05/31/2012 1:09PM

Triple Crown near-misses: Charismatic, 1999

Michael J. Marten
Jockey Chris Antley holds the injured left foreleg of Charismatic after the horse crossed the finish line third in the 1999 Belmont.

Charismatic, bursting upon the scene in 1999, was not the first headline horse to come to a bad ending in the Belmont Stakes.

In 1941, on his way to a 25-length win and the Triple Crown, Count Fleet rapped his right foreleg severely enough to end his brilliant career. In 1958, also going for the Triple Crown, Tim Tam shattered the sesamoids of his right foreleg while finishing second and never raced again.

The following year Peter Pan winner Black Hills broke down in the mud at the top of the stretch and was euthanized. In 1967, Canadian champion Cool Reception fractured a cannon bone and still finished second to Damascus. Santa Anita Derby winner Sham never ran again after Secretariat got through with him in the 1973 Belmont, and Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect could not finish the muddy Belmont of 1985, having ruptured the suspensory ligaments in his right fore. Preakness winner Prairie Bayou broke his left fore cannon bone below the knee on the backstretch of the 1993 Belmont and could not be saved. Belmont favorite Cavonnier, the Santa Anita Derby winner and Kentucky Derby second, was pulled up on the final turn in 1996 with a bowed tendon.

It’s a tough race, especially for fast horses who already have been through a searching campaign. Charismatic, trained by Wayne Lukas, raced for a $62,500 claiming tag in February 1999, was off the board in the Santa Anita Derby, then put together an intense cluster of outstanding efforts, winning the Lexington Stakes, the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness in the space of 27 days.

After pressing the pace of champion filly Silverbulletday, Charismatic was still trying to win the Belmont when he sustained multiple fractures of his left foreleg. After crossing the line third, behind Lemon Drop Kid and Vision and Verse, he was quickly pulled up in front of the stands by Chris Antley, who jumped off the red colt and cradled the injured leg until help arrived. The Triple Crown was lost, but Charismatic was saved.

Triple Crown near-misses

Spectacular Bid (1979) Pleasant Colony (1981) Alysheba (1987) Sunday Silence (1989)
Silver Charm (1997) Real Quiet (1998) Charismatic (1999) War Emblem (2002)
Funny Cide (2003) Smarty Jones (2004) Big Brown (2008)