Horses In History: The Years Without a Triple Crown (Part II)

We’re continuing our look back at the history of the Triple Crown by examining the years — like this one — where a different horse won each leg. Pick up at 1983 here!

A.P. Indy, winner of the 1992 Belmont Stakes. Wikimedia Commons/Jlvsclrk/CC

The names of the 12 Triple Crown winners are seemingly etched into our memories — few of us can forget those horses who stood up to American horse racing’s true test and captured the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. I’m willing to bet that most of us will also remember at least a few Triple Crown “near-misses” — a standout colt that won the Derby and the Preakness only to be nipped in the Belmont (for me, a Philadelphia girl, it’s Smarty Jones that still makes my heart hurt a little).

Less likely to stand out in memory, however, but equally possessing its own fascinating stories are the years in which a different horse wins each of the three jewels of horse racing’s challenge. We’ve gone back in history to take a look at the Triple Crown in a new light, all the way back to the 1930s when the concept of the Triple Crown was first conceived by turf writers. In 1930, Gallant Fox would win all three races, and decades’ worth of hopes and dreams were launched.

If you missed Part I (1933-1982), click here to catch up!

1983: Sunny’s Halo, Deputed Testamony and Caveat

Sunny’s Halo won a star-studded 1983 Kentucky Derby, but developed some health issues that affected his Preakness performance. Deputed Testamony, who had skipped the Derby, took the Preakness Stakes instead as a Maryland-bred. Sunny’s Halo did not contest the Belmont, and Deputed Testamony finished sixth to Caveat in the Belmont Stakes; Caveat had run the Derby but not the Preakness.

1985: Spend A Buck, Tank’s Prospect and Creme Fraiche

When Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck intentionally skipped the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to chase a $2 million bonus from Garden State Racetrack, his connections inadvertently changed the scope of the three races — the Triple Crown decided to put up its own bonus to encourage more horses to race in all three legs. Tank’s Prospect, the seventh-place Derby horse, won the Preakness by a head over the favorite Chief’s Crown; Tank’s Prospect broke down at the top of the stretch in the Belmont Stakes but survived to stand at stud. Creme Fraiche took the Belmont, becoming the first gelding to win.

1986: Ferdinand, Snow Chief and Danzig Connection

Ferdinand won the Kentucky Derby and then finished second and third in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes respectively; he was conquered in the Preakness by Snow Chief who won by four lengths after an eleventh-place finish in the Derby. Snow Chief skipped the Belmont, which was won by new shooter and long shot Danzig Connection.

1990: Unbridled, Summer Squall and Go And Go

1990 will be remembered as the year of the great rivalry between Unbridled and Summer Squall, running one-two in Derby prep races. Unbridled got the better of Summer Squall in the Kentucky Derby, but Summer Squall turned the tables in the Preakness Stakes. Summer Squall was reliant on Lasix to prevent bleeding, which was banned in New York at the time of the Belmont Stakes, so the colt skipped the race; Unbridled finished fourth to the Irish-based new shooter Go And Go.

1992: Lil E. Tee, Pine Bluff and A.P. Indy

Lil E. Tee was certainly not “supposed” to be a Derby winner, having sold for just $2,000 as a yearling and later deemed unsaleable by another auction company. He bested the much-touted European-bred Arazi in the Kentucky Derby and finished fifth in the Preakness before sitting out the Belmont with a lung infection. Pine Bluff, who had finished a fading fifth in the Derby, went in as the Preakness favorite and won; later, he finished third in the Belmont. The final leg was won easily by A.P. Indy, who had been forced to sit out the Derby and Preakness with a bone bruise. A.P. Indy is now hailed as an influential sire, and we will always wonder what might have been if he were able to run the entire Triple Crown.

1993: Sea Hero, Prairie Bayou and Colonial Affair

Sea Hero pulled off an upset victory in the 1993 Kentucky Derby over favorite Prairie Bayou; Sea Hero ran in all three legs but was unable to repeat his win. Prairie Bayou with Mike Smith aboard won the Preakness Stakes with a sweeping late close, but tragically broke down in the Belmont Stakes and was euthanized. Colonial Affair, a relative long shot, won the Belmont, piloted famously by Julie Krone who became the first female jockey to win that race.

