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Triple Crown Near Misses

Kentucky Derby/Belmont Stakes Winners

By

Thunder Gulch

Thunder Gulch, winner of the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont, at Ashford Stud in Lexington.

© Terence Dulay

This double is not as common, with only eleven horses completing it. Sometimes an injury will knock the Kentucky Derby winner out of the Triple Crown before the Belmont Stakes, or if he loses the Preakness his connections don't even go to the Belmont.

In 1923 Zev won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Queen's County, Lawrence Realization, and a match race against Papyrus, the English Derby winner. He finished a well-beaten 12th in the Preakness to Vigil (3rd Kentucky Derby and bypassed the Belmont.) That year the Preakness was run first, and in between it and the Derby, Zev won the Rainbow Handicap. In between the Derby and the Belmont, he won the Withers Stakes.

In 1931, Twenty Grand began his sophomore year by scoring a 1/2-length victory in the Wood Memorial. The Preakness was run only 7 days later, and after suffering interference Twenty Grand was unable to catch Mate (3rd Kentucky Derby and skipped Belmont) and ran second by 1-1/2 lengths.

In 1939 Johnstown won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Babylon, Richard Johnson, Remsen, Breeders' Futurity, Paumonok, Wood Memorial, Withers, and Dwyer Stakes. After defeating Challedon in the Derby, the two met again in the Preakness. In between the Preakness and Belmont, Johnstown also won the Withers Stakes. Johnstown had the lead in the Preakness on a muddy track, but could not keep it and finished 5th beaten 1-1/4 lengths by Challedon.

In 1942 Shut Out won the Grand Union Hotel, Kentucky Derby, Classic, Belmont, Yankee, Blue Grass, Travers, Wilson, and Laurel Stakes. In the Preakness he ran 5th to Alsab (2nd in Kentucky Derby and Belmont). Alsab won the Withers between the Preakness and Belmont.

In 1950 Middleground won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Hopeful. After meeting Hill Prince (2nd Kentucky Derby, 7th Belmont) in the Wood Memorial and finishing 2nd by 2 lengths, the rivals would go on to battle 4 more times. In the Derby, Middleground beat Hill Prince by 1-1/4 lengths. A week later, Hill Prince defeated Middleground by 1-1/2 lengths in the Withers. Middleground was bumped in the Preakness and chased Hill Prince, but pulled away to win by 5 lengths with Middleground 2nd. In the Belmont, Middleground beat Hill Prince who had run 10 days earlier in the Suburban.

In 1956 Needles was the first Florida-bred Kentucky Derby winner and national champion. Typically closing from 15 lengths or more off the pace, Needles won the Flamingo and the Florida Derby. Favored in the Kentucky Derby, he came from 24 lengths back to win by a length over Fabius. Fabius turned the tables and beat Needles by 1-3/4 lengths in the Preakness.

In 1963 Chateaugay was the champion 3-year old colt. He won the Kentucky Derby by 1-1/4 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by 2-1/2 lengths, but fell to Candy Spots (3rd Kentucky Derby and 2nd Belmont) by 3-1/2 lengths in the Preakness.

In 1972 Riva Ridge won the Hibiscus Stakes, ran 4th in the Everglades, then won the Blue Grass. He won the Kentucky Derby as the favorite by 3-3/4 lengths. In the Preakness, a pouring rainstorm and the mudder Bee Bee Bee conspired to produce a 4th place finish for Riva Ridge. Riva Ridge redeemed himself with a stirring 7-length victory in the Belmont, leading wire-to-wire.

In 1976 Bold Forbes won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes going wire-to-wire. He finished 3rd in the Preakness to Elocutionist (3rd Kentucky Derby bypassed Belmont). He also won the Saratoga Special and the Wood Memorial to become the champion 3-year old. He began his career in Puerto Rico, where he was champion 2-year-old. His Preakness loss was attributed to the furious push Honest Pleasure (2nd Kentucky Derby bypassed Belmont) gave from the start. In the Belmont, he survived was a 3-way photo finish to win.

In 1984 Swale was the champion 3-year old colt. He won the Kentucky Derby by 3-1/4 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by 4 lengths, but finished a well-beaten 7th in the Preakness to Gate Dancer (5th Kentucky Derby and 6th Belmont). Tragedy would strike eight days after winning the Belmont Stakes, when Swale collapsed and died after a morning workout. Swale finished with 14 lifetime starts and 9 wins, only once off the board.

In 1995 Thunder Gulch won the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-year-old male after winning 7 of his 10 starts. He won the Kentucky Derby (10f) and Belmont Stakes(12f), Travers (10f), and Florida Derby (9f). Timber Country, the 2-year old champion, (3rd Kentucky Derby, bypassed Belmont) won the Preakness by 1/2-length. Running fast and free on the outside, Timber Country passed five horses through the turn and homestretch and held on to win by half a length over the resurgent Oliver's Twist, a traffic-plagued long shot. Thunder Gulch, finished a neck behind Oliver's Twist in third.

Introduction
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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