Triple Crown near-misses since 1978
1979 - Spectacular Bid
Spectacular Bid won 12 straight races heading into the Belmont Stakes, but finished third. He suffered a freak accident before the race as he stepped on a safety pin that ended up stuck in his hoof and caused an infection. Luckily Spectacular Bid ended up being okay.
1981 - Pleasant Colony
Pleasant Colony barely won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the horse finished in third place at the Belmont behind Summing.
1987 - Alysheba
Alysheba was a sprinter who wasn’t quite ready for the distance at the Belmont Stakes. He finished fourth as Bet Twice dominated the race. In an interesting subplot, Alysheba wasn’t allowed to race with Lasix, which was a medication the horse had been taking before the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
1989 - Sunday Silence
Sunday Silence’s bid for a Triple Crown was upended by his rival Easy Goer. Sunday Silence defeated Easy Goer in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but lost to him by eight lengths in the Belmont Stakes.
1997 - Silver Charm
Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness by a very close margin, but like so many horses before him, his luck would run out in the Belmont. Silver Charm lost his Triple Crown bid by just half of a length to Touch Gold.
1998 - Real Quiet
Bob Baffert had a chance for a Triple Crown with Silver Charm in 1997 and then with Real Quiet in 1998, but just like Silver Charm, Real Quiet’s bid to win the Belmont fell short as he finished second to Victory Gallop.
1999 - Charismatic
Charismatic roared into the lead rounding the final turn at the Belmont, but in doing so fractured two bones in his front left leg. He ended up finishing in third behind Lemon Drop Kid. Luckily Charismatic was able to survive the injury.
2002 - War Emblem
Bob Baffert’s third attempt at winning a Triple Crown ended as soon as the starting gates opened up at the Belmont. War Emblem (right) stumbled coming out of the gate and wound up finishing in eighth behind 70-to-1 longshot Sarava.
2003 - Funny Cide
Funny Cide dominated the Preakness Stakes as he won the second leg of the Triple Crown by ten lengths. The horse faded away in the Belmont Stakes and wound up finishing in third.
2004 - Smarty Jones
Smarty Jones entered the 2004 Belmont Stakes with an undefeated record of 8-0, but suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Birdstone, who was the first horse to ever pass Smarty Jones in a race.
2008 - Big Brown
As the field at the Belmont Stakes turned for the homestretch, Big Brown failed to respond to jockey Kent Desormeaux’s commands, so he eased up the horse and trotted over the finish line. Da’Tara was the surprise winner.
2012 - I'll Have Another
In a sad turn of events, I’ll Have Another never got a shot at winning the first Triple Crown since 1978 as the horse was scratched on the day before the race with tendonitis in his knee. He would never race again.
2014 - California Chrome
Jockey Victor Espinoza and California Chrome breezed through both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes were a different story however. Tonalist, who didn't race in either the Preakness or Kentucky Derby, was able to outlast the heavy favorite and spoil his bid at the first Triple Crown in 36 years.