The elusive Triple Crown; The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes, has not been won in the U.S since the great Affirmed in 1978. This year another champion lines up at Belmont Park seeking the ultimate prize but does I'LL HAVE ANOTHER have what it takes to write his name in the history books. Only time will tell, so in the meantime let's look at some of those who recently failed in the 'Test of Champions.’
Dermot O'Connell reviews those that have come close to racing immortality, The Triple Crown, only to fall at the last hurdle, The Belmont Stakes.
|So close, yet so far. Big Brown finished stone last in the Belmont|
There's no doubt that Big Brown was a champion. He went to the Kentucky Derby with just two runs under his belt, was drawn in barrier 20 (only 1 horse had won from that draw in history) but he was still the 2/1 favourite. He dominated the race, winning by almost 5 lengths and went to the Preakness a solid 1/5 chance. Coming from off the pace he exploded past the leaders and won easing up by just over 5 lengths.
Undefeated coming to New York, Big Brown looked a certainty. However, the race went wrong from the start. Fighting for his head, he was shifted from the rail to race wide but when his jockey asked for an effort at the half-mile post there was no response. Da'Tara had jumped out in the lead and cleared away to win by 5 lengths while Big Brown was eased in the final straight and finished stone last, dreams of the Triple Crown were shattered! The winner had finished 23 lengths behind Big Brown in the Florida Derby.
Smarty Jones (2004)
Another who was unbeaten coming to Belmont after winning at Churchill Downs on a sloppy track and cruising home in the Preakness by a record 11.5 lengths, he took on eight rivals in the final leg. Preakness runner up, Rock Hard Ten set a frantic pace and 'fell in a hole' leaving Smarty Jones in front with 400m to run. Inside the final 100m he too, started to wobble and 36/1 longshot Birdstone, who had finished 8th in the Derby, passed him in the final strides. Smarty Jones never raced again.
|Smarty Jones (blue silks) finishing 2nd to Bird Stone in the Belmont. His last ever run.|
Funny Cide (2003)
Funny Cide was the first New York-bred gelding to contend for Triple Crown glory. He won the Kentucky Derby beating joint-favourites Peace Rules and Empire Maker, and again dominated Peace Rules in the Preakness, winning by a clear 9 lengths. Empire Maker was rested in the Preakness and came to New York as the main challenger to thwart Funny Cide's dream. On a rain soaked track Funny Cide failed to deliver and was a well-beaten 3rd. As a gelding he went on to race another three seasons, winning 11 races in total.
|War Emblem was no War Admiral|
War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby from tape-to-wire by a comfortable 4 lengths and followed up with a narrow win in the Preakness. In the Belmont he stumbled leaving the stalls and failed to get the lead. Never racing well he ran a dismal eighth behind 70/1 underdog Sarava.
Charismatic was a long-shot in the Kentucky Derby and scrambled home by a neck before winning the Preakness by a more respectable 1.5 lengths. Lemon Drop Kid, who had finished 9th in the Derby, spoiled the show for Charismatic, who suffered a minor injury in the final straight, and still finished a close-up third.
Real Quiet (1998)
Revenge is sweet! Real Quiet's wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes came at the expense of Victory Gallop and the two renewed their rivalry in the Belmont, where Victory Gallop caught Real Quiet on the line to record a short-head win and gain his sweet, sweet revenge.
Tales of woe, sad stories all, but what will happen this coming Saturday. Will I'LL HAVE ANOTHER book his place in racing history or is there a spoiler in the field that will once again cause havoc with the form-book and ensure the dustbins at Belmont Park are filled with losing tickets. With history on their side a small punt on the outsiders may be the most rewarding come Sunday morning (00:40).
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Written by Dermot O'Connell for Hollywoodbets.net and Sporting Post.
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