06/09/2011 6:08PM

Top Belmont Stakes rides: No. 3


3. Gary Stevens, Victory Gallop, 1998

With Real Quiet having defeated Victory Gallop in the Derby and Preakness, it looked like Affirmed and Alydar all over again. So when Kent Desormeaux anxiously pushed Real Quiet to a four-length lead at the top of the stretch, he seemed home free. Not quite, as Gary Stevens was plotting a historic moment of his own. After a rough start, Stevens settled Victory Gallop in the rear of the pack, moved outside on the backstretch to gain ground, cut between rivals on the turn to gain some more, and launched a furious closing rally through the final furlong. The crowd was roaring at a deafening pitch but turned eerily quiet when the finish-line photo revealed that a Triple Crown bid had been denied by little more than an eyelash. A perfectly timed ride by Stevens reversed his personal defeat aboard Silver Charm in the 1997 Belmont.

2. Steve Cauthen, Affirmed, 1978 >>