Belmont Stakes: Top 5 That Failed

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

June 5th, 2018

The 2018 Belmont Stakes takes place this Saturday on June 9. Justify has a chance to win the Belmont Stakes and become the thirteenth Triple Crown winner. Justify is such a huge favorite that his future betting odds are at around 4/5.

But, winning the Belmont Stakes has never been a lock. 23 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness to lose the Belmont. Below, I've listed the Top 5 Belmont failures. In making this list, I've left off any runner, like I'll Have Another in 2013, who didn't win the Belmont due to either injury or some other strange occurrence. I've also left off horses like Funny Cide who didn't figure to win the Belmont Stakes.

Check out the list!

Belmont Stakes:  Top 5 That Failed

1.  Tim Tam, 1958

In 1958, Tim Tam had won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He entered the Belmont as a less than even money favorite to win the Test of Champions. Cavan exploded in the stretch and beat Tim Tam by 6 lengths. Tim Tam ran well in defeat. He was over 5 lengths ahead of the third place horse. But, the son of the great Tom Fool couldn't close the deal on a Triple Crown victory.

2. Sunday Silence, 1989

I thought Sunday Silence had it. Jockey Patrick Valenzuela parked Sunday Silence in the catbird seat for most of the race. Then, as they hit the turn, Sunday Silence began to speed up just a bit. P Val always kept Sunday Silence ahead of Easy Goer until Pat Day pushed the button on Easy Goer. Easy Goer was just too much horse that day.

3. Silver Charm, 1997

Article Image
Bob Baffert's first Triple Crown try was in 1997 with Silver Charm. Charm earned his way to his Belmont Stakes Triple Crown bid. He beat Captain Bodgit, Free House, and Pulpit in one of the deepest Kentucky Derbies, maybe, in history. Then, he beat Bodgit and Free House in a 3 horse photo in the Preakness Stakes.

Who beat Silver Charm to end Baffert's first Triple Crown chance? A horse that hadn't run in the Derby and that had finished fourth behind Charm, Free House and Bodgit in the Preakness, Touch Gold. Silver Charm didn't see Touch Gold. He thought he had the race won.

4. Real Quiet, 1998

Bob Baffert returned to New York in 1998 with Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet. Real Quiet had the Belmont Stakes. He had it. The thing that stopped him was Victory Gallop getting his nose down at the wire before Real Quiet did. Just a nose.

Gary Stevens rode Victory Gallop to his win over Real Quiet. Stevens rode Silver Charm to an almost Belmont win in 1997. That's called irony.

5. Smarty Jones, 2004

Smarty Jones was so popular that he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the Belmont
Stakes. He, like Real Quiet, had the Test of Champions won. It turned out that Birdstone was just slightly better at 1 1/2 miles than Smarty Jones. Even if Stewart Elliott had waited to move Smarty, would have mattered? Maybe. Maybe, not.

The 5 Belmont losers above prove one thing:  there's a reason only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown in 99 years of running all 3 Triple Crown races. It's not easy to win the Crown.

If Justify wins the Triple Crown, like American Pharoah he will have earned it. The Belmont Stakes will be Justify's sixth race since February 18. That's a lot for non 3-year-olds who won't have win a race at 1 1/2 miles. History shows that winning the Belmont isn't easy.

If Justify wins on Saturday, he'll prove that he's one of the best 3-year-olds to ever run.