By Gene Kershner
Thoroughbred racing has had 11 near-misses since Affirmed defeated Alydar in 1978 to become the 11th Triple Crown champion in history and the third in six years in the 1970's. Let's take a look behind some of the numbers in those 11 attempts in the last 35 years and the oddities as we sit two weeks away from the 12th attempt by California Chrome.
- The average odds of the Derby-Preakness winner when leaving the gate in the Belmont was just above 4-5, basically odds-on. Of the near-misses, three horses were more than even money, with Charismatic in 1999 the highest price favorite at 1.60-1.
- The average attendance on a potential Triple Crown date is over 82,000, with the more recent attempts nearing and exceeding six figures. I'm projecting somewhere in excess of 100,000 on June 7 just based on California Chrome's popularity. When I'll Have Another scratched the day before the Belmont in 2012, the attendance was still north of 85,000 fans.
- Out of the 11 near-misses, the Triple Crown hopeful finished second or third four times each. Only three horses missed the board completely, with Alysheba rounding out the superfecta in 1987.
- The average odds of the winner was approximately 19-1 over the near-misses since 1978, however that is skewed sharply by the last five tries that averaged over 35-1 due to big bombs such as Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Sarava (2002), Birdstone (2004) and Da'Tara (2008).
- In the six tries between 1979 and 1998, the odds of the horse that served up a Triple Crown spoiler was less than 5-1.
Here's a look behind the numbers at the 11 Triple Crown misses since 1979:
|Triple Crown Near-Misses Since 1977|
Next Friday we'll take a look at the Belmont probable entries and grade out their chances for a Triple Crown upset on June 7 in Elmont.