As if the Triple Crown club—at just 12 winners—wasn't exclusive enough, the number of undefeated horses to sweep the American classics is so exclusive that—with only Seattle Slew accomplishing the feat—it's not even a club.
Justify will look to become the 13th Triple Crown winner and second undefeated Triple Crown winner in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. The Road takes this opportunity to recall the four previous Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winners to enter the Belmont with an unblemished record.
Majestic Prince (1969)
Record going into Belmont: Nine wins in nine starts, including six stakes
Odds in Belmont: 6-5
Outcome: Derby and Preakness runner-up Arts and Letters came up big in the year's final classic. Second-choice in the wagering at 8-5, Arts and Letters tracked in second early, took the lead through a mile in 1:40 1/5, and drew off to a 5 1/2-length score. Majestic Prince rallied for second but never threatened the winner.
Quotable: "When I saw how far back we were laying off the pace, five lengths with a half in :51, I told (owner Frank) McMahon right then, I said, 'We're gonna be second.'"—Johnny Longden, trainer of Majestic Prince
Seattle Slew (1977)
Record going into Belmont: Eight wins in eight starts, including five grade 1 stakes
Odds in Belmont: 2-5
Outcome: Facing an off track for the first time proved no problem for Seattle Slew. Just as he did in three previous grade 1 stakes, Seattle Slew led at every point of call on his way to a four-length score in the Belmont, completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:29 3/5 on a muddy track.
Quotable: "Winning a Triple Crown is something any horseman dreams about all his life. You dream about it, but you don't expect it. More than that, you don't expect to do it as easily as this horse has."—Billy Turner, trainer of Seattle Slew
Smarty Jones (2004)
Record going into Belmont: Eight wins in eight starts including seven stakes victories, two grade 1
Odds in Belmont: 1-5
Outcome: After contesting the early pace, Smarty Jones seized the lead just after a half-mile in :48.65. He opened his advantage to 3 1/2 lengths at the quarter pole, but Birdstone, a grade 1 winner at 2 who skipped the Preakness after finishing eighth in the Derby, rallied five wide in the far turn into second. Birdstone and Edgar Prado continued that rally to catch Smarty Jones in deep stretch and registered a one-length score. Smarty Jones finished second, eight lengths ahead of Royal Assault.
Quotable: "I feel so awful for Smarty Jones. We were hoping we'd be second. I love Smarty Jones. He's done more for racing than anyone I've ever known."—Marylou Whitney, owner and breeder of Birdstone
Big Brown (2008)
Record going into Belmont: Five wins in as many starts, including three grade 1 stakes
Odds in Belmont: 1-5
Outcome: In one of the most mysterious racing performances in history, Big Brown was rank in the early going then raced third through a half-mile in :48.30 and a mile in 1:37.96 where he raced seven wide into the far turn. Asked for run on the far turn, Big Brown dropped back abruptly midway and was pulled up approaching the quarter pole.
Quotable: "I just felt so badly for the horse. When I went back to see him after the race, I put my arms around him for a good minute and he just rested his head on my shoulder."—Michael Iavarone, co-president of Big Brown co-owner IEAH Stables