In Quest of a Crown: What Works Best?

In Quest of a Crown: What Works Best?
Photo: AP/Breck Smither
Affirmed, racing's last Triple Crown winner, at Jonabell Farm in 1999.
It appears trainer John Servis did everything right in guiding Smarty Jones to wins in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I). He worked the unbeaten son of Elusive Quality once in the three weeks between the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and Kentucky Derby. Between the Run for the Roses and the Preakness, Servis just let him gallop.

But things are different now. The stakes are even higher. Smarty Jones is on the verge of becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first unbeaten one since Seattle Slew in 1977. Servis seems content to play it by ear in regard to Smarty Jones' workout schedule and go by the time-honored maxim "We'll let the horse tell us what to do."

Like Servis, Seattle Slew's trainer, Billy Turner, and the other conditioners whose charges won both the Derby and Preakness were faced with similar decisions on what to do on the way to the Belmont. Some got to Belmont as soon as possible while others arrived close to the running of the 1 1/2 mile classic.

Here's a glance back on the workout schedules for the Derby/Preakness winners, starting with the most recent ones, since 1969. That year seemed a good time to start because it marked the first year that a Derby/Preakness winner went into the Belmont unbeaten.

Funny Cide (2003)
Trained by Barclay Tagg
June 7 -- Belmont Stakes -- Only five rivals faced Funny Cide, and it was Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker who won, with Funny Cide finishing third. Empire Maker had skipped the Preakness.
Workouts
June 3 Bel 5f :57 4/5
May 28 Bel 5f :59 2/5


War Emblem (2002)
Trained by Bob Baffert
June 8 -- Belmont Stakes -- Sarava, fresh off a win in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard, upset War Emblem at 70-1 in the Belmont. War Emblem ran eighth, the worst finish ever for a Derby/Preakness winner in the Belmont.
Workouts
June 4 CD 5f 1:01
May 29 CD 5f 1:00 3/5

Charismatic (1999)
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas
June 5 -- Belmont Stakes -- Charismatic found Derby also-ran Lemon Drop Kid too tough and finished third.
Workouts
June 1 CD 5f 1:00 2/5
May 25 CD 6f 1:16 2/5


Real Quiet (1998)
Trained by Bob Baffert
June 6 -- Belmont Stakes -- Up by four lengths at the eighth pole, Real Quiet lost by a stubborn nose to Derby/Preakness runner-up Victory Gallop.
Workouts
June 2 CD 5f 1:01
May 28 CD 5f :59 4/5

Silver Charm (1997)
Trained by Bob Baffert
June 7 -- Belmont Stakes -- Touch Gold, whose horrible start in the Preakness had his connections hoping for better days, scored by three-quarters of a length over Silver Charm.
Workouts
June 3 CD 5f 1:01
May 28 CD 6f 1:14 4/5

Sunday Silence (1989)
Trained by Charlie Whittingham
June 10 -- Belmont Stakes -- Sunday Silence proved no match for Derby/Preakness runner-up Easy Goer once the latter got back to his home track in the Belmont.
Workouts
June 6 Bel 3f :37
June 3 Bel 8f 1:39 3/5
May 26 Bel 3f :37 2/5

Alysheba (1987)
Trained by Jack Van Berg
June 6 -- Belmont Stakes -- Bet Twice, second in the Derby and Preakness, romped to a 14-length win as Alysheba finished fourth.
Workouts
May 31 Bel 8f 1:44
May 25 Bel 8f 1:41 3/5

Pleasant Colony (1981)
Trained by John Campo
June 6 -- Belmont Stakes -- Pleasant Colony ran third to winner Summing, who had shown he was a colt to be reckoned with after a 1:37 4/5 mile workout Belmont week.
Workouts
June 3 Bel 4f :46 1/5
May 30 Bel 8f 1:39 2/5
May 24 Bel 5f :59 4/5

Spectacular Bid (1979)
Trained by Bud Delp
June 9 -- Belmont Stakes -- Spectacular Bid, undone by a safety pin imbedded in a foot and a misjudged ride in the Belmont, finished third to winner Coastal, who impressed racegoers with an earlier 13-length score in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Workouts
June 8 Bel 3f :34 1/5
June 4 Bel 8f 1:39
May 31 Pim 7f 1:26

Affirmed (1978) Triple Crown Winner
Trained by Lazaro Barrera
June 10 -- Belmont Stakes -- It was Affirmed over Derby/Preakness runner-up Alydar by a nose in what many view as the greatest of all Belmonts.
Workouts
June 7 Bel 5f 1:01
June 1 Bel 8f 1:40 1/5

Seattle Slew (1977) Triple Crown Winner
Trained by Billy Turner
June 11 -- Belmont Stakes -- Racing's first unbeaten Triple Crown winner ran his win streak to nine with a four-length score in the Belmont.
Workouts
June 10 Bel 3f :35 4/5
June 7 Bel 6f 1:11 3/5
June 2 Bel 8f 1:38 2/5

Secretariat (1973) Triple Crown Winner
Trained by Lucien Laurin
June 9 -- Belmont Stakes -- Binoculars would have come in handy as Secretariat won the Belmont by 31 lengths in record time of 2:24 to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation.
Workouts
June 6 Bel 4f :46 3/5
June 1 Bel 8f 1:34 4/5
May 27 Bel 6f 1:12 1/5

Canonero II (1971)
Trained by Juan Arias
June 5 -- Belmont Stakes -- Canonero led early, but finished fourth to longshot Pass Catcher.
Workouts
June 2 Bel 5f 1:04
May 26 Bel 4f :53 2/5

Majestic Prince (1969)
Trained by John Longden
June 7 -- Belmont Stakes -- Majestic Prince fell victim to Derby/Preakness runner-up Arts and Letters, who showed enough spunk to win the Metropolitan Handicap in between the Preakness and Belmont.
Workouts
June 5 Bel 4f :45 4/5
June 1 Bel 9f 1:51 4/5
May 27 Bel 5f :58 2/5

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