Belmont Stakes Winners who have skipped the Preakness

Belmont Stakes 2017 has no Triple Crown on the line, but it may follow a recent trend of winners who skip the Preakness following a Kentucky Derby loss. The Belmont will be a test between the two horses running in all three legs, new shooters, and horses that received a five-week freshening after the Kentucky Derby.


Classic Empire, the early favorite for this year’s Belmont, and Lookin At Lee will be the only horses to take on all three races. Although there are new rivals making their first bid in the Triple Crown series, and a handful who ran in only the Preakness Stakes, the biggest rivals may well be coming back from Kentucky Derby losses. Most concerning to Classic Empire will be sixth-place finisher Tapwrit.


During the 1980’s and 90’s, nine of the 20 Belmont winners ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Since the turn of the century though, only three other Belmont winners have done so. It’s now much more common to see Belmont winners skip the two-week turnaround in the Preakness for five weeks of rest between the Derby and the Belmont. During the years a Triple Crown has been on the line, we have seen horses such as War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and California Chrome run in all three races, but the winners of the final leg in each case had more rest in between.



Just last year, Creator came back from a 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to win the Belmont Stakes, making him the eighth Belmont winner since 2000 to skip the Preakness following a Kentucky Derby run. This doesn’t even factor in fresh horses like Tonalist, whose first and only Triple Crown appearance was in the Belmont Stakes.


 *Lemon Drop Kid ran 3rd in the Peter Pan Stakes in between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont.

Some will argue today's horses don’t have the stamina for all three legs due to breeding, while others will point to different training methods. Whatever your beliefs, it’s hard to argue against a fresh horse in the Belmont Stakes, especially for those looking to bounce back from the Kentucky Derby. The large 20-horse field in the Derby can make for a difficult trip, but the Belmont is limited to only 16 horses, with 13 currently under consideration.


Whether Classic Empire, or Lookin At Lee, will finally win a Triple Crown race, or if it will be another horse with rest in between, will be decided on Saturday, June 10. It used to be common for a horse to win the Belmont after withstanding all three races, but in this day and age, a rest in between gives horses a much better chance at winning the Belmont.


By Christine Oser


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