Real Quiet loses by a head to Victory Gallop Victory Gallop in the 1998 Belmont. He came closer than any horse since Affirmed in 1978 to winning the Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown, consisting of the Kentucky Derby the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, did not take shape as a recognizable series of races until 1930. It was then that a Daily Racing Form writer, Charles Hatton, coined the phrase "Triple Crown" in describing Gallant Fox's victories in those three races, each restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.
The Kentucky Derby is a 1 1/4 mile race run on the first Saturday of May each year at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky along with the Kentucky Oaks since 1875. It is the first race of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing followed two Saturdays later by the Preakness Stakes and three weeks later, the Belmont Stakes.
The Preakness Stakes is a 1 3/16 mile race held on the third Saturday in May of each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness is the second and shortest leg in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few new shooters. The Preakness is famous for its "house horse," a local Maryland bred and run horse that skips the Derby. Two years before the Kentucky Derby was run for the first time, Pimlico introduced its new stakes race for 3-year-olds, the Preakness, during its first-ever spring race meet in 1873. Governor Bowie had named the mile and one-half race in honor of Dinner Party Stakes winner Preakness.
The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, is run at 1-1/2 miles. Because of its length, and because it is the last part of the Triple Crown, it is sometimes called the "Test of Champions". Most 3-year-olds are unaccustomed to the distance, and lack the ability to maintain a winning speed for so long. The Belmont Stakes was named after financier and sportsman August Belmont, Sr., first run in 1867 and it has been run at Belmont Park since 1905 except between 1963-1967 while it was being rebuilt. The first post parade in the United States was at the 14th Belmont, in 1880. The race distance has varied: from 1867 until 1873, it was 1 5/8 miles. In 1874 the distance was reduced to 1-1/2 miles, and from 1890 to 1892, and in 1895, the distance was 1 1/4 miles. From 1896 until 1925, the distance was increased to the original 1 5/8 miles. In 1926, the race distance was set at the present 1-1/2 miles.
The Triple Crown trophy
Eleven horses have won all three races, making them Triple Crown champions. There have also been eleven horses to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. So far, eighteen horses have won both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, but seven of them from the pre-Triple Crown era did not start in the Kentucky Derby. Of the 32 horses so far to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, all but two also ran in the Belmont Stakes. Here are their stories.
For more information about the horses who spoiled their attempts at greatness, check out the Triple Crown Spoilers. For more about the 11 horses who have actually won all three races, check out the Triple Crown Champions.
In the 1930's, Burgoo King and Bold Venture won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but tendon injuries prevented them from running in the Belmont Stakes. Burgoo King remained sidelined for 23 months and Bold Venture who was retired would go on to sire Triple Crown winner Assault and near-miss Middletown.
In 1944 Pensive, trained by Ben Jones won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He had the lead with a quarter mile to go in the June 3rd Belmont in which 7 others were entered, but gave way to Bounding Home, coming off a win in the Peter Pan Handicap, and couldn't catch him after a gritty stretch duel that left Pensive a half-length short of the Triple Crown. Pensive would finish with 22 lifetime starts and 7 wins.
In 1948 Citation became the 8th horse in 29 years to win the Triple Crown. Since that time 21 horses would stand on the threshold of horse racing immortality, but only 3 others were up to the challenge.
In 1958, Tim Tam, a dark bay colt by Tom Fool out of Two Lea, trained by H.A. Jones and bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm made his run for glory. This horse had won the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and Derby Trial. Tim Tam, a relative to such greats as Coaltown, Bewitch and Citation, won the Kentucky Derby by a 1/2 length and the Preakness by 1-1/2 lengths. The Belmont was held June 7 and 8 horses were entered. Cavan won this race easily and Tim Tam's 8-race win streak was ended as he finished second by six lengths. Cavan was coming into the Belmont off a first place finish in the Peter Pan Stakes. In the 1950's the Peter Pan Stakes was the prep for several Belmont winners. Then in 1961, its stakes status was taken away and was run as an allowance event two weeks before the Belmont for the next 15 years. Tim Tam was discovered to have been injured in the Belmont stretch run forcing his retirement. Lifetime he had 14 starts with 10 wins, 1 place and 2 shows.
