Since 1978 11 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and attempted to win the triple crown. Not one has succeeded. This is the longest streak since a 35-year stretch between Citation in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973. Seven horses won the Triple Crown between Gallant Fox becoming the second horse to capture the crown jewels of horse racing and Citation.
With his withdrawal from the Belmont, I’ll Have Another is the 12th horse since Affirmed’s 1978 Triple Crown to win the first two legs of horse racing’s crown jewel and fail to win the Belmont. Each of the 12 horses had its own unique journey in their three-year-old seasons. Here is a look at each with all three of their races.
After being named the Two-Year-Old Horse of the Year in 1978 and coming off the heels of two straight triple crown winners, a lot was expected of the bid. He won the Derby by 2 ¾ lengths.
At the Preakness, Spectacular Bid was installed as the 1-10 favorite. He cruised to a 5 ½-length victory and it was on to Belmont and what everyone assumed was a date with history.
On the eve of the Belmont, Spectacular Bid stepped on a safety pin. The pin became embedded in his foot and later caused an injury. He was the prohibitive favorite to cruise home with the triple crown. However, after initially running with the lead, he faded to third. Coastal won the Belmont over Preakness runner-up Golden Act.
Pleasant Colony went off at 7-2 odds to win the 1981 Kentucky Derby. He held off Woodchopper down the stretch to win the Run for The Roses by ¾ of a length.
Pleasant Colony entered the Preakness as the 3-2 morning line favorite. He came from behind to defeat speed horse Arkansas Derby winner Bold Ego by a length.
In the Belmont, Pleasant Colony finished third, falling to an almost 8-1 Summing.
Alysheba paid $18.80 in winning the 1987 Kentucky Derby. He outlasted Bet Twice after they collided at the top of the stretch.
Alysheba was the morning line 2-1 favorite at the Preakness. He didn’t disappoint, winning the Preakness by two lengths to enter the Belmont with a chance to become the first triple crown winner in nine years. Sired out of the only triple crown place horse Alydar, Alysheba was hoping to become immortal.
He faded to fourth in New York as Bet Twice won the Belmont by 14 lengths.
Alysheba did come back to win the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Sunday Silence was the fourth horse in the 11 years since Affirmed last won the triple crown to enter the Belmont with a chance to become horse racing’s 12th triple crown winner.
Although not the morning line favorite, Sunday Silence went off at just over 3-1 in the Kentucky Derby. He pulled away down the stretch to win by 2.5 lengths.
Off his win in Louisville, Sunday Silence entered the Preakness as the 2-1 favorite. In what many call the “Race of the Century” Sunday Silence captured the Preakness by a nose to set up a third showdown at the Belmont.
For the fourth straight time, the Horse that captured the first two legs of the triple crown lost in New York. Easy Goer avenged his losses in the first two legs of the triple crown to defeat Sunday Silence by eight lengths.
It would be eight more years before a horse won the first two legs of the triple crown.
In the interim, three horses did win two of the three legs of the triple crown. Hansel won the Preakness and the Belmont in 1991, Tabasco Cat duplicated that feat three years later and Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont in 1995.
Silver Charm entered the Kentucky Derby at 5-1 odds. He won by a head over Captain Bodgit.
Despite winning the Derby, Silver Charm entered the Preakness as just the third morning line favorite in a 10-horse field. Captain Bodgit at 2.1-1 and Free House and 2.4-1 were favored ahead of Silver Charm at 3.1 to 1. Silver Charm edged both Captain Bodgit and Free House by a head to attempt his date with destiny in New York.
Silver Charm looked like he was going to claim the first Triple Crown in 19 years as he headed down the backstretch with the lead and pulling away from Free House. Touch Gold came from 10 lengths off the pace to crash Silver Charm’s party.
A year after winning the first two legs of the triple crown with Silver Charm, trainer Bob Baffert stood only one win away from the triple crown with Real Quiet. He is the only trainer to ever win the first two legs of the triple crown in back-to-back years.
Real Quiet went off as the fourth favorite at 9-1 in the Kentucky Derby. He won by a half length over Victory Gallop to pay $18.80. Coupled with Victory Gallop, the exacta paid $291.80 and the trifecta with the show horse Indian Charlie paid $1,221.
Real Quiet entered the Preakness as the 2-1 morning line favorite. He did not disappoint the Baltimore crowd. He again beat Victory Gallop by 2 ¼ lengths. This set up one of the most dramatic showdowns in triple crown history.
In the Belmont Real Quiet pulled away at the top of the stretch, gaining a 3 ½-length lead. Victory Gallop staged an incredible run to win by a nose in a photo finish. It was so close that no one seemed to know who won until the “photo finish” was produced. The race is also known for what could have been. Victory Gallop’s jockey, Gary Stevens, was going to claim a foul on Real Quiet down the stretch for getting bumped. Baffert was not very optimistic that the result would go in his favor.
Charismatic became the third horse in as many years to capture the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
This was only the second time that one horse won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in three successive years; the first time occurred from 1977-79. Seattle Slew and Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1977 and 1978, respectively, and Spectacular Bid won the Derby and Preakness in 1979.
Charismatic went off at odds of 31-1 in the 1999 Kentucky Derby. By capturing the Derby, Charismatic became, at the time, the third-longest shot to win the Derby. Only Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009 have since had longer odds, and only two horses went off with longer odds to win in 1999.
