Unlucky losers: The horses that lost the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes

A number of horses fell at the final hurdle in their attempt to secure the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes isn't known as "The Test of Champions" for nothing...

Not every horse that wins the Kentucky Derby is destined for the Triple Crown.

Indeed, the Belmont Stakes, known rightfully as the "The Test Of Champions", can trip up even the gamest of racehorses.

In this article, we go through some standout Triple Crown-chasing horses that were victorious in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but who fell agonizingly short in the Belmont.

Tim Tam, 1958

This bay horse was bred by the legendary Calumet Farm, who had already reared a pair of Triple Crown winners in Whirlaway and Citation.

Despite excellent breeding, having been sired by the champion Tom Fool, in his two-year-old season Tim Tam had just one start, finishing unplaced. Hardly form that suggested a tilt at the Triple Crown.

Yet Tim Tam was never one to show his ability too soon, often idling in races but getting to the line at just the right time. As a three-year-old, Tim Tam went hard for the Triple Crown, beating frontrunner Lincoln Road twice, first in the 1958 Kentucky Derby and then in the Preakness Stakes.

Everything seemed aligned for Tim Tam to complete the Triple Crown in the Belmont as he loomed up on Irish raider Cavan rounding the final turn at Belmont Park. Yet disaster then struck as Tim Tam broke a bone in his right foreleg, handing the race to Cavan.

"It would make a man cry if he had a cry in him," Tim Tam's trainer Jimmy Jones told Sports Illustrated once his horse's chances of the Triple Crown had been dashed by injury.

Tim Tam's heroics had not gone unnoticed though as Ross Arnott, a visiting snack maker from Australia, named his new line of chocolate biscuits after the horse.

Spectacular Bid, 1979

The Bud Delp trained grey Spectacular Bid had a stellar racing career right through to four years old, but losing the Triple Crown in the 1979 Belmont Stakes was a sore point in more ways than one.

As a two-year-old under teenage jockey Ronnie Franklin, Spectacular Bid had won seven out of nine races and had unanimously been voted as the champion two-year-old male at the Eclipse Awards.

Honors kept coming in 1979 when Spectacular Bid won the Kentucky Derby by two-and-three-quarter lengths from General Assembly. The Preakness Stakes soon followed, with a five-and-a-half length win over Golden Act which beat the times set by the greats Seattle Slew and Affirmed.

Just before the Belmont Stakes and a crack at a historic Triple Crown, Spectacular Bid stood on an open safety pin dropped by his groom. The injury wasn't considered bad enough to stop Spectacular Bid from racing and he took his shot at glory at Belmont Park.

Anyone expecting the horse to "do a Secretariat" and win by a wide margin was left disappointed as Spectacular Bid faded badly and finished third behind outsider Coastal. Debate has raged as to whether it was the safety pin or jockey error which cost the horse the most prestigious three-timer in American racing, but either way, this Spectacular Bid for the Triple Crown was one that ended in painful failure.

Real Quiet, 1998

The 1998 Belmont Stakes went down as one of the most epic in its long history and threw up one of the greatest upsets ever in a photo finish. Never before or since has a horse seemed so likely to win in the final furlongs before being caught in such dramatic fashion at the winning post.

Real Quiet's chances of a Triple Crown grew in momentum after a runaway victory in the 1997 Hollywood Futurity followed by a pair of wins over Victory Gallop in the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

However, Victory Gallop was to have the last laugh by catching the Bob Baffert trained Real Quiet on the line in the Belmont, a result that left many in the crowd stunned into silence.

Coming down the final straight, Real Quiet, under jockey Kent Desormeaux, had a four-length lead from the pack but didn't reckon on Victory Gallop living up to his name.

Victory Gallop gained on Real Quiet like an express train, with both horses reaching the winning post together. A photo finish was called and it emerged that Real Quiet had lost out on the Triple Crown by just a nose.

Real Quiet was nicknamed "the fish" by his trainer because of the horse's slender frame, but it was his connections who were flipping mad, missing out on a $5million bonus offered by VISA for taking the Triple Crown.

Charismatic, 1999

Talk about a tearjerker; Charismatic's 1999 defeat in the Belmont Stakes was an emotional rollercoaster as the horse suffered a multiple fracture of the foreleg in the final stages of the race.

The image of rider Chris Antley hopping off his horse and holding up Charismatic's injured leg to prevent any further damage was a moving moment, as was the jockey's tearful post-race interview. "He gave us a lot, he gave America a lot," said Antley, tears streaming down his face.

The Triple Crown had been redemption for both jockey and horse, with Antley recovering from a substance abuse problem and his horse Charismatic running in lowly claiming races before an unlikely win in the Kentucky Derby.

Charismatic took the Churchill Downs signature race as a 31/1 outsider in the 125th Kentucky Derby under a smooth ride from Antley. The pair then proved the Kentucky Derby win was no fluke with a convincing win in a muddy 1999 Preakness, bringing the Triple Crown in sight.

The "Test of Champions" at Belmont Park proved too much of a physical one for Charismatic, but the horse's life was saved by his quick-thinking jockey and the image was voted the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Moment of the Year" for 1999.

California Chrome, 2014

By 2014, American sporting lust for a Triple Crown winner had reached fever pitch.

Not since 1978 and the superb Affirmed had the trio of classic American races been won by the same horse in the same season, but California Chrome looked to have an excellent chance after wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

California Chrome became known as "the people's horse", having being bred by low-key owner-breeders Perry Martin and Steve Coburn and raced in the colors of Dumb Ass Partners. The horse was loved for his goofy charisma, often backing out of horse transporters instead of walking forwards. However, California Chrome's persona belied a lightning fast turn of foot which made him a serious Triple Crown contender.

Fans of California Chrome, known as "Chromies", were ecstatic as their horse romped to a one-and-three-quarter length victory under Victor Espinoza in the Kentucky Derby.

Victory in the 2014 Preakness Stakes was almost a foregone conclusion for this seriously talented horse with the ability to find more whenever asked in the final stretch.

Pressure mounted for a Triple Crown win as connections of previous winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew assembled at Belmont Park to witness a new champion. However, California Chrome was trod on by another horse as he broke out of the gate, losing a chunk of tissue from his right heel.

At the winning post it wasn't California Chrome gleaming in victory, but 8/1 shot Tonalist as the Triple Crown went begging for another year.

Finally, in 2015, American Pharoah gave the American public the Triple Crown they craved, but California Chrome proved himself on a global level by winning the 2016 Dubai World Cup.

Despite losing out on the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome was a solid gold animal, for a time topping the charts for all-time earnings for a North American horse.