Dealing with new shooters, ones that lie in wait in Baltimore or New
York, is one of the biggest obstacles on the Triple Crown trail. An
opponent with fresh legs is right there with the three racetracks and
three distances crammed into five weeks to explain why the last Triple
Crown winner was in 1978.
Arkansas' favorite horse was
victimized by just such an ambush in 2004. Smarty Jones, who swept
Oaklawn Park's 3-year-old series prior to winning the Derby and the
Preakness, was a few yards from becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner
when 36-1 Birdstone caught him in the shadow of the wire in the Belmont.