In a response to my most recent column, which focused on Buckpasser’s champion daughter La Prevoyante, one reader made a lengthy comment that needs a longer response.
Shelby’s central question was about the number of colts who have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but not the Belmont Stakes. Therefore, not Triple Crown winners. And then she wondered which were in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga?
Here are the colts who have won the first two races of the Triple Crown:
2014 California Chrome; 2012 I’ll Have Another; 2008 Big Brown; 2004 Smarty Jones; 2003 Funny Cide; 2002 War Emblem; 1999 Charismatic; 1998 Real Quiet; 1997 Silver Charm; 1989 Sunday Silence; 1987 Alysheba; 1981 Pleasant Colony; 1979 Spectacular Bid; 1971 Canonero II; 1969 Majestic Prince; 1968 Forward Pass; 1966 Kauai King; 1964 Northern Dancer; 1961 Carry Back; 1958 Tim Tam; 1944 Pensive; 1936 Bold Venture; 1932 Burgoo King.
Further investigation showed that the following had won the last two races of the Triple Crown:
2005 Afleet Alex; 2001 Point Given; 1994 Tabasco Cat; 1991 Hansel; 1988 Risen Star; 1974 Little Current; 1967 Damascus; 1955 Nashua; 1953 Native Dancer; 1949 Capot; 1940 Bimelech; *1922 Pillory; 1920 Man o’ War; 1895 Belmar; 1881 Saunterer; 1880 Grenada; 1878 Duke of Magenta; 1877 Cloverbrook.
*Please note that the term “Triple Crown” was not in use prior to 1930. Therefore, the listing of the earlier multiple winners is informative but does not suggest that any concept of winning a series existed.
But once headed down this road to look at the winners of two parts of the Triple Crown, the realization came quickly that other horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, but not the Preakness. These are:
1995 Thunder Gulch; 1984 Swale; 1976 Bold Forbes; 1972 Riva Ridge; 1963 Chateaugay; 1956 Needles; 1950 Middleground; 1942 Shut Out; 1939 Johnstown; 1931 Twenty Grand; and 1923 Zev.
By my count, there are 44 colts who won two of the Triple Crown races in the 84 years following Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in 1930 to the present. Of those, quite a few are in the Hall of Fame, including Man o’ War, Twenty Grand, Native Dancer, Damascus, and Johnstown.
Of the 23 colts who won only the Kentucky Derby and Preakness after 1930, those in the Hall of Fame are Alysheba, Carry Back, Majestic Prince, Northern Dancer, Silver Charm, Sunday Silence, and Tim Tam.
I was surprised at the minority of the nearly two dozen Triple Crown near-misses in the Hall of Fame, but it is an honor reserved for a few. After adding in the contingency that the nomination to the Hall comes only after a horse has been retired and includes an assessment of a horse’s entire career, there is the further difficulty of being measured against other horses of excellent merit on each year’s Hall of Fame ballot.