05/31/2012 12:44PM

Triple Crown near-misses: Pleasant Colony, 1981

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Compared with Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony offered a more forthright tale. Even his trainer, the late Johnny Campo, had few delusions going into the 1981 Belmont after the colt had won the Wood Memorial by three, the Derby by three-quarters, and the roughly run Preakness by a length.

“The horse needed a break,” Campo said.

History, of course, does not allow for such luxuries. To that point there had been 22 horses win the Derby and the Preakness, and all but the two who had gone wrong – Burgoo King and Bold Venture – showed up for the Belmont.

Pleasant Colony still had all four legs under him and a pulse, so a break was out of the question. That his condition was hardly a secret was reflected by the 10 entered against him. As it turned out, Pleasant Colony and Jorge Velasquez found themselves slogging their way through the pack, coming from farther back than Campo had hoped, and never seeing any part of the lead.

Still, they were a game third, beaten less than two lengths by Summing and Highland Blade. For his efforts, Velasquez was bounced in favor of Angel Cordero, who later rode Pleasant Colony to a narrow loss in the Travers and an impressive victory in the Woodward.

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)