06/02/2013 1:27PM

When Derby, Preakness Winners Collide


In the last 40 years, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness have been won by different horses 25 times. (The other 15 years, the Derby winner won the Preakness, with Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed going on to win Triple Crowns, the next 11 losing the Belmont, and I'll Have Another scratching from the race last year.)

Of those 25 years in which the first two legs of the Triple Crown had different winners, both returned to square off in the Belmont only 12 times, with one or both skipping the final leg in the other 13 years.

Here is how those dozen Belmont Stakes faceoffs between a Derby winner and a Preakness winner turned out:


That's six victories for the Preakness winner, just one by the Derby winner and five by neither of the above. (According to the NYRA, there have been a total of 21 such faceoffs, and if you include the nine others before 1973, the tally is 9-5 in favor of Preakness winners.)

This may be worth keeping in mind if Derby winner Orb is roughly 9-5 with Preakness winner Oxbow more like 6-1 in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Or maybe not: It's a small sample that might be misleading, and there's also a case to be made that the relative success of Preakness winners may reflect something that may not be true this year: Something went wrong in the Derby for those six colts -- all of whom went on to be recognized as the best in their crop and named champion 3-year-old. The perception so far this year, rightly or not, seems to be that Orb's Derby was the true bill and Oxbow stole the Preakness while Orb didn't fire his best shot.

Only twice in this span have the winners of the first two legs accounted for the Belmont exacta: Tabasco Cat-Go For Gin in 1994 (that exacta paid $19.20), and Hansel-Strike the Gold ($39.20) in 1991. That's the same number of times that both the Derby and Preakness winner finished off the board: In 2011, when Shackleford and Animal Kingdom were 5th and 6th, and in 1993, when Sea Hero was 7th and Prairie Bayou did not finish. The $2 trifecta payouts those two years were $8,268 for Ruler on Ice-Stay Thirsty-Brilliant Speed and $18,677 for Colonial Affair-Kissin Kris-Wild Gale.

Here's the full list of Triple Crown results since 1973: