With a single victory Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert would have castaway demons that have conspire to allude him of the ultimate feat in horse racing; the Triple Crown. On Saturday, June 6th, Bob Baffert was able to do away with two previous heartbreaking moments at the Belmont Stakes.
In 1997, Bob Baffert brought into Belmont Silver Charm; already capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes) was outlasted by Touch Gold, and came in 2nd. The following year he had another chance with Real Quiet; once again Bob Baffert’s horse would leave Belmont with only a 2nd place finish. In 2002, with arguably his best horse with the opportunity to silence the critics and end a 24 year drought in front of record breaking crowd at Belmont of over 103, 000 spectators, War Embelm couldn’t even get out of the gates clean; and stumbling almost to his knees coming out of the gate, made a effort to take the lead, but eventually faded to the back of the pack down the stretch. And once again no Triple crown winner.
Between the years when Citation won the Triple Crown (1948) and Secretariat (1973); there were 7 seven horses with the opportunity to capture the Triple Crown but faltered in the Belmont Stakes. There was talk that there would never be another winner of the Triple Crown, and then then…with the most spectacular three races a horse could have capped off with a machine like performance in the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat brought hope back to horse racing fans; winning the Belmont by 31 lengths and setting a record pace that still stands today of 2:24:00.
It took 25 years for the world to see a Triple Crown winner when Secretariat won in 1973. Before the decade was closed up horse racing fans was able to get two more in back to back years with Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. It could have been assumed that the frequency between Triple Crown winners would have been no more than 5 or 6 years, 10 at the most. Who would have guessed that it would take 37 years and 36 tries before the world got to witness the ultimate accomplishment in horse racing. Since 1978 there have been 13 unsuccessful bids for the Triple Crown; winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but not the Belmont.
After the Kentucky Derby is won, most people are tuned in to the Preakness Stakes to see if the Derby winner can pull out the victory in the Preakness. If not, the casual fan would probably show little to no interest in the Belmont Stakes. On the first weekend in June, if the Derby and Preakness winner is the same horse looking to capture the biggest prize most fans are on the edge of the seat waiting to see if that horse will make his stake in history.
After 37 years and 13 horses have tried and came up short; American Pharoah quieted the grumblings of hopefuls all around the world for a Triple Crown winner, capturing the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown with a wire to wire victory and recording the fastest a horse winning the Triple Crown has gone since Secretariat 1973 with a 2:26:65 finish.