization, and a match race against Papyrus, the English Derby winner. He also set a single season earnings record and retired as leading money earner (replacing Man o' War) with 43 lifetime starts and 18 wins. He finished a well-beaten 12th in the Preakness to Vigil (3rd Kentucky Derby and bypassed the Belmont). That year the Preakness was run first, and in between it and the Derby, Zev won the Rainbow Handicap. In between the Derby and the Belmont, he won the Withers Stakes.


    Twenty Grand as a stallion at Greentree Farm. (from a postcard)
    In 1931 Twenty Grand, owned by Greentree Stable, trained by James Rowe, Jr., and ridden by Charlie Kurtsinger, began his sophomore year by scoring a half-length victory over Clock Tower in the Wood Memorial. The Preakness was run only 7 days later, and after suffering interference Twenty Grand was unable to catch Mate (3rd Kentucky Derby and bypassed the Belmont) and ran second 1-1/2 lengths behind. He finished with 23 lifetime starts and 14 wins. Mate also defeated Twenty Grand as a 2-year old in the Walden Handicap. They also met at 2 in the Pimlico Futurity with Twenty Grand finishing 2nd and Mate 3rd.

    In 1939 Johnstown, owned by Belair Stud, trained by James Fitzsimmons and ridden by James Stout, won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Babylon, Richard Johnson, Remsen, Breeders' Futurity, Paumonok, Wood Memorial, Withers, and Dwyer. After defeating Challedon in the Derby, the two met again in the Preakness. After the runaway win at Churchill Downs, Johnstown had been hailed the next Man o' War, and few thought Challedon (2nd Kentucky Derby, bypassed Belmont) or any of the others in the six horse field could beat the son of Jamestown. In between the Preakness and Belmont, Johnstown also won the Withers Stakes. The two rivals met a total of 4 times with each one winning twice. It poured rain on Pimlico that week, turning the track into a swampy mess. As expected, Johnstown jumped into the lead, stalked by entry mate Gilded Knight. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons trained the pair, and had boldly stated that only Wheatley Stable's Gilded Knight could hold a candle to the undefeated star of Belair. Johnstown led Gilded Knight down the backstretch, and then failed to pull away finishing 5th 1-1/4 lengths behind. Lifetime he had 21 starts with 14 wins.

    In 1942 Shut Out, owned by Green Tree Stable, trained by John Gaver Sr., and ridden by Wayne D. Wright won the Grand Union Hotel, Kentucky Derby, Classic, Belmont, Yankee, Blue Grass, Travers, Wilson, and Laurel Stakes. In the Preakness he ran 5th to Alsab (2nd in Kentucky Derby and Belmont). Lifetime he had 16 wins in 40 starts. Alsab also won the Withers in between the Preakness and Belmont. Alsab would go onto defeat Triple Crown Winner Whirlaway in a match race in September 1942. In the 1942 Derby, trainer John Gaver ran an entry, Devil Diver and Shut Out, for the famed Greentree Stable. Jockey Eddie Arcaro picked Devil Diver, even though the consistent colt (5 wins, 7 seconds, and 1 third in 13 career starts) had missed some training because of a leg injury suffered at Keeneland. Gaver then retained Wayne "Goldie" Wright to ride Shut Out. Shut Out rolled to a solid win over Alsab while Devil Diver struggled home in sixth, almost eight lengths behind the winner.


    The field enters stretch in the 1950 Belmont Stakes. From the rail: Mr. Trouble, Hill Prince, Lights Up, and Middleground, the eventual winner. (from a postcard)
    In 1950 Middleground, owned by King Ranch, trained by Max Hirsch and ridden by William Bolland had the same connections as the 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault, won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Hopeful. After meeting Hill Prince (2nd Kentucky Derby, 7th Belmont) for the first time in the Wood Memorial and finishing 2nd by 2 lengths the rivals would go on to battle 4 more times. In the Derby, Middleground would defeat Hill Prince by 1-1/4 lengths. A week later the two would battle in the Withers with Hill Prince defeating Middleground by 1-1/2 lengths. In the Preakness there was a field of six on a slow track. Early in the race, Middleground was bumped and swung out. Arcaro, who was close to the rail on Hill Prince, saw an opening. He squeezed through and bolted out in front. Middleground chased his rival and moved to within a length on the final turn, but Hill Prince took the challenge and pulled out to win by five lengths over Middleground in second. In the Belmont, Middleground would defeat Hill Prince who had run 10 days earlier in the Suburban. A loss later in the summer to Hill Prince in the Jerome in which he finished off the board for the only time ended their series with Hill Prince winning 4 of the 6 times they met. Lifetime he had 6 wins in 15 starts.

