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Triple Crown Near Misses


Big Brown

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown in 2008 was the latest to go for the Triple Crown only to lose the Belmont Stakes.

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated May 28, 2009

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, did not take shape as a recognizable series of races until 1930. It was then that Daily Racing Form writer Charles Hatton coined the phrase "Triple Crown" in describing Gallant Fox's victories in those three races.

The Kentucky Derby is a 1 1/4 mile thoroughbred horse race for 3-year-olds run on the first Saturday of May each year at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky along with the Kentucky Oaks since 1875. It is the first race of the Triple Crown followed two Saturdays later by the Preakness Stakes and three weeks later, the Belmont Stakes.

The Preakness Stakes is a classic 1 3/16 mile race for 3-year-olds, held on the third Saturday in May of each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness is the second and shortest leg in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few new shooters. The Preakness is famous for its house horse, a local Maryland bred and run horse that skips the Derby. Two years before the Kentucky Derby was run for the first time, Pimlico introduced the Preakness during its first-ever spring race meet in 1873. Governor Bowie had named the mile and one-half race in honor of Dinner Party Stakes winner, Preakness.

The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, is a 1-1/2 mile race for 3-year-olds. Because of its length, and because it is the last part of the Triple Crown, it is sometimes called the Test of Champions. Most 3-year-olds are unaccustomed to the distance and lack the ability to maintain a winning speed for so long. The Belmont Stakes was named after financier and sportsman August Belmont, Sr. The race was first run in 1867 and it has been run at Belmont Park since 1905. The first post parade in the United States was at the 14th Belmont in 1880. The race distance has varied: from 1867 until 1873, it was 1 5/8 miles. In 1874 the distance was reduced to 1-1/2 miles, and from 1890 to 1892, and in 1895, the distance was 1 1/4 miles. From 1896 until 1925, the distance was increased to the original 1 5/8 miles. In 1926, the race distance was set at the present 1-1/2 miles

11 horses have won all three races and making them Triple Crown champions. Eleven horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. 18 horses have won the Preakness and the Belmont, but 7 of those horses did not start in the Kentucky Derby during the pre-Triple Crown era. Of the 32 horses who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, 2 of them did not run in the Belmont Stakes. Here are their stories.

Kentucky Derby/Preakness Winners through 1979
Kentucky Derby/Preakness Winners 1980-2008
Preakness/Belmont Stakes Winners
Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes Winners

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