In 1961, Carry Back, a brown colt by Saggy out of Joppy, trained by J.A. Price and bred in Florida by J.A. Price was the next to take his shot. His sire had once beaten the great Citation. He had won the Florida Derby, finished second in the Wood Memorial, and went off as the favorite in all three Triple Crown races. Carry Back won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by 3/4 lengths. The Belmont was held June 3. Carry Back never gets into contention and finishes seventh in a nine-horse field. He came across the wire 14 lengths behind winner Sherluck. Sherluck placed 5th in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The Kentucky Derby was the 29th start for Carry Back. He finished with 61 lifetime starts, 21 wins, 11 places, and 11 shows.
In 1964 the great Northern Dancer, a bay colt by Nearctic out of Natalma, trained by Horatio Luro and bred in Canada by E.P. Taylor, had his shot at Triple Crown glory. While not the favorite in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, this colt did win the Florida Derby, Flamingo Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes and Remsen Stakes. Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby by a neck and the Preakness by 2-3/4 lengths. The Belmont was held June 6th and despite going off as the favorite Northern Dancer is second in a nine-horse field with an eighth-mile remaining, but he finishes third, 6 lengths behind Quadrangle. Quadrangle finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness. Northern Dancer would finish his career with 18 starts, 14 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds. Today he is recognized as one of the greatest sires in all of racing.
In 1966 Kauai King, a dark bay colt by Native Dancer out of Sweep In, trained by Henry Forrest, and bred in Maryland by Pine Brook Farm, went off as the strong favorite in all 3 races. Kauai King won the Kentucky Derby by a half length and the Preakness by 1-3/4 lengths. The Belmont was held June 4th and in the lead with a quarter-mile remaining, Kauai King was ahead of 10 other horses, but faded fast and wound up 7 lengths behind winner Amberoid. Amberoid came into the Belmont off a 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a 3rd place finish in the Preakness. Kauai King has previously defeated Amberoid in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. Kauai King finished with 16 lifetime starts, 9 wins, 2 places, and 1 show.
The most controversial decision in all of Triple Crown racing took place in 1968. Forward Pass, a bay colt by On-and-On out of Princess Turia, trained by Henry Forrest and bred in Kentucky by his owner Calumet Farm, won the Kentucky Derby via disqualification. Forward Pass went off as the favorite in all 3 races but lost to Dancer's Image by 1-1/2 lengths in the Derby. Dancer's Image was later disqualified when phenylbutazone was found in his post-race urine sample. While this was legal at some racetracks, Churchill Downs was not among them at the time. The Kentucky State Racing Commission ordered redistribution of the purse with first money to Forward Pass, second money to Francie's Hat, third money to T.V. Commercial and fourth money to Kentucky Sherry. After extensive litigation, the Commission's order was upheld in April, 1972, by Kentucky's highest court in Kentucky State Racing Commission et al v. Peter Fuller, 481 S. W. 298. Because this ruling appeared to affect only the money distribution, no one was sure who should be listed as having come in first. In a subsequent proceeding, the Commission also ordered that Forward Pass be considered the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, except for pari-mutuel pay-offs, and that the 1968 gold cup Kentucky Derby trophy be awarded to its owner, Calumet Farm. Forward Pass won the Preakness by 6 lengths. The Belmont was run June 1st with 9 horses entered. Forward Pass led until the eighth-pole and was beaten by 1-1/2 length by Stage Door Johnny. Stage Door came into the Belmont by winning "the Peter Pan Purse" – an allowance race. He was one of the first colts to use the allowance as a springboard for the Belmont Stakes, and it returned to a stakes race thereafter. It should also be noted that Stage Door Johnny broke his maiden in May, the same week Forward Pass was awarded the Kentucky Derby win. Dancer's Image did run in the Preakness and finished 3rd, but was disqualified for bumping and placed 8th. Dancer's Image would finish his career with 24 starts and 12 wins. Forward Pass finished with 23 lifetime starts, 10 wins, 4 places, 2 shows.
Majestic Prince won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for retired champion jockey turned trainer Johnny Longden. (from a postcard)
In 1971, an unlikely contender from Venezuela made his attempt at the Triple Crown. Canonero II, a bay colt by *Pretendre out of Dixieland II, trained by Juan Arias and bred in Kentucky by E.B. Benjamin, won the Kentucky Derby by 3-3/4 lengths and the Preakness by 1-1/2 lengths as the co-favorite. Despite going off as the favorite in the 13 horse field in the June 5th Belmont, a pre existing injury prevented Canonero II from finishing any better than 3rd. Canonero led early, but finished fourth. 4-1/4 lengths behind 34-1 long shot Pass Catcher, who came into the Belmont off a 2nd place finish in the Jersey Derby less than a week before the Belmont. Lifetime Canonero II had 23 starts with 9 wins, 3 places and 4 shows.
