Triple Crown: A look at the close calls in Belmont Stakes
NEW YORK (AP) There have been 31 horses who entered the starting gate for the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown.
Eleven succeeded in sweeping the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. Twenty came up short in the final leg for so many reasons: a stumble at the start, a questionable ride, exhaustion, even broken bones.
The last three Triple Crown winners came in the 1970s: Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
While we’re waiting to see how American Pharoah fares in his Triple try, here’s a look at those who missed in the Belmont, at 1 1/2 miles the longest and most grueling of the three races.
1944: Pensive (second)
This was the first horse to have a Triple attempt spoiled. The chestnut colt had the lead in the stretch before 16-1 long shot Bounding Home inched past and won by a half-length.
1958: Tim Tam (second)
The bay colt finished second to Cavan by 5 1/2 lengths after running the final quarter-mile with a broken bone in his right front ankle.
1961: Carry Back (seventh)
A scrawny, unattractive little colt was poised to make another thrilling stretch run, but when jockey Johnny Sellers asked for more, Carry Back ”spit the bit” – meaning he simply didn’t feel like running anymore. He finished seventh behind 65-1 long shot Sherluck.
1964: Northern Dancer (third)
When Bill Shoemaker chose to ride Hill Rise over Northern Dancer in the Derby, Bill Hartack gladly replaced him. After winning the first two legs, the colt bred in Canada finished third behind Quadrangle, about six lengths back. The race was run at Aqueduct.
1966: Kauai King (fourth)
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, the Maryland-bred named for a Hawaiian island did not have his best day, or close to it, and ran an unthreatening fourth, eight lengths behind the winner Amberoid.
1968: Forward Pass (second)
After a controversial Derby where Forward Pass was declared the winner when Dancer’s Image was disqualified for a medication violation, the horse was denied when Stage Door Johnny ran him down in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths.
1969: Majestic Prince (second)
Arts and Letters, runner-up in the Derby and Preakness, led after a mile and won by 5 1/2 lengths. The trainer of Majestic Prince said his horse was injured and shouldn’t run, but was overruled by the owner. It was Majestic Prince’s first loss in 10 starts – and last race of his career.
1971: Canonero II (fourth)
A record crowd of 81,036 watched this horse from Venezuela, but he was caught in the final quarter-mile by Pass Catcher, who won by three-quarters of a length over Jim French.
1979: Spectacular Bid (third)
Considered a cinch to give racing its fourth Triple Crown winner in the 1970s, the Bid stepped on a safety pin in his stall the morning of the race. He finished third behind Coastal after young jockey Ron Franklin gunned Bid to the lead and the colt faded in the stretch.
1981: Pleasant Colony (third)
An unlikely Triple Crown threat, Pleasant Colony trailed early, came around the turn for home with a chance, but Summing maintained his lead and won by a neck over Highland Blade.
1987: Alysheba (fourth)
After beating Bet Twice in the first two legs, Alysheba didn’t have it on this day. Bet Twice ran off with the lead within a mile, and cruised by 14 lengths over Cryptoclearance.
1999: Sunday Silence (second)
Sunday Silence didn’t have a chance at Belmont Park. Easy Goer, back on his home track, took the lead on the turn for home, pulled away and won by eight lengths. The winning time of 2:26.01 was the second fastest behind Secretariat’s 2:24.
1997: Silver Charm (second)
Seemingly on his way to history after reeling in Free House with an eighth of a mile left, Silver Charm was caught by Touch Gold with about 75 yards to go and was beaten by three-quarters of a length.
1998: Real Quiet (second)
A year after Bob Baffert was barely beaten, it got worse for the trainer. Real Quiet began staggering home in the final furlong and Victory Gallop bore down. The two hit the wire together. The photo finish went against Real Quiet, whose jockey Kent Desormeaux was criticized for moving too early.
1999: Charismatic (third)
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ quest ended with a quarter-mile to go when Charismatic fractured two bones in his left front leg while in the stretch. He still finished third behind 29-1 long shot Lemon Drop Kid. Just past the finish line, jockey Chris Antley jumped off the horse and cradled the injured leg before medical help arrived.
2002: War Emblem (eighth)
Back for another Triple try, Baffert’s front-running speedster was done in early. He stumbled out of the gate and finished eighth behind 70-1 long shot Sarava.
2003: Funny Cide (third)
More than 100,000 braved heavy rain and cold weather, but the New York bred gelding had trouble on the sloppy track. He still led heading into the far turn, but Empire Maker pulled ahead with a quarter-mile to go for the victory. Funny Cide was 5 1/2 lengths back.
2004: Smarty Jones (second)
Smarty Jones opened a 3 1/2-length lead in the stretch before tiring as 36-1 long shot Birdstone caught the popular colt in the final 70 yards and won by a length. A hush fell over a record crowd of more than 120,000.
2008: Big Brown (did not finish)
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., predicted victory. Not close. Big Brown loomed off the lead and looked ready to make his move around the far turn, but the colt drifted outside and was shockingly pulled up. Da’ Tara won at odds of 38-1.
2014: California Chrome (dead heat, fourth)
Chrome was bumped, then kicked at the start, got boxed in along the backstretch and had little left in the stretch in finishing in a dead heat for fourth. Tonalist won by a head over Commissioner.
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