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Belmont busts: How 11 have misfired since Affirmed's Triple Crown

By Alicia Wincze Hughes Lexington Herald-Leader (MCT) • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:37 PM

Eleven horses have won horse racing’s Triple Crown.

None has done so since Affirmed in 1978.

Since then, 11 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes only to come up short in the Belmont Stakes

California Chrome will be the next to try when he goes to post at 6:52 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Here is a look at how the most recent 11 attempts at history have been derailed.


Issues coming into the Belmont: Jockey Ron Franklin was inexperienced and let other riders get into his head.

Belmont excuse: Trainer Bud Delp claimed Bid stepped on a safety pin the morning of the race causing him to be lame. Pin or no pin, Franklin chased an 85-1 long shot early and moved too soon during the Belmont, leaving Bid to get passed by Coastal and fade to third.


Issues coming in: No real knocks on his form but had a late-running style that isn’t always conducive to the 11/2-mile Belmont.

Belmont excuse: Broke slowly and was last in the 11-horse field early on. Couldn’t close on the tepid pace and wound up third behind Summing.


Issues coming in: Had a staunch rival in Bet Twice and was racing without the anti-bleeder medication Lasix for the first time as its use was still banned in New York.

Belmont excuse: Jockey Chris McCarron concedes he did not give the eventual 1988 Horse of the Year the greatest of rides, having him too far off a soft pace. Bet Twice was running easily up front and drew off for a 14-length romp with Alysheba fourth.


Issues coming in: Had to face rival and future fellow Hall of Famer Easy Goer over that one’s home track, where Easy Goer was 3-for-4 lifetime going into the race.

Belmont excuse: The sweeping turns of Belmont indeed proved more favorable to Easy Goer than the nimble Sunday Silence as he sat just off the early pace and defeated the son of Halo by 8 lengths.


Issues coming in: Had only won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by head margins, so there wasn’t much separating him from chief challengers like Free House and Touch Gold.

Belmont excuse: Since Silver Charm could prevail in almost any dogfight, Touch Gold’s jockey, Chris McCarron, put together a crafty plan of rushing past Silver Charm on the outside in the final 50 yards of the Belmont, catching his rival before he could see him coming.


Issues coming in: Despite being a Grade I winner at age 2, Real Quiet had won only four of 14 starts coming into the Belmont leading many to question if his ability was Triple Crown-worthy.

Belmont excuse: Jockey Kent Desormeaux took criticism for moving too soon in the race, opening up a clear lead in the lane but then getting caught by a nose at the wire by Victory Gallop.


Issues coming in: Ran for a claiming tag five starts before winning the Kentucky Derby, again leading to questions about how good he really was.

Belmont excuse: Count the late Chris Antley as another jockey singled out for moving too soon, but the real problem came when Charismatic suffered two broken bones in his front left leg during the stretch — injuries that ended his career — and was pulled up just after finishing third.


Issues coming in: One dimensional in his front-running style and ineffective when forced to rate.

Belmont excuse: Worst-case scenario happened when he stumbled and nearly went to his knees at the start, had to rush up between horses to get back into contention and was spent by the time he hit the stretch, coming home eighth.


Issues coming in: Despite winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, many still believed the upstart gelding wasn’t as good a horse as his Wood Memorial conqueror Empire Maker.

Belmont excuse: Worked a sizzling 5 furlongs in :57 4/5 days out from the Belmont, leaving trainer Barclay Tagg worried the gelding left his race in the a.m. After leading the field through the mile mark, Funny Cide was overtaken by Empire Maker and faded to third.


Issues coming in: Had stamina questions in his pedigree.

Belmont excuse: Got ganged up on by Rock Hard Ten and Eddington early on, which made Smarty Jones more keen on the front end under jockey Stewart Elliott. Still held a clear advantage in the stretch but tired late and was passed by Birdstone.

BIG BROWN (2008)

Issues coming in: Had a quarter crack in his left front hoof flare up in the weeks leading up to the Belmont. Was also reportedly taken off the steroid regimen he had previously been on leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Belmont excuse: The record shows he was pulled up by jockey Desormeaux approaching the quarter pole after dropping back in the field. Whether his foot, a loose horseshoe or any other conspiracy theories contributed to the end result remains unsubstantiated.



Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with their Belmont result (X-Triple Crown winners):

2014 — California Chrome

2012 — I’ll Have Another (scratched)

2008 — Big Brown (ninth)

2004 — Smarty Jones (second)

2003 — Funny Cide (third)

2002 — War Emblem (eighth)

1999 — Charismatic (third)

1998 — Real Quiet (second)

1997 — Silver Charm (second)

1989 — Sunday Silence (second)

1987 — Alysheba (fourth)

1981 — Pleasant Colony (third)

1979 — Spectacular Bid (third)

1978 — Affirmed (won)-X

1977 — Seattle Slew (won)-X

1973 — Secretariat (won)-X

1971 — Canonero II (fourth)

1969 — Majestic Prince (second)

1968 — Forward Pass (second)-Y

1966 — Kauai King (fourth)

1964 — Northern Dancer (third)

1961 — Carry Back (seventh)

1958 — Tim Tam (second)

1948 — Citation (won)-X

1946 — Assault (won)-X

1944 — Pensive (second)

1943 — Count Fleet (won)-X

1941 — Whirlaway (won)-X

1937 — War Admiral (won)-X

1936 — Bold Venture (did not run)

1935 — Omaha (won)-X

1932 — Burgoo King (did not run)

1930 — Gallant Fox (won)-X

1919 — Sir Barton (won)-X

Y-won Derby on disqualification of Dancer's Image for testing positive for illegal medication.


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