Updated Blog: Top 5 Horses to Never Win the Kentucky Derby

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D.S. Williamson

March 28th, 2017

After Arrogate's unbelievable Dubai World Cup win this past Saturday, I must update my Top 5 Horses to Never Win the Kentucky Derby blog that I wrote a couple of years ago. Arrogate immediately goes to the top of the list. I also set up a major parameter. I only added horses that made an impact in their sophomore year. Any horse that didn't have an impact as a three-year-old didn't make the list.



The Bob Baffert trainee is one of the best racehorses I've ever seen. I'm convinced after watching him break poorly, 10 lengths behind the other runners in the Dubai World Cup, and still win going away. They weren't blazing up front. Long River and Gun Runner got the first quarter in 24.8. That's slow for horses looking to win a $10 million dollar race. Arrogate went wide around the final turn. He just exploded to get past Gun Runner before jockey Mike Smith took it easy on him right before the wire.

Arrogate is already one of the greatest racehorses to ever run. 2016's Breeders' Cup Classic winner is a verifiable legend.


The only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic shocked 6/5 favorite Fusaichi Pegasus, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Aidan O'Brien monster Giant's Causeway in the 2000 BC Classic. Tiznow didn't even win a stakes race until after the Triple Crown had taken place. No matter. He was still the best three-year-old, heck, the best horse that year. That was some field that Tiznow beat in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic. In addition to Giant's Causeway and Fusaichi Pegasus, the field also included Albert the Great, 1999 BC Classic winner Cat Thief, Dubai World Cup winner Captain Steve, and Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid.


2007 was a fantastic year for three-year-olds. Street Sense became the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner to take home the Kentucky Derby. Hard Spun had a major impact in all three Triple Crown races. Derby third place fiisher Curlin won the Preakness and got edged out by filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont. Curlin wasn't supposed to win the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic. Lawyer Ron and Any Given Saturday went off as co-favorites at 7/2. But, Curlin came barreling down the lane to put an exclamation point on an incredible three-year-old year.

Risen Star

Man, Secretariat's son was close to winning the Triple Crown in 1988! With a better trip in the Derby that year, jockey Eddie Delahoussaye may have gotten Risen Star to the finish line first. The other jockeys, Pat Day aboard Forty Niner, and Eddie D aboard Risen Star, allowed Gary Stevens to coast on the lead with Winning Colors. Neither Eddie D. nor Day were going to let Stevens coast to an easy win on the lead in the Preakness. Day pushed Winning Colors wide around the first turn. Eddie D. took the lead when the opportunity presented itself. Risen Star would go on to win the Belmont Stakes.

Afleet Alex

Most look to Spectacular Bid or Sunday Silence as horses that should have won the Triple Crown but didn't. Not me. I believe Afleet Alex had Triple Crown written all over him. He fell on his nose in the Preakness and still managed to win. He dominated his competition in the Belmont Stakes, the race that I've added here. A Kentucky Derby win would have sealed the Crown for one of my favorite horses of all time.

But, a Triple Crown win wasn't meant to be. Instead, Afleet Alex, who finished third, lost to Giacomo and Closing Argument in the 2005 Run for the Roses. Giacomo would go on to win one other race during his career, the G2 San Diego Handicap in 2006. Closing Argument finished 9th in the Preakness and was subsequently retired.