Belmont Stakes 2012: Looking Back at Other Triple Crown Contenders
On June 9, the racing world will be on the edge of its seat as I'll Have Another attempts to win the first Triple Crown since 1978. I'll Have Another ends a four-year Triple Crown attempt drought that goes back to Big Brown in 2008. However, an attempt at the Crown isn't extremely rare in horse racing. Since 1990, six others have joined the two in the attempt at the Triple Crown. While some of these horses stopped racing after the Triple Crown challenge, others continued racing—some past their three-year-old season.
The seven Triple Crown contenders all bring an interesting career to the plate when looking back on Triple Crown history so here's a look back at what they pulled off on the track that many others couldn't come close to achieving.
In 1997, trainer Bob Baffert made a huge splash in the racing world when he trained Silver Charm to winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The horse came within 3/4 length of winning the Crown but fell short to Touch Gold.
The Silver Buck son came into the Triple Crown with a record of 6-3-3-0 and had every reason to retire after his feat but owners Bob and Beverly Lewis not only brought him back for the rest of the year, they raced him in 1998 and 1999 as well.
In this time, the horse racked up numerous wins and placings but his most famous win post-Triple Crown had to be the 1998 Dubai World Cup. He returned to the race in 1999 but finished sixth and retired a few months later after a fourth-place finish in the G2 Stephen Foster Handicap. Overall, in his career he won 11 graded stakes and earned $6,944,369.
He currently stands stud in Japan.
Most trainers would kill for the opportunity to have a chance at the Triple Crown once in their lifetime, but Bob Baffert has done it multiple times, including back-to-back years. After his disappointment with Silver Charm, he returned to the Trail with Real Quiet. This time, the horse lost by only a nose in a major disappointment for the racing world.
Unlike Silver Charm, Real Quiet didn't have the best record coming into the Triple Crown. It took the horse seven starts to break his maiden and he came to the Kentucky Derby with just one stakes victory, the G1 Hollywood Futurity.
Like Silver Charm, Real Quiet continued running after his attempt, retiring in 1999 after a win in the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup. Other than the Gold Cup, Real Quiet only won one more stakes after the Triple Crown in his career but finished second and third in three others.
Real Quiet retired with stats of 20 starts, six wins, five seconds, and six thirds for earnings of $3,271,802, including five Grade One wins.
Real Quiet died in 2010.
The story of Charismatic is the stuff of legends, as the horse broke his maiden in a claiming race before going on to Triple Crown fame. The horse not only broke his maiden in a claimer; his next win also came in a claiming race and it took until April of his three-year-old year for the horse to get a stakes win (the G2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes).
By the time Charismatic set a hoof on Churchill Downs, he already had 14 starts in his career and only three wins. The horse had run in four stakes races prior to the Derby but other than coming second in the G3 El Camino Real Derby and winning the Lexington, the Summer Squall son didn't impress.
While Charismatic is known as the horse that made it big from claimers, he's also known as the horse that Chris Antley saved in the Belmont Stakes. While the horse finished third in the race, he was immediately retired with a broken leg.
Charismatic retired with a record of 17-5-2-4 and earnings of $2,038,064 with three graded stakes wins. He currently stands in Japan.
Bob Baffert returns to the slideshow with the first Triple Crown contender of the 2000s. War Emblem's story is a bit controversial, as he was bought after his G2 Illinois Derby win and shipped to Baffert less than a month before the Kentucky Derby.
However, while the horse did win the G2 Illinois Derby while in another trainer's barn, he couldn't hit the board in his two other stakes attempts before Baffert got him.
War Emblem went on to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown before tiring out in the Belmont to finish eighth in the field of 11. The big black colt went on to win the G1 Haskel Invitational two months later before ending on a low note with two off the board finishes in Grade 1 races later that year.
He had a short career with only 13 races, but won seven of those times. The Our Emblem son was an all-or-nothing type of horse, never hitting the board in his other starts but earning $3,491,000 along the way.
War Emblem was sent to stud in Japan but has had breeding issues that has limited his foal's crops since his retirement.
It's finally time to get to the loveable New York gelding Funny Cide.
Funny Cide came to the 2003 Kentucky Derby with a short resume, only coming in with two stakes wins, both in ungraded stakes. However, the gutsy gelding did finish second in two graded stakes races to stamp his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
Funny Cide won the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths before coming back two weeks later to romp in the Preakness by over nine lengths. He would finish third in the Belmont and go winless in two races the rest of the year before winning an allowance in January of the next season.
The Distorted Humor son continued to show his talent until he was retired in 2007 after a win in the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap. However, his biggest win post-Triple Crown was the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup as a four-year-old.
Funny Cide retired with a record of 38-11-6-8 for earnings of $3,529,412. His trainer Barclay Tagg tried to turn the gelding into a pony, but when he didn't take to the new job, he was retired to the Kentucky Horse Park where he now resides.
Smarty Jones had the honor of going into the Triple Crown undefeated after winning his first six starts, including the G2 Arkansas Derby.
However, like Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby wouldn't be Smarty's defining moment as he would romp home 11 1/2 lengths in front in the Preakness Stakes. The colt would finish second by a length in the Belmont to end his Triple Crown hopes, eight lengths in front of the third place horse.
While Smarty came into the Triple Crown undefeated, he only had one graded stakes win to his name before the series, winning four ungraded stakes in his career. The colt was retired after the Belmont Stakes with a record of 9-8-1-0 for $7,613,155.
He currently stands in Pennsylvania, moving there in 2010 after starting his career at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
The last colt to attempt the Triple Crown was the big bay Big Brown.
Like Smarty Jones, Big Brown came into the Triple Crown undefeated with only one graded stakes win to his credit. However, that win was a five length romp in the G1 Florida Derby.
Big Brown seemed to have the Belmont Stakes in the bag before the race, winning the Preakness under wraps three weeks before but the colt was pulled up in the stretch when jockey Kent Desormeaux felt that something was off with the horse.
However, after his failed attempt, Big Brown would return two months later to win the G1 Haskell Invitational by 1 3/4 lengths. His last race would be a win on the grass in the ungraded Monmouth Stakes in September of his three-year-old year. It would be the first time the horse had raced on the grass since his maiden win over a year earlier.
Big Brown retired with a record of 8-7-0-0 for earnings of $3,614,500. His record includes victories in four grade one events. The stallion now stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.