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Justify’s Quest for Glory: A Look at the History of the Triple Crown

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This Saturday Justify will attempt to achieve horse racing immortality and become the 13th Triple Crown winner in racing history. In 2015 another Bob Baffert trained colt, American Pharoah, ended a 37 year Triple Crown drought as he went wire to wire to become the 12th Triple Crown winner. Let’s take a look back at the past Triple Crown Winners, and also some of the near misses.

2018 Belmont Stakes Wagering Guide

Triple Crown Winners

There have been only 12 Triple Crown winners, and just one since 1978. Justify can become the 13th horse to join this list, and trainer Bob Baffert can become only the second trainer ever to win the Triple Crown with two different horses. Will Justify join this prestigious list?

Year WinnerTrainer Jockey Owner Breeder
2015American Pharoah Bob Baffert Victor Espinoza Zayat Stables Zayat Stables
1978Affirmed Laz Barrera Steve CauthenHarbor View FarmHarbor View Farm
1977Seattle Slew William H. Turner, Jr.Jean CruguetKaren L. TaylorBen S. Castleman
1973SecretariatLucien LaurinRon TurcotteMeadow StableMeadow Stable
1948Citation Horace A. JonesEddie ArcaroCalumet FarmCalumet Farm
1946Assault Max HirschWarren MehrtensKing RanchKing Ranch
1943Count Fleet Don CameronJohnny LongdenFannie HertzFannie Hertz
1941Whirlaway Ben A. JonesEddie ArcaroCalumet FarmCalumet Farm
1937War Admiral George H. ConwayCharley KurtsingerSamuel D. RiddleSamuel D. Riddle
1935Omaha Jim FitzsimmonsWillie SaundersBelair StudBelair Stud
1930Gallant Fox Jim FitzsimmonsEarl SandeBelair StudBelair Stud
1919Sir Barton H. Guy BedwellJohnny LoftusJ. K. L. RossJohn E. Madden

Near Misses at Belmont

The Belmont Stakes has claimed many victims during its 150 year history. Perhaps one of the most rememberable Triple Crown losses of all time was Smarty Jones in 2004. It was almost a forgone conclusion that the fan favorite was going to win the race, but was defeated by Birdstone, who passed Smarty Jones just a few yards from the wire. Big Brown was another recent flop who was thought to be a lock coming into the race, but was eased on the final turned. Justify will hope to avoid this list which includes so many great horses who just fell short.

Year Horse Belmont Finish
2014California Chrome 4th
2012I'll Have Another Did Not Start
2008Big Brown Did Not Finish
2004Smarty Jones 2nd
2003Funny Cide 3rd
2002War Emblem 8th
1999Charismatic3rd
1998Real Quiet 2nd
1997Silver Charm 2nd
1989Sunday Silence 2nd
1987Alysheba 4th
1981Pleasant Colony 3rd
1979Spectacular Bid 3rd
1971Canonero II4th
1969Majestic Prince 2nd
1968Forward Pass 2nd
1966Kauai King4th
1964Northern Dancer 3rd
1961Carry Back 7th
1958Tim Tam 2nd
1944Pensive 2nd
1936Bold Venture Did Not Start
1932Burgoo King Did Not Start

Near Misses in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness

Sometimes it’s the other two legs of the Triple Crown that trips horses up. The most recent example is Afleet Alex who came to Belmont and dominated in 2005, and won the Preakness despite nearly falling down at the top of the stretch after clipping heels. However, his Kentucky Derby day was disappointing as he finished third to long shot Giacomo. Point Given also comes to mind as a horse who just couldn’t get its done beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs, but went on to be the best horse in the crop with wins in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Here are the list of horses who just missed out on the Triple Crown because of Kentucky Derby or Preakness losses.

Year Horse Reason Unsuccessful
2005Afleet Alex 3rd in the Derby
2001Point Given 5th in the Derby
1995Thunder Gulch 3rd in the Preakness
1994Tabasco Cat 6th in the Derby
1991Hansel 10th in the Derby
1988Risen Star 3rd in the Derby
1984Swale 7th in the Preakness
1976Bold Forbes 3rd in the Preakness
1974Little Current 2nd in the Derby
1972Riva Ridge 4th in the Preakness
1967Damascus 3rd in the Derby
1963Chateaugay2nd in the Preakness
1956Needles 2nd in the Preakness
1955Nashua2nd in the Preakness
1953Native Dancer 2nd in the Derby
1950Middleground2nd in the Preakness
1949Capot 2nd in the Derby
1942Shut Out 5th in the Preakness
1940Bimelech2nd in the Derby
1939Johnstown5th in the Preakness
1931Twenty Grand 2nd in the Preakness
1923Zev12th in the Preakness
1922Pillory Did not start in Derby
1920Man o’ WarDid not start in Derby
1895Belmar Did not start in Derby
1881SauntererDid not start in Derby
1880GrenadaDid not start in Derby
1878Duke of MagentaDid not start in Derby
1877Cloverbrook Did not start in Derby

Justify will look to make history this Saturday at Belmont Park. Will he be become the 13th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history, or will he find himself on the “near misses” list after the race is over? Tune in Saturday to find out, and remember to check out the Racing Dudes for wall to wall coverage throughout the week, as well as the day of the race, and all the fallout after the race!

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