Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances

Steve Haskin's Look Back at the Decade 

Editors of The Blood-Horse challenged senior correspondent Steve Haskin to fill in the blanks on several “best of” lists for the decade of 2000-2009. While several of them appear in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 combined issue of the magazine (mailing on Dec. 29), there wasn’t space for them all.

Over the coming days until the end of the year, all of Steve’s lists will be posted here with readers of encouraged to comment.

Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances (Videos Below):

1. Afleet Alex winning the 2005 Preakness – Watching his remarkable recovery after nearly falling and then going on to a comfortable victory still is one of the most amazing feats I’ve ever witnessed.

2. Rags to Riches winning 2007 Belmont Stakes – Considering who she beat and how she did it, after stumbling badly at the start, this gut-wrenching performance has to rank as one of the great moments in Triple Crown history.

3. Rachel Alexandra winning 2009 Preakness Stakes – She broke new ground by coming back two weeks after her Kentucky Oaks demolition and switching barns and winning the Preakness, despite battling on the lead through swift fractions.

4. Big Brown winning 2008 Kentucky Derby – Winning the Derby in a romp in only his fourth career start and breaking from post 20 makes this  one of the greatest and most under-appreciated performances of the decade. The magnitude of his achievement was overshadowed by the Eight Belles tragedy.

5. Curlin winning 2007 Preakness – After being passed by Street Sense at the top of the stretch and seemingly beaten, he rallied to catch the Kentucky Derby winner right on the wire in only his fifth career start. This race proved to be his springboard to a Horse of the Year campaign.

6. Smarty Jones winning 2004 Preakness – His 11-length romp was one of the most dominating victories seen in a Triple Crown race. His acceleration after turning for home and the way he drew off at will from a talented field made this the most jaw-dropping victory of the decade.

7. Birdstone winning 2004 Belmont Stakes – Although it wasn’t the result everyone was hoping for, it was the most electric atmosphere experienced in a long time, and by a record Belmont crowd of over 120,000. Smarty Jones’ :22 4/5 third quarter, the dubious tactics by rival jockeys, and Birdstone’s relentless charge made this one for the history books.

8. Point Given winning 2001 Belmont Stakes – His 12-length runaway also ranks right up there for total domination, and along with his Preakness score, had everyone scratching their heads how he failed to sweep the Triple Crown. Unlike Smarty Jones, he just out-stayed his foes and steadily ran them into the ground with those huge strides.

9. Barbaro winning 2006 Kentucky Derby – Very few were expecting such a blowout in what was perceived to be a strong Derby field. Immediately after the race, many were all but conceding the Triple Crown to this exciting, undefeated colt.

10. Fusaichi Pegasus winning 2000 Kentucky Derby – People forget just how spectacular this grand-looking colt was, and he, too, looked like a sure-fire Triple Crown winner after his authoritative victory. He was quite a character, and physically, was as magnificent-looking a Derby winner as I've ever seen. This was a much better horse than people think, but didn’t get a chance to show it because of physical issues.

10. Tie Monarchos Winning the 2001 Kentucky Derby -- What made this effort so remarkable was not only the fact that it was the second-fastest Derby ever run, but the power demonstrated by Monarchos as he came from far back and demolished a top-class field that included Point Given and Congaree.

Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances
- Videos

1. Afleet Alex 2005 Preakness Stakes

2. Rags to Riches 2007 Belmont Stakes

3. Rachel Alexandra 2009 Preakness Stakes

4. Big Brown 2008 Kentucky Derby

5. Curlin 2007 Preakness Stakes

6. Smarty Jones 2004 Preakness Stakes

7. Birdstone 2004 Belmont Stakes

8. Point Given 2001 Belmont Stakes

9. Barbaro 2006 Kentucky Derby

10. Fusaichi Pegasus 2000 Kentucky Derby

Previous Lists:

12/21/09 - Most Physically Impressive Horses 

Recent Posts

More Blogs