There have been many near-misses of a Triple Crown since Affirmed turned the trick in 1978. Spectacular Bid in 1979, Pleasant Colony in 1981, Alysheba in 1987, Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, and Smarty Jones in 2004 spring to mind. However, the horse that most deserved to be covered in Triple Crown glory never had a chance after running 5th in the Kentucky Derby.
That would be the horse pictured here, Point Given. Point Given drew the outside (#17) post in the 2001 Derby and while he chased a suicidal pace set by Songandaprayer, Jorge Chavez had Monarchos nice and relaxed at the back of the pack and he made his big move on the turn and turned in the second-fastest time in Derby history (1:59.4). Point Given flattened out in the stretch and had to settle for 5th. Trainer Bob Baffert admitted after the Derby that he may have had the horse too much on tilt and promised better in the immediate future.
Well, Baffert was able to deliver on that promise with Point Given in the Preakness and the Belmont. Point Given cruised to a 2 1/4 length win at Pimlico and then followed it up with a devastating Belmont win by 12 1/4 lengths, while Monarchos struggled home in third place. Point Given would go on from his Belmont win to also score in the Haskell at Monmouth and the Travers at Saratoga in 2001. In fact, he only lost one race in his entire three-year-old campaign, and that was the Kentucky Derby.
Other horses have won the Derby and Preakness or the Derby and the Belmont, even the Point Given double of Preakness and Belmont. However, in recent years, no horse was more deserving of his accolades than Point Given. I think he might be the best three-year-old we have seen since Spectacular Bid. He should have won the Triple Crown. It is a shame he didn't.
Tune in on Monday for a look at the Grade I Shadwell Metropolitan Mile at Belmont. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of baltimoresun.com