Smarty Jones only missed sweeping the Triple Crown by a length in 2004, finishing second to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes.
We have all read about the horses that have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to fail in the Belmont Stakes. What does anyone really know about the horses that denied those Triple Crown attempts? Here is part of their story.
Big Brown (2008)
Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr.
June 7 - 10 entered in Belmont Stakes, 9 started after Casino Drive scratched -- Big Brown was sent off as a heavy 3-10 favorite off his spectacular wins in the Derby and Preakness. He broke awkwardly, tracked the leaders in 3rd early, but when asked to make his move he did not respond and was eased through the stretch and did not finish the race, making him the biggest disappointment of all the horses to ever try for the Triple Crown. 38-1 longshot Da'Tara, who did not run in either the Derby or Preakness and was coming off a 2nd place finish in the Barbaro Stakes (formerly the Sir Barton) on the Preakness undercard, took the lead at the start and never looked back, winning by 5-1/4 lengths.
Smarty Jones (2004)
Trained by John Servis
June 5 - 9 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Smarty was sent off as the 2-5 favorite and had the race won until deep stretch when 36-1 longshot Birdstone, who finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness, rallied to catch him at the 1/16th pole and took the lead in the final 50 yards to win by a length. Birdstone only raced two more times after the Belmont, winning the Travers and finishing 7th in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Smarty Jones never raced again and was retired two months later due to chronic ankles problems.
Funny Cide (2003)
Trained by Barclay Tagg
June 7 - 6 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Only five rivals faced Funny Cide, and Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker, who skipped the Preakness, won, with Funny Cide finishing third.
War Emblem (2002)
Trained by Bob Baffert
June 8 - 11 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Sarava, fresh off a win in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard, upset War Emblem at 70-1 in the Belmont. War Emblem ran eighth, the worst finish ever for a Derby/Preakness winner in the Belmont until Big Brown in 2008.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas
June 5 - 12 entered in Belmont Stakes - 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 after falling to an injury.
Silver Charm (1997)
Trained by Bob Baffert
June 7 - 7 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Touch Gold finished fourth in the Preakness and came back to score a three-quarters of a length win over Silver Charm.
Sunday Silence (1989)
Trained by Charlie Whittingham
June 10 - 10 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Sunday Silence proved no match for Derby/Preakness runner-up Easy Goer once the latter got back to his home track in the Belmont.
Trained by Jack Van Berg
June 6 - 9 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Bet Twice, second in the Derby and Preakness, romped to a 14-length win as Alysheba finished fourth.
Pleasant Colony (1981)
Trained by John Campo
June 6 - 11 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Pleasant Colony ran third to winner 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.
Spectacular Bid (1979)
Trained by Bud Delp
June 9 - 8 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Spectacular Bid, 1-5 favorite, undone by a safety pin imbedded in a foot and a misjudged ride in the Belmont, finished third to winner Coastal, who scored an impressive win earlier in a 13-length romp in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Canonero II (1971)
Trained by Juan Arias
June 5 - 13 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Canonero led early, but finished fourth to longshot Pass Catcher, who came into the Belmont off a 2nd place finish in the Jersey Derby.
Forward Pass (1968)
Trained by Henry Forest
June 1 - 9 entered in Belmont Stakes - Forward Pass leads until the eighth-pole and in what would have been the most controversial of all Triple Crown winners, Stage Door Johnny 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 became a stakes race thereafter.
Kauai King (1966)
Trained by Henry Forset
June 4 - 11 entered in Belmont Stakes -- In the lead with a quarter-mile remaining, Kauai King was ahead of 10- other horses, but faded fast and wound up seven 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.
Northern Dancer (1964)
Trained by Horatio Luro
June 6 - 8 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Northern Dancer is second in a nine-horse field with an eighth-mile remaining, but he finishes third behind Quadrangle. Quadrangle finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness.
Carry Back (1961)
Trained by J.A. Prince
June 3 - 9 entered in Belmont Stakes -- 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.
Tim Tam (1958)
Trained by H.A. Jones
June 7 - 8 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Cavan won this race easily and Tim Tam finished second by six lengths in an eight-horse field. Cavan was coming into the Belmont off a first place finish in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Trained by Ben Jones
June 3 - 7 entered in Belmont Stakes -- Pensive leads with a quarter-mile remaining, but he loses by a half-length to Bounding Home. Pensive becomes the first to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to be bitten by the long run in New York. Bounding Home entered the Belmont off a second place finish in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Article ©2004 Robert Goldberg, used with permission. Smarty Jones and Big Brown added by Cindy Dulay in 2009.
For more info about the Triple Crown near misses, you can get details about them all here:
Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners
Kentucky Derby/Belmont winners
Triple Crown quick links:
Triple Crown Index
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