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Triple Crown Near Misses


Giacomo on the far outside winning the 2005 Kentucky Derby with eventual Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex on the rail finishing third.

  • Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners
  • Kentucky Derby/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. Now we move on to Part Two, the Preakness/Belmont Stakes winners who did not win the Kentucky Derby. There have been 18 horses who won both the Preakness and the Belmont, with 7 of those horses skipping the Kentucky Derby during the pre-Triple Crown era before the race became so popular.

    Preakness/Belmont Stakes Winners

    Of the 7 horses that did not run in the Kentucky Derby, 5 of these races took place before 1900. Cloverbrook in 1877 was owned by E.A. Clabaugh, trained by J. Walden, and ridden by C. Holloway. The Preakness was run 2 days before the Kentucky Derby. Baden-Baden won the Kentucky Derby, bypassed the Preakness and finished 3rd in the Belmont.

    In 1878, Duke of Magenta, owned by Geo. & L. Lorillard, trained by R.W. Walden and ridden by C. Holloway, won the Withers, Travers, Kenner, Sequel, Harding, Jerome, Annual, Dixie, and Breckinridge Stakes and was named champion 3-year old male. The Preakness and Kentucky Derby were run during the same week and Day Star won the Kentucky Derby but did not run in either the Preakness or Belmont.

    In 1880 Grenada, owned by Geo. & L. Lorillard, trained by R.W. Walden and ridden by L. Hughes also won the Potomac, Lorillard, Travers, Jerome, Dixie, and the Coney Island Derby as the champion 3-year-old male. George Lorillard purchased him for $1,300 at the 1878 Woodburn yearling sale. The length of time between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness was 10 days. Fonso won the Kentucky Derby and did not run in either the Preakness or Belmont.

    In 1881 Saunterer, owned by Geo. & L. Lorillard, trained by R.W. Walden and ridden by Costello also finished 3rd in the Tidal. Hindoo won the Kentucky Derby and did not run in either the Preakness or Belmont.

    In 1895 Belmar, owned by Preakness Stable, trained by Edward Feakes and ridden by F. Taral also won the Manhattan. Halma won the Kentucky Derby and did not run in either the Preakness or Belmont.


    Man O'War as a stallion. (from a postcard)
    The 2 other horses that did not start in the Kentucky Derby occurred in the early 1920's. In 1920, Man O'War owned by Glen Riddle Farm and trained by L. Feustel and ridden by C. Kummer, also won the Withers in between the Preakness and Belmont. Lifetime 20 wins in 21 starts. He did not run in the Kentucky Derby because of his owner's issues with travel outside the Mid-Atlantic area that early in the season. Paul Jones won the Kentucky Derby and did not run in either the Preakness or Belmont.

    In 1922 Pillory, owned by R.T. Wilson, trained by T.J. Healey and ridden by L. Morris also finished 2nd in the Withers and 3rd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Lifetime 9 starts with 4 wins and off the board 3 times. Unable to run in the Kentucky Derby because it was ran the same day as the Preakness. Morvich won the Kentucky Derby and did not run in the Belmont.

    In 1940 Bimelech, owned by E.R. Bradley, trained by W. Hurley and ridden by F.A. Smith was the Champion 3-year old colt with a lifetime record of 15 starts and 11 wins. He finished 2nd in Kentucky Derby to Gallahadion (3rd Preakness and 5th Belmont) after he was unable to hold the lead approaching the final furlong. Bimelech entered the Derby with a perfect record in 8 starts. In between the Preakness and Belmont wins was a loss in the Withers. After the Belmont, he would finish 3rtd in the Classic behind Gallahdion's 2nd place finish.

    In 1949 Capot owned by Greentree Stable, trained by J.M. Gaver and ridden by T. Atkinson, was the Champion 3-year-old colt. Lifetime 28 starts with 12 wins. Finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby to Ponder (5th Preakness and 2nd Belmont) after going to the front when settled in the stretch, held on willingly, but was unable to withstand Ponder, although easily best of the others. The two rivals would also meet in the Peter Pan Handicap held in between the Preakness and Belmont. Ponder won that race with Capot finishing 7th 10 lengths behind. They also met in the Arlington Classic with Ponder winning again and Capot finishing 6th.

    In 1953 Native Dancer, owned by Alfred Vanderbilt, trained by William Winfrey and ridden by Eric Guerin, was the Champion 3-year old colt. He was also the champion 2-year old colt and also Horse of the Year at age 4. Lifetime 21 wins in 22 starts. In his only defeat he finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby to Dark Star (5th Preakness) after being roughed at the first turn by Money Broker, eased back to secure racing room, raced wide during the run to the upper turn, then saved ground entering the stretch and finished strongly, but could not overtake the winner, although probably best. Native Dancer entered the Kentucky Derby with an 11-race win streak on the line. Dark Star bowed a tendon in the Preakness and never raced again.

    Nashua (from a postcard)

    In 1955 Nashua, owned by Belair Stud (William Woodward, Jr.), trained by James Fitzsimmons and ridden by Eddie Arcaro was a champion 2-year old colt and champion 3-year old colt and Horse of the Year at 3, had a lifetime record of 30 starts and 22 wins. He finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby to Swaps who bypassed the Preakness and Belmont due to an injury. He was well placed from the outset, was kept in hand to the last 3/8 mile, moved up boldly on the outside of Swaps for the stretch run but was not good enough for the latter, although much the best of the others. In December 1955, Nashua met and defeated Swaps in a match race by 6 lengths.

