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Triple Crown Near Misses: Great Horses That Have Come So Close

On Saturday, California Chrome will run the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of American Thoroughbred racing. His fans are hoping to see him become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Followers of the racing world have had plenty of reasons to hope for an end to the Triple Crown drought over the past 36 years. Here are a few of the horses that ran to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but couldn't quite seal the deal at the Belmont.

I'll Have Another - 2012

The most recent horse to make it to the third round of the Triple Crown was I'll Have Another, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 2012. Bettors were already picking the horse to win the Belmont when Another's owners and trainer decided to scratch him due to a tendon injury and he lost his shot at running the race.

Big Brown - 2008

Big Brown was a big hopeful for the Triple Crown in 2008 but spectators knew almost immediately that he was not a contender when the Belmont began that year. Brown's jockey pulled back on the horse after realizing he was injured; the horse had a quarter crack in his hoof.

Smarty Jones - 2004

Smarty Jones was the crowd favorite at the 2004 Belmont Stakes after winning the Derby and Preakness. He was a fast horse but lost in the end to the longshot Birdstone in a wild upset. A superfecta bet with Birdstone in first payed out over $11,000.

Funny Cide - 2003

Funny Cide was sidelined by a rainy, sloppy track at the 2003 Belmont Stakes, leaving fans to wonder whether the horse would've been able to win the Triple Crown in sunnier conditions.

War Emblem - 2002

It was a heartbreaker for War Emblem fans watching in 2002 as the Triple Crown hopeful tripped at the starting gate, leading to a long stretch that War Emblem could not overcome.

Charismatic - 1999

Charismatic was the Triple Crown hopeful in 1999, but a slow run revealed that the horse was actually injured. He had a broken leg and was not a contender in the race.

Spectacular Bid - 1979

After back-to-back years of Triple Crown winners in the 1970s, Spectacular Bid fell short in 1979. The horse ran out of steam toward the end of the Belmont Stakes, beginning a drought in Triple Crown winners that has lasted until today. Perhaps California Chrome will be the horse to break that streak.

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