When it comes to this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, most
horse racing fans hope that California Chrome will take the advice of
“I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT
ME AS A MEMBER.” ~ Groucho Marx
Of course, the club to which I refer first began
taking members in 1979. That first member was one of the greatest thoroughbreds
of all time, Spectacular Bid. The Bid won 26 of 30 career starts and
$2,781,607. He entered the Belmont Stakes on a twelve race win streak and his
loss kept him from becoming the third consecutive Triple Crown winner. Thus,
The Bid became the charter member of this club in which you do not actually
want to be a member.
The club has a rather exclusive membership, even though
you really don’t want to be a part of this group. There are four Hall of Famers
in the club: Bid, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, and Silver Charm. All twelve members
became the Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Sunday Silence and Charismatic even went on to become Horse of the Year after their sophomore seasons.
Several members got close to shutting the doors of
the club. The second place finishes of Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real
Quiet, and Smarty Jones, however, were not enough; and they, too, gained membership
to the club.
After 20 years, in 1998, coming down the stretch it
seemed certain that Real Quiet was not going to accept a spot in the
club. At the top of the stretch he had a four-length lead, but luck was not on
his side as Victory Gallop came roaring down the stretch to catch Real
Quiet in the very last possible moment.
Big Brown and I’ll Have Another
most recently had no chance to win the Triple Crown and accepted their
membership to the club by default. Big Brown pulled up on the final turn in the
2008 Belmont and I'll Have Another retired from racing before the 2012
Test of Champions.
On Saturday a huge crowd is expected to break the
Belmont Stakes attendance record of 120,139. That is how great the anticipation
is for a new Triple Crown winner. Over the past 36 years the club of Triple
Crown failures has grown. This weekend California Chrome will take his shot to
join a different club, horse racing’s most exclusive one, and become the 12th
Triple Crown winner.