06/09/2011 6:14PM

Top Belmont Stakes rides: No. 1


1. Angel Cordero, Bold Forbes, 1976

Bold Forbes began as a sprinter in Puerto Rico and was good enough to score a wire-to-wire upset victory over Honest Pleasure in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby. But even Cordero and trainer Laz Barrera doubted whether this high-strung, speed-crazy son of Irish Castle could relax sufficiently to win the Belmont. When Bold Forbes opened a four-length lead through a fast half-mile in 47 seconds, several other riders believed he would be lucky to finish in the top four. A half-mile later, Cordero could sense his mount beginning to tire, but somehow coaxed a larger lead entering the stretch. From there, Cordero held Bold Forbes together using all his guile, leg strength, whip power, and sensitive, powerful hands. Bold Forbes, too tired to keep a straight course, drifted out badly, shortened stride, and lost all but 18 inches of his lead to the stout stretch runners McKenzie Bridge and Great Contractor. When the race was over, the photo showed that an exhausted Bold Forbes had won, but the horse could not have known as his two rivals flew by him. "People still talk about that race and the way Cordero rode him," said Jacinto Vasquez, who was aboard third-place finisher Great Contractor. "I still don’t believe he lasted." It was his Cordero’s only victory in 21 attempts at the Belmont.

Top Belmont Stakes rides: Honorable mentions >>