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Belmont Stakes 2011 – The Rubber Match

by Angela Hermann

As the Belmont Stakes approaches, we have a scenario unseen since 2005. The Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes have two different winners that will settle the score in the “Test of the Champion”. Several times over the past 20 years, we’ve been riding the wave of a Derby-Preakness winner only to have high hopes dashed by an upset. Heck, the greatest upset in Belmont history took out War Emblem in 2002, when Sarava ended his bid with an exclamation point at 70-1. In the spirit of this head-to-head battle, I’ve assembled a list of KD/Preakness winners over the past 50 years that ended up squaring off in the Belmont:

Oddly enough, the trend has gravitated toward Preakness winners outdoing their Kentucky Derby opponents, while the only time Derby horses truly dominated was in the 1980s. After the upsets of Conquistador Cielo and Temperence Hill, these matchups became far more formful. Only one winner went off at over 4.10-1, that being Colonial Affair. Prairie Bayou went off favored that day and broke down. Hansel, Tabasco Cat, Point Given & Afleet Alex were all beaten in the derby at odds of 6-1 or lower.

Overall, many of the Preakness-Belmont winners were beaten by longshots in the Derby and had legitimate excuses for their defeat. Only two winners of the Derby actually went on to win their Belmonts in this situation, both being standouts of their generation. So, while arrows may point to Animal Kingdom to avenge his defeat – Don’t count Shackleford out!