In 1973, 25 years had passed and 7 horses had won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to come up short when a big red machine known as Secretariat rewrote the history books. Seattle Slew followed Secretariat in 1977 by becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown undefeated. In 1978, Affirmed and Alydar hooked up to make history by becoming the first horses to finish 1-2 in all three races. In the Affirmed-Alydar series a third horse, Believe It, finished third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, however his trainer decided he had seen enough of Affirmed and Alydar and did not run the Belmont.
In 1979, on the heels of Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, a gray colt by Bold Bidder out of Spectacular, trained by G.G. (Bud) Delp and bred in Kentucky by Mrs. William Jason and Mrs. William Gilmore, exploded into the Triple Crown series. Bid went off as a favorite in all 3 races and won the Kentucky Derby by 2-3/4 lengths and the Preakness by 5-1/2 lengths. On June 9th 8 horses were entered and Spectacular Bid went off as the 1-5 favorite. After a misjudged ride in the Belmont, in which he became involved in a speed duel with 85-1 long shot Gallant Best, he finished third, 3-1/4 lengths behind winner Coastal, who was coming in off a 13-length romp in the Peter Pan Stakes. Legend has it that the poor finish in the Belmont was attributed to an injury sustained the night before the race. Trainer Bud Delp claimed a safety pin became lodged in one of his hooves and caused the horse to run a dull race. The story is probably true because Bid finished his awesome career with 30 starts, 26 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third.
In 1981, Pleasant Colony, a dark brown colt by His Majesty out of Sun Colony, trained by John Campo and bred in Virginia by T.M. Evans, made his attempt at glory coming off a win in the Wood Memorial, only his second win as a 3-year old. Pleasant Colony won the Kentucky Derby by 3/4 lengths and the Preakness by 1 length. In the June 6th Belmont, 11 horses were entered and Pleasant Colony ran third 1-1/2 lengths behind Summing, who had won his maiden race over Pleasant Colony and came into the Belmont with wins on the turf in the Hill Prince Stakes and on the dirt in the Pennsylvania Derby. Pleasant Colony would finish with 14 lifetime starts, 6 wins, 3 places, and 1 show.
The 1978 Triple Crown runner-up Alydar sought redemption through his offspring Alysheba in the 1987 Triple Crown series. Alysheba, a bay colt by Alydar out of Bel Sheba, trained by Jack Van Berg and bred in Kentucky by Preston Madden, had only two wins. His sole win as a 3 year old came off a disqualification, yet he won the Kentucky Derby by 3/4 lengths and the Preakness by a 1/2 lengths. The Belmont was held June 6th and 9 horses were entered. Bet Twice, second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, romped to a 14-length win as Alysheba finished fourth. Alysheba would finish with 26 lifetime starts, 11 wins, 8 places, and 2 shows. Alysheba and Bet Twice would go head to head a total of 7 times. Alysheba won 3 times, was second twice, and finished off the board twice. Bet Twice won 3 times, came in second 3 times, and finished off the board once.
The year 1989 looked awfully much like 1969. Sunday Silence, a dark brown colt by Halo out of Wishing Well, trained by Charles Whittingham and bred in Kentucky by Oak Cliff, won the big west coast prep races. Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby by 2-1/2 lengths and then the Preakness by a nose both over Easy Goer. Easy Goer was a son of Alydar and won the big east coast prep races. In this east coast versus west coast battle, In the June 10th Belmont in a 10 horse field, Easy Goer would prevent Sunday Silence from winning the Triple Crown by beating him by 8 lengths in the second fastest Belmont ever. Sunday Silence would finish his career with 14 starts, 9 wins and 5 places. There was one more battle between these two rivals with Sunday Silence winning the Breeders Cup Classic by a neck.
While the 1990's were quiet for the most, they would end with a flourish. In 1997, Silver Charm, a gray or roan colt by Silver Buck out of Bonnie's Poker, trained by Bob Baffert, bred in Florida by Mary Lou Wooton, and owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, made a run for the Crown. Winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by a head, Silver Charm was leading down the homestretch in the June 7th Belmont only to be caught by Touch Gold and finished 2nd by 3/4 of a length. Touch Gold was one of 7 horses in the field and he was coming off 4th place finish in the Preakness. Silver Charm would finish with 24 lifetime starts with 12 wins, 7 places, and 2 shows.
