Saturday's running of the Belmont Stakes will be yet another attempt at breaking the current 30 year drought of Triple Crown near-misses.
This time, Big Brown takes his shot at a field of nine other seemingly over-matched opponents. Big Brown comes into the Belmont with a life-time record of 5-0, with no horse coming within 4 and 3/4 lengths of the big bay colt.
Even with Big Brown's domination of this years three year old crop, a word of caution goes out to those ready to crown Brown as a champion: remember Smarty Jones and Real Quiet.
Of course, there have been plenty of other near misses as well -- Afleet Alex, Point Given, War Emblem, Charismatic, Silver Charm, Sunday Silence, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, etc.
But Smarty Jones and Real Quiet's attempts at history has a certain ironic similarity to Big Browns.
In the 1998 Belmont, Real Quiet was leading late into the stretch, when a late-charging Victory Gallop caught him by a nose in a photo-finish. Two things to note:
Real Quiet was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the jockey aboard Big Brown.
Victory Gallop is the sire of Anak Nakal, a stretch running horse entered in this years Belmont Stakes.
Like Real Quiet, Smarty Jones was leading into the deep stretch of the 2004 Belmont when Birdstone came charging late, beating Smarty and ending his Triple Crown bid.
Birdstone was trained by Nick Zito, who also happens to be the trainer of Anak Nakal.
Isn't it great when history aligns itself so perfectly? Sure, Big Brown seems head and shoulders above not only Anak Nakal, but every other three year old in the world.
But as history has taught us, corronating a horse before he runs the mile and a half can be foolish indeed.