The defection of Reddam Racing's I'll Have Another from the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) ending his bid for the Triple Crown isn’t the first time a Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner failed to make the starting gate due to injury just prior to “Test of the Champion” at Belmont Park.
Twice in the 1930s did a dual classic winner fail to face the starter: E. R. Bradley’s Burgoo King in 1932 and M.L. Schwartz’s Bold Venture in 1936.
Burgoo King won the May 7 Kentucky Derby by five lengths, then took the May 13 Preakness Stakes by a head over Tick On.
Here it gets a little confusing.
The Belmont that year was run on June 4 and was won by Faireno. There are some reports that Burgoo King was not eligible for the race due to the fact not all of the proper paperwork was filed. Other reports are he twisted an ankle before the race.
The Blood-Horse reported that Burgoo King displayed lameness after a gallop at Belmont Park June 11 and after an examination it was determined he bowed a tendon. The injury may have come in the race Burgoo King ran in between the Preakness and the Belmont: the May 28 Withers Stakes won by Boatswain.
“The state of the Belmont Park track for that event was decidedly not to the horse’s liking, and it was noticed all through the race that he was running with extreme difficulty, though he did not evidence any lameness then or afterward,” reported The Blood-Horse.
Burgoo King was sent to Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm near Lexington. He was not only out for the year, he didn’t return to the races until he was 5. He made five starts, winning twice.
In the spring of 1936 Bold Venture won the 62nd running of the Kentucky Derby as a 20-1 shot by a head over 4-5 favorite Brevity on May 2. He then won the May 16 Preakness by a nose over Belair Stud Stable’s Granville.
On May 25 trainer Max Hirsch announced Bold Venture was done for the year after showing lameness in his right front leg following a six-furlong workout in 1:15.
“Tendons heal very slowly, very unsurely, and Bold Venture’s retirement is an indefinite one,” reported the May 30 edition of The Blood-Horse.
Granville would win the Belmont as the 8-5 favorite and go on to win the Arlington Classic, Travers, Saratoga Cup, Lawrence Realization, and the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup on his way to championship honors.
Bold Venture would not start again. The son of St. Germans—Possible, by Ultimus, would have a 6-2-0 slate from 11 career starts.
While the famous story of Spectacular Bid stepping on the safety pin in his stall the morning of the race quickly comes to mind, he did actually run in the race and finished third behind Coastal and Golden Act as the 3-10 favorite.
Three other runnings of the Belmont in modern times with a Triple Crown on the line were marred by injury of the Derby/Preakness winner.
Tim Tam fractured a sesamoid bone in the stretch of the 1958 Belmont, and Majestic Prince ran second to Arts and Letters in 1969 after coming out of the Preakness with some issues with his right front tendon. Jockey Bill Hartack said at the time that "the horse was hurting" and trainer Johnny Longden said the undefeated colt had a "check ligament in his right front."
Charismatic was battling for the lead in the stretch of the 1999 Belmont before fading to finish third. Jockey Chris Antley jumped off the colt just past the wire and it was discovered that he had broken his left leg in two places.
The Blood-Horse summed up just how tough the racing game is in the June 18 issue of 1932: “We gain another example for the book of experience which tells us that successes and failures, health and sickness, winnings and losings, ups and downs, fill the stream of life.”