Real Quiet loses the 1998 Belmont Stakes by a head to Victory Gallop.
Trainer Bob Baffert would return the next year with Real Quiet, a bay colt by Quiet American out of Really Blue, bred in Kentucky by Little Hill Farm. This horse had connections with Believe It who finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness behind Affirmed and Alydar. Real Quiet was winless as a 3-year-old. The 1998 series was reminiscent of 1969 and 1989. Real Quiet won the Kentucky Derby by a half length and the Preakness by 2-1/4 lengths over Victory Gallop. In a field of 11 for the June 6th, history would repeat Arts and Letters in 1969 and Easy Goer in 1989, as Victory Gallop caught Real Quiet at the wire in the Belmont Stakes. Real Quiet was up by 4 lengths at the eighth pole and this defeat came on a photo finish and would be the closest defeat any horse would suffer in the quest for the Triple Crown. Real Quiet finished with 20 lifetime starts, 6 wins, 5 places, and 6 shows.
Charismatic at the 1999 Kentucky Derby.
In 1999, Bob and Beverly Lewis would return with Charismatic, a chestnut colt by Summer Squall out of Bali Babe. This colt was bred in Kentucky by Parrish Hill Farm and was trained by D Wayne Lukas. As a long shot, Charismatic won the Kentucky Derby by a neck and the Preakness by 1-1/2 lengths. The Belmont was held June 5, and the field was 12. After placing 9th in the Kentucky Derby and finishing 3rd in the Peter Pan Stakes, Lemon Drop Kid won the Belmont and Charismatic finished third 1-1/2 lengths behind after falling to an injury in the stretch run. Charismatic also made history by running in a claiming race three months before the Kentucky Derby. His run in a $62,500 claiming race made him the first horse in 29 years since Dust Commander to have run in a claiming race before winning the Derby. Charismatic would finish with 17 lifetime starts, 5 wins, 2 places, and 4 shows.
War Emblem wins the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
In 2002 came War Emblem, a dark brown colt by Our Emblem out of Sweetest Lady, trained by Bob Baffert and bred in Kentucky, was sold to Sheikh Ahmed bin Salman after his final Derby prep, a win in Illinois Derby. War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby by 4 lengths, going wire to wire, and followed up by winning the Preakness by 3/4 of a length. In the June 8th Belmont Stakes, 11 horses showed up and War Emblem stumbled coming out of the gate, failed to get the lead, and could not run off the pace. Sarava, fresh off a win in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness under card upset War Emblem at 70-1 in the Belmont. War Emblem ran eighth, 19-1/2 lengths behind, the worst finish ever for a Derby/Preakness winner in the Belmont. He also was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby going wire to wire since Winning Colors in 1988. War Emblem finished with 13 lifetime starts, 7 wins.
Funny Cide wins the 2003 Preakness
In 2003, for the first time in the history of the Triple Crown, the challenger was a New York bred gelding with bloodline connections to Seattle Slew. Funny Cide was a chestnut gelding by Distorted Humor out of Belle's Good Cide, trained by Barclay Tagg, bred by Win Star Farm, and owned by a group of friends with a small stable. Funny Cide finished behind Peace Rules in the Louisiana Derby and second to Empire Maker in Wood Memorial, but returned to battle trainer Bobby Frankel's top two favorites in the Kentucky Derby and won by 1-3/4 lengths. In the Preakness, he gave a dominating performance winning by 9 lengths, defeating Peace Rules again. In the June 7th Belmont Stakes, Bobby Frankel had a well-rested Empire Maker waiting to play the spoiler in the 6 horse field. The Tuesday before the Belmont saw Funny Cide turn in a lightning-quick final tune-up, five furlongs in 57 4/5 seconds. This blistering work out and a sloppy track sealed Funny Cide's fate. Empire Maker won and Funny Cide finished a well-beaten third 5 lengths behind. Funny Cide would race until 2007 finishing with 38 career starts, 11 wins, 6 places, and 8 shows.
