2009 Triple Crown:|
The last triple crown winner was Affirmed-- in 1978.
Another year has gone by without a Triple Crown winner. Big Brown had little to give in the final turn at the Belmont and jockey Kent Desormeux, controversily, pulled the horse back for a last place finish. Da Tara spoiled with the victory in the Belmont Stakes after Big Brown easily won the Preakness story), notching the first 2 legs of the Triple Crown. The horse dominated the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday May 3, 2008 at Churchill Downs. Big Brown won by 5 lengths over Eight Belles and another 4 more to Denis of Cork and 3 more lengths back to the remaining competition. It was an impressive move, especially considering Big Brown was on the outside for the entire run around the track. Sadly, the lone filly, Eight Belles, who ran so gallantly trying to keep up with Big Brown, collapsed and died at the track right after the race, another tragic moment for the Triple Crown in recent years (Barbaro in 2006). 2008 Derby recap here (a lookback at past performances · final futures odds).
By 2007, the idea that a horse would win the Triple Crown was just about non-existent. Nevertheless, the Kentucky Derby favorite, Street Sense, did emerge as the winner.. and nearly won the Preakness (full recap here). But after finishing a close 2nd to Curlin, Street Sense skipped the Belmont.
A tragic Triple Crown in 2006. Following Barbaro's (story) 6 1/2 length runaway victory in the 132nd Kentucky Derby (results here - PDF and DRF), injury struck during the race at Pimlico. At first the injury seemed like it might reinforce in people's minds the worst about horse racing. The Belmont Stakes was essentially forgotten this year. And, the allure of a horse winning the Triple Crown has surely sunk to a 'believe-it-when-I-see-it' with no more hopes and wondering until it really happens. Yet, at the end of the day, it seems that Barbaro's treatment actually shows how far the sport has come. And next year, there won't be Triple Crown hopes, but horse racing is still gaining momentum.
The 2005 Breeders Cup in New York at Belmont Park. Results.
The 2005 Triple Crown started out with a big surprise. Giacomo, at 50-1, took the Kentucky Derby. Afleet Alex finished 3rd. In the Preakness, they flipped. Giacomo finished 3rd, while Afleet Alex took the victory. So, the Belmont was the rub match. Afleet Alex posted a dominating victory (Giacomo was 7th). In the last 5 years (and 8 of the last 9) a horse has won at least two legs of the triple crown.
In 2004, Smarty Jones ran out of energy in the stretch run of the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes. Jockey Edgar Prado guided Birdstone to a sweeping come-from-behind victory. Prado has won the Belmont Stakes twice in the last 3 years-- both times spoiling triple crown efforts.
There has not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Is it even possible to win the Triple Crown these days? Certainly, given the fact that in each of the last 4 years, a horse has come within one leg of winning the Triple Crown.
In 2003 Funny Cide won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. However, Empire Maker came away with the Belmont Stakes, spoiling Funny Cide's Triple Crown effort. And in 2004, it was Birdstone, similarly stealing the show from Smarty Jones. In 2002, Sarava upended War Emblem's Triple Crown quest. In 2001, Monarchos won the Derby (Point Given was 5th) but Point Given took the last two.
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