I'll Have Another's magical run through the first two legs of the 2012 Triple Crown — a pull-away victory in the 2012 Kentucky Derby followed by a stirring comeback in Saturday's 2012 Preakness — places him in elite company with just the 2012 Belmont Stakes to go. If he becomes the first thoroughbred since Affirmed in 1978 to claim horse racing's most famous prize, he will be succeeding where many horses have failed.
Since 1978, 11 horses have claimed the first two legs of the Triple Crown — Spectacular Bid in 1979, Pleasant Colony in 1981, Alydar foal Alysheba in 1987, Sunday Silence in 1989, Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, and Big Brown in 2008 — only to fall short of winning the Belmont Stakes in a variety of ways.
Spectacular Bid took the only show of his 30-race career in the 1979 Belmont Stakes, allegedly because of an injury. Bet Twice, second in the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, romped in the 1987 Belmont as Alysheba finished fourth. Silver Charm was edged, almost poetically, by Touch Gold in the 1997 Belmont; Victory Gallop closed to dash Real Quiet's hopes at the wire in the 1998 edition. War Emblem finished nearly 20 lengths back in the 2002 Belmont only to be outdone for futility in 2008, as the previously undefeated Big Brown became the first Triple Crown-seeking horse in history to finish first-first-last in the three races with an uncompetitive Belmont performance.
I'll Have Another, the 12th horse to take the Derby and Preakness since 1978, will seek to avoid their fates. History may smile on I'll Have Another's duel with Bodemeister, second in both Triple Crown races this year, as it recalls Affirmed's famed clash with Alydar. Bodemeister is the first horse since Alydar to place second to a horse that took both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
SB Nation's horse racing expert Matt Gardner reacts to I'll Have Another's Preakness triumph.