In spite of his win at the Derby, Charismatic was still not the favorite. Going off at 8-1, Charismatic paid $18.80 to win and set up a chance to become the most impossible Triple Crown winner to date.
Entering the Belmont as the 2-1 favorite, Charismatic was poised to become the first Triple Crown winner in 21 years after taking the lead in the final furlong. Lemon Drop Kid spoiled Charismatic's party, though, taking over with one-eighth of a mile remaining.
After fading to third, jockey Chris Antley jumped off Charismatic shortly after the finish line to hold up his front leg. It later came to light that Antley felt a break in the final furlong and eased Charismatic up. His action likely saved Charismatic's life.
Three different horses would claim the horse racing's crown jewels in 2000. Point Given won the Preakness and the Belmont in 2001, and War Emblem began another three-year stretch of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners.
War Emblem entered the 2002 Kentucky Derby with eight horses favored ahead of him, and h won the race by four lengths over Proud Citizen.
With both horses going off at odds over 20-1, the exacta paid $1,300.80. Adding in the show horse, Perfect Drift, the trifecta paid $18,373.20.
War Emblem went off as the early line favorite of just under 3-1, besting Megadlia d'Oro. He beat long shot Magic Weisner by three-fourths of a length, and Proud Citizen finished third.
War Emblem faltered down the stretch and finished eighth, 30-plus lengths behind long shot Sarava. At 70-1, Sarava is the biggest underdog to win the Belmont.
Funny Cide might be the most unlikely of the 11 horses that have attempted to win the Triple Crown in the Belmont in the 34 years since our last Triple Crown winner. He is the only Gelding in the last 83 years to win the Derby.
Funny Cide went off at odds just under 13-1. He defeated the favorite, Empire Maker, by 1.75 lengths and second favorite Peace Rules in the Kentucky Derby.
Funny Cide entered the Preakness as the favorite, just under 2-1. He dominated the Preakness winning by 9.75 lengths to post the second-biggest Preakness win in history.
With the convincing win in Baltimore, New York-bred Funny Cide earned a return trip home for his chance at history.
Funny Cide entered the Preakness as the favorite just under 2-1. He dominated the Preakness, winning by 9.75 lengths to post the second-biggest Preakness win in history.
With the convincing win in Baltimore, New York-bred Funny Cide earned a return trip home for his chance at history.
Smarty Jones' win in 2004 Kentucky Derby made him the first undefeated Derby champion since Seattle Slew. He was the morning line favorite at just over 4-1, and he finished 2.75 lengths ahead of Lionheart to capture the Derby.
Smarty Jones entered the Preakness as a better than 2-1 favorite.
He dominated the Preakness, closing down the stretch and racing to an 11.5-length win over Rock Hard Ten.
Entering the Belmont, Smarty Jones was becoming one of the most popular horses in thoroughbred history.
The ratings through the first two legs of the Triple Crown were the highest in 14 years, and attendance increased at both the Belmont and the Preakness. The Preakness' betting pool set a record at $59 million, and that doubled at the Belmont.
Smarty Jones had the lead as the race turned for home. He seemed to tire down the stretch, though, and finished second behind 36-1 long shot Birdstone.
Smarty Jones would retire later that summer. In nine career starts, he finished with eight victories and one place.
Four years after Smarty Jones failed in his quest to capture the extremely elusive Triple Crown, it was Big Brown's turn for a chance at horse racing immortality.
Like Smarty Jones, Big Brown entered his three-year-old season undefeated. He was installed as the Kentucky Derby's 2-1 morning line favorite; he took the lead on the final turn and won the Derby by five lengths over Filly Eight Belles.
After fracturing both ankles immediately after the finish line, Eight Belles had to be euthanized on the track.
Big Brown entered the Preakness as the prohibitive 1-5 favorite. Gayego was the only other horse in a 12-horse field to have odds in the single digits; he went off as the 9-1 second favorite.
Big Brown won the race by 5.25 lengths over Macho Again. He closed very strong to set up his date with history at the Belmont, and his win at the Preakness made him only the fifth horse in history to remain undefeated through the Preakness.
On the the Friday after the Preakness, Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, discovered a three-inch quarter crack in his left front hoof. Dutrow claimed it was not a big deal, and the crack was stitched together with steel wire. Big Brown would later receive sutures and a fiberglass patch on his hoof.
In spite of the injury, he went off as the 3-10 favorite. Big Brown had a very uneven ride and became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finish last in the Belmont. Jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled him up down the stretch, and it was later revealed that Big Brown's shoe on his right hind leg became dislodged.
Da'Tara, a 38-1 long shot, won the Belmont; he won by 5.25 lengths.
I'll Have Another entered the Kentucky Derby with 15-1 odds. Jockey Mario Gutierrez, in his first Triple Crown race, produced a strong stretch run and caught favorite Bodemeister to win by 1.5 lengths.
Bodemeister was again installed as the favorite at the Preakness, this time at 8-5. I'll Have Another was the second favorite at 3-1, and he again caught Bodemeister in the stretch, this time winning by a neck.
Bodemeister's team announced he was would not race in the Belmont. This seemed to give I'll Have Another a tremendous chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.
However, on the eve of the Belmont, it was announced that a swollen left front tendon was ending I'll Have Another's career immediately.