1996: Grindstone, Louis Quatorze and Editor’s Note

Grindstone had the makings of a champion when he won the Kentucky Derby, but when chips were discovered in his knee just a few days after his victory he was retired to stud. Louis Quatorze, who had finished in the back of the field in the Derby, changed racing tactics and won the Preakness Stakes wire to wire. He was unable to repeat the performance in the Belmont Stakes, however, which was won by Editor’s Note after the famous stretch duel with Skip Away.

2000: Fusaichi Pegasus, Red Bullet and Commendable

Fusaichi Pegasus was the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby and did so, but he was beaten in the Preakness Stakes by a fresh Red Bullet. Both Fusaichi Pegasus and Red Bullet sat out the Belmont, leaving the door open for Commendable to shine. Commendable had finished 17th of 19 horses in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness Stakes.

2006: Barbaro, Bernardini and Jazil

The brilliant but ultimately ill-fated Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby to great acclaim in 2006, but shattered a hind leg in the Preakness Stakes and battled for months for his life, first with surgery to repair the broken leg and then with supporting-limb laminitis which ultimately would lead to his euthanasia. Bernardini, who had not run in the Derby, won the Preakness by more than five lengths, and then skipped the Belmont Stakes. Jazil, who had finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Derby and skipped the Preakness, brought home the Belmont win.

2007: Street Sense, Curlin and Rags to Riches

Street Sense became the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to also conquer the Kentucky Derby, but he lost the Preakness by a nose to superhorse Curlin. The great Curlin, however, was bested in a thrilling stretch duel in the Belmont Stakes by the filly Rags to Riches, who became the first Belmont-winning filly in over a century.

2009: Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra and Summer Bird

Mine That Bird’s famous long shot victory in the Kentucky Derby is still studied as the ultimate lucky rail trip and has also been immortalized on the big screen in the film 50-1. Winning jockey Calvin Borel, however, opted to give up the ride on Mine That Bird in the Preakness in order to pilot the superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, who had won the Kentucky Oaks. Rachel Alexandra won the second jewel of the Triple Crown despite a late bid by Mine That Bird. Summer Bird, a Derby runner who sat out the Preakness, upset favorite Mine That Bird for the Belmont Stakes.

2010: Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky and Drosselmeyer

Super Saver’s Kentucky Derby win would be his last victory; the colt performed poorly in the Preakness Stakes and ran only in the Haskell Invitational in the summer before being retired to stud with bone bruising. Lookin At Lucky, the juvenile champion from the previous year, won the Preakness as the favorite under a new ride and then sat out the Belmont Stakes. Drosselmeyer, who had not qualified for the Derby, bounced back from sore frogs to win the Belmont.

2011: Animal Kingdom, Shackleford and Ruler On Ice

Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby despite plenty of reasons not to: it was the colt’s first race under John Velazquez and his first start on dirt with only four career starts prior. His closing style couldn’t quite catch Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes, however, and a rough start in the Belmont gave him too much ground to make up. Shackleford led the race in the slop for the first mile before fading, allowing long-shot gelding Ruler On Ice to score his only major graded stakes win.

2013: Orb, Oxbow and Palace Malice

Orb was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby and won commandingly; however, he never threatened in the Preakness Stakes and lost to long-shot Oxbow, who had finished sixth in the Derby. Palace Malice, who had set “suicidal” fractions in the Derby before being overtaken in the stretch, had skipped the Preakness and came back to win the Belmont Stakes, putting away both Orb and Oxbow.

2016: Nyquist, Exaggerator and Creator

Nyquist, the American juvenile champion, was the heavy favorite going into the Triple Crown and won the Derby easily; Exaggerator, the Derby runner-up, turned the tables in a sloppy Preakness and took the win. Nyquist skipped the Belmont after running a fever, and Exaggerator ran a poor race; the Belmont was won by Creator who had finished thirteenth in the Kentucky Derby.

2017: Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing and…

Who will capture the Belmont Stakes this year? Keep it locked on Horse Nation next week for plenty of field analysis and race coverage!

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