    In 1956 Needles, bred by W.E. Leach in Ocala, was the first Florida-bred Kentucky Derby winner and national champion. He raced for the D & H Stable of Jack Dudley and Bonnie Heath, was trained by Hugh Fontaine and ridden by David Erb. Needles ended the season as the two-year-old champion. Typically closing from 15 lengths or more off the pace, Needles excelled in the three-year-old classic races. He reeled off wins in the Flamingo and Florida Derby. Favored in the Kentucky Derby he came from 24 lengths back to weave through the pack and catch Fabius (2nd Kentucky Derby 3rd Belmont) to win by a length. Fabius, a son of 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation, turned the tables in the Preakness and defeated Needles by 1-3/4 lengths. Lifetime he finished with 21 starts and 11 wins.

    In 1963 Chateaugay, owned by Darby Dan Farm, trained by James P. Conway and ridden by Braulio Baeza was the champion 3-year old colt. He won the Kentucky Derby by 1-1/4 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by 2-1/2 lengths, but fell to Candy Spots (3rd Kentucky Derby and 2nd Belmont) by 3-1/2 lengths in the Preakness. He would finish with 24 lifetime starts with 11 wins.

    In 1972 Riva Ridge, owned by Meadow Stable, trained by Lucien Laurin, ridden by Ron Turcotte, the 2-year old champion, won the Hibiscus Stakes, ran fourth in the Everglades Stakes before bouncing back to score an authoritative win in the Blue Grass Stakes. He won the Kentucky Derby as the favorite by 3-3/4 lengths. In the Preakness, a pouring rainstorm and the mudder Bee Bee Bee (who did not start in either Kentucky Derby or Belmont) conspired to produce a 4th place disappointment for Riva Ridge and the Meadow Stable. Riva Ridge redeemed himself with a stirring seven-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, leading from start to finish. He closed out his career with 30 lifetime starts and 17 wins. In a grudge match of sorts, Riva Ridge faced off against Bee Bee Bee in the Massachusetts Handicap, Riva Ridge leads at every call while Bee Bee Bee comes in 4th. Bee Bee Bee became the standard bearer for the Preakness "house horse", a local Maryland bred and run horse that skips the Derby to enter and win the local stakes race.

    In 1976 Bold Forbes, owned by E. Rodriguez Tizol, trained by Laz Barrera, and ridden by Angel Cordero Jr., won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes going wire-to-wire. He finished third in the Preakness to Elocutionist (3rd Kentucky Derby, bypassed Belmont). He also won the Saratoga Special and the Wood Memorial to become the champion 3-year old. He began his career in Puerto Rico, where he was champion 2-year-old. In 18 lifetime starts he won 13 times and never finished off the board. The Preakness loss was attributed to the furious push Honest Pleasure (2nd Kentucky Derby bypassed Belmont) gave from the start. By the 6th furlong neither colt had much left. In the Belmont, there was a 3-way photo finish.

    In 1984 Swale, son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew owned by Claiborne Farm, trained by Woody Stephens, and ridden by Laffit Pincay, Jr. was the champion 3-year old colt. He won the Kentucky Derby by 3-1/4 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by 4 lengths, but finished a well-beaten 7th in the Preakness to Gate Dancer (5th Kentucky Derby and 6th Belmont). Tragedy would strike eight days after winning the Belmont, when Swale collapsed and died after a morning workout. He was buried in a silk lined coffin at Claiborne Farm. In that Derby, stretch runner Gate Dancer broke poorly from post position 20 then proceeded to pass one horse after another, flying down the stretch. The horse, ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, began to lug in toward the rail, repeatedly bumping Fali Time, and finished fourth. The speedy Swale, always in the clear, won. Gate Dancer was disqualified and placed seventh. Two weeks later, for the Preakness, trainer Jack Van Berg turned Gate Dancer over to Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, who steered the horse to an open spot along the rail and sailed home to win by 1-1/2 lengths in a field of 10. Swale finished with 14 lifetime starts and 9 wins, only once off the board.

    Thunder Gulch as a stud at Ashford Farm in January 2009.

    In 1995 Thunder Gulch, owned by Michael and Doreen Tabor and John Magnier, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Gary Stevens won Eclipse Award for Champion 3-year-old male after winning 7 of his 10 starts. He won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, Travers, and Florida Derby. Timber Country, the 2-year old champion (3rd Kentucky Derby, bypassed Belmont) won the Preakness by a-1/2 length. Running fast and free on the outside, Timber Country passed five horses through the turn and homestretch and held on to win by half a length over the resurgent Oliver's Twist, a traffic-plagued long shot. Thunder Gulch, finished a neck behind Oliver's Twist in third. Oliver's Twist was the house horse owned by an Aberdeen insurance man who paid $6,000 for the colt and had never owned another horse. Thunder Gulch had 16 lifetime starts with 9 wins, earning $2,915,086.

    That covers all the Kentucky Derby/Belmont winners who did not win the Preakness Stakes through 2008.

         Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners - part 1
         Preakness/Belmont winners - part 2
         Kentucky Derby/Belmont winners - part 3

    Article ©2009 Robert Goldberg, used with permission.

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