Smarty Jones winning the 2004 Preakness
In 2004 Smarty Jones, formerly named "Get Along," a chestnut colt by Elusive Quality, out of I'll Get Along, owned and bred by Someday Farm, trained by John Servis and ridden by Stewart Elliott out of Philadelphia Park, like Majestic Prince and Seattle Slew took an unbeaten record into the Belmont. Smarty won the Kentucky Derby over a sloppy track by 2-3/4 lengths and dominated the Preakness by setting a record win with an 11-1/2 length romp. The Belmont Stakes was held June 5 and drew a field of 9. Jockey Alex Solis, riding Preakness runner-up Rock Hard Ten for the first time, rode a suicidal race from the start that caused Rock Hard Ten to have no shot. Despite that effort Smarty was ahead with a 1/4 mile to go. The failure to settle and constant pressure from his Preakness nemesis was enough to weaken Smarty, as 36-1 long shot Birdstone (the only other Grade 1 winner in the race) was able to pass him in the final strides. Smarty finished 1 length behind to the 8th place Kentucky Derby finisher Birdstone, still 8 lengths ahead of the third place horse. Like Majestic Prince, Smarty Jones came out of the Belmont with injuries and was forced to retire never racing again. Smarty Jones finished his racing career with 8 wins from 9 starts.
Big Brown wins the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
In 2008 Big Brown, a brown colt, by Boundry out of Mien, owned by IEAH Stables & Paul Pompa Jr., bred by Monticule in Kentucky, trained by Rick Dutrow and ridden by Kent Desormeaux took a lightly raced but undefeated record into the Triple Crown series. Big Brown was able to overcome many significant historical trends. In the Florida Derby, Big Brown became the first horse to win from either post 11 or 12 at the distance since the track was reconfigured in 2005. In the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown drew post position 20 and Clyde Van Dusen was the last horse to win the Derby from the far outside and that victory came in 1929 and was the only victory from the post in the previous 133 years. Big Brown also had to defy Derby history by becoming the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to win off just three career starts. In the Derby the 2-1 favorite eliminated any suspense with an explosive turn of foot, quickly collaring the leaders and blowing into the stretch drive with an expanding advantage to win over the filly Eight Belles for a 4-3/4 length decision. Immediately after the race, runner up Eight Belles had to be put down on the track after breaking both her front legs. In the Preakness, Big Brown went off as the 1-5 favorite and Desormeaux was able to get Big Brown off the rail in the backstretch to a clear spot just off the leaders. Traveling clear and wide around the final bend Big Brown easily caught up to the leaders and unleashed a tremendous turn of foot and put several lengths between him and his rivals in a mere 100 yards. Big Brown was eased up before the sixteenth pole and won "under wraps" by 5-1/4 lengths. Big Brown joined Majestic Prince (1969), Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (1977) and Smarty Jones (2004) as undefeated Derby and Preakness winners.
Big Brown on the far outside starting to pull up in the Belmont, while Da' Tara on the inside starts to pull away after rounding the final turn.
Belmont Stakes day on June 7th was extremely hot at 97 degrees, and despite facing 9 rivals, all but 2 of whom he had easily dispatched previously, Big Brown's quest ended in an ignominious defeat. Da'Tara, as expected, broke on top and went right to the front. Big Brown, breaking from the rail, appeared to get distracted. He became rank just as he passed by the starter and stand. By this time, Big Brown was on the muscle and getting ranker by the second. Desormeaux was able to find another seam behind Tale of Ekati and abruptly steered Big Brown out, bumping with Anak Nakal. Big Brown finally was free, but was extremely wide as he headed down the backstretch. Meanwhile, 38-1 longshot Da'Tara had gotten away with a 48.30 half, as he led by a length over Tale of Ekati, who had moved up along the inside. With Big Brown in perfect striking position right behind in third through three-quarters in 1:12.90, passing the half-mile pole, Desormeaux began riding Big Brown and, shockingly, there was no response. The track had become deep and cuppy from the heat baking down on it, and it was obvious Big Brown was struggling over it. Da'Tara by now had opened a clear lead and kept extending it around the turn. When Denis of Cork ran right by Big Brown on his inside, it was the end of the favorite and the dream of a Triple Crown. Desormeaux, in melodramatic fashion, steered Big Brown abruptly toward the outside fence and began to ease him to a last place finish. Despite weeks of Dutrow boasting of greatness often seen as trashing any and all horses, even previous Triple Crown near misses, his horse was the first one seeking a triple crown to finish dead last. Da'Tara, who lost to Big Brown by 23-1/2 lengths in the Florida Derby and had only a maiden win to his credit, won by 5-1/4 lengths while earning a 99 Beyer Speed Figure, the lowest in the race since Beyer figures were first published in 1990. Because Big Brown came out of the race with no health issues, Desormeaux was widely criticized for his race tactics and blamed for the poor showing.
That covers all the Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners who did not win the Belmont 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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