    In 1967 Damascus, owned by Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft, trained by Frank Yewell Whiteley, Jr., and ridden by Bill Shoemaker was the 3-year old champion colt and also Horse of the Year, with 32 lifetime starts with 21 wins and 1 start out of the money. Finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby to Clarion Proud (3rd in the Preakness and 4th in the Belmont). He was reserved off the pace for 3/4, loomed boldly along the outside on the final turn to continue gamely to mid-stretch where he appeared to hang under extreme pressure. The loss in the Derby has been attributed to the high humidity. Damascus became nervous while being saddled, kicking his legs up and never settling in the race.

    Little Current

    In 1974 Little Current, owned by Darby Dan Farm, trained by T. L. Rondinello and ridden by Robert Ussery was the 3-year old champion colt, with 4 wins in 16 lifetime starts. He started sluggishly but closed strongly to finished 5th in the 100th Kentucky Derby to Cannonade (3rd Preakness and 3rd Belmont) in a 23-horse field. Little Current was last at the first point of call. Little Current never raced after the Belmont and was retired due to an injury. He died on January 19, 2003, at age 32 and was the oldest living winner of a Triple Crown race at the time.

    In 1988 Risen Star, a son of the great Secretariat owned by Roussel & Lamarque, trained by Louie Roussel III, and ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, was the 1988 Champion 3 year old colt with a record of 11 lifetime starts, 8 wins and on the board every time. Finishing 3rd to filly Winning Colors (who was 3rd in the Preakness and 6th in the Belmont) in the Kentucky Derby, he was outrun into the backstretch while racing wide, continued along the outside while rallying approaching the stretch and failed to seriously menace while making up ground late. An interesting side note to this race was what took place in the Preakness as a result of the bitter warring and sparring between trainers D. Wayne Lukas and "Woody" Stephens and their charges, Winning Colors and Forty Niner, respectively. Lukas scored the Round 1 victory in the Kentucky Derby, having gotten a clear, easy lead in the early stages and rolling all the way to the wire to hang on against a charging Forty Niner. Stephens declared war in the Preakness. Knowing that a front running Winning Colors would be especially tough at the shorter Preakness distance, Stephens issued jockey Pat Day with an order: press the filly, hard, every step of the way, or else. It worked to perfection. Winning Colors was tried throughout the early stages, and was beaten. Of course, Forty Niner actually finished worse than his rival, but Stephens made good on his threat.

    In 1991 Hansel, owned by Lazy Lane Farms, Inc., trained by Frank Brothers and ridden by Jerry Bailey was the champion 3-year old colt. In the Kentucky Derby he finished a well-beaten 10th to Strike the Gold (6th Preakness and 2nd Belmont). Lifetime he finished with 14 starts and 7 wins. The Belmont was his last win. In the Travers he tore a tendon in his left foreleg.

    In 1994 Tabasco Cat, owned by Shizunai Stallion Station, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Pat Day was forced into Brocco at the start, quickly reached a striking position outside horses, remained a factor after moving inside on the second turn, but gave way in the drive to finish 6th to Go for Gin (2nd in both the Preakness and Belmont). Lifetime he finished with 8 wins in 18 starts.

    Point Given winning the 2001 Belmont Stakes

    In 2001 Point Given, owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens was Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old colt, and had 6 wins in 7 starts. In the Kentucky Derby he broke to the inside bumping the winner, moved up steadily to gain a striking position 5 wide on the backstretch, made a threatening run on the second turn, then flattened out when straightened for the drive to finish 5th to Monarchos (6th Preakness and 3rd Belmont). He went on to win the Preakness by 2-1/4 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by 12-1/4 lengths. In 13 lifetime starts he would win 9 times and finish off the board only once. He became the first Thoroughbred ever to win four million-dollar races in a row (Haskell Invitational, Preakness, Belmont, and Travers). He was just one of 5 horses since 1900 to win the Preakness, Belmont, and Travers (others are Man O'War, Damascus, Whirlaway, and Native Dancer.) He was retired because of a strained tendon in one of his legs. At 2 he won the Hollywood Futurity and Kentucky Cup Juvenile, and was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes.

    Afleet Alex winning the 2005 Belmont Stakes

    In 2005 Afleet Alex, owned by Cash Is King Stable, trained by Tim Ritchey and ridden by Jeremy Rose was champion 3-year old colt. Lifetime he had 8 wins in 12 starts. He finished off the board only once and that was due to a later discovered illness. At 2 he won the Sanford and Hopeful and was second in the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. At 3 he won the Preakness, Belmont, Arkansas Derby, and Mountain Valley Stakes. In the Kentucky Derby, despite a blistering pace for 6 furlongs set by a 71-1 long-shot rabbit, he was nicely placed under light rating from early on while between foes 4 or 5 wide, rallied near the inside around the far turn, came out and split rivals while four wide when straightened into the stretch, gained on even terms for the lead in deep stretch and wasn't quite good enough and finished 3rd 1 length behind 50-1 long-shot Giacomo (3rd Preakness and 7th Belmont) and 70-1 long-shot Closing Argument. Despite his convincing Belmont Stakes win, an injury sustained in a near devastating collision with Scrappy T at the top of the stretch in the Preakness was detected and ended his racing career. Afleet Alex finished with a record of 12 starts, 8 wins, 2 places, and 1 show.

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