05/31/2012 1:04PM

Triple Crown near-misses: Real Quiet, 1998

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Barbara D. Livingston
Real Quiet (inside) is caught by Victory Gallop inside the final yards of the 1998 Belmont, falling a nose short of the Triple Crown.

Real Quiet and Victory Gallop descended upon Belmont Park for the 1998 Belmont Stakes with best act in the business. They’d already run 1-2 in the Derby and the Preakness, and the third leg figured to offer more of the same.

Victory Gallop, though, was more than just a striving second banana. His people had their eyes on top billing, and Real Quiet, let’s face it, was trying to become the most blue-collar Triple Crown winner in history, having once lost a race in New Mexico.

With trainer Bob Baffert back for a second straight shot at the Crown, Real Quiet received the most of the attention. But check out the rider on Victory Gallop – Gary Stevens, last seen at the Belmont mourning the loss of Silver Charm.

“Sure I was rooting for Real Quiet to win the Triple Crown,” Stevens said, both before and after the race. “But if he was going to be beaten, I wanted to make sure I was the one to do it.”

He did it, but not before Kent Desormeaux and Real Quiet had sprung loose by daunting daylight midway through the Belmont stretch. Then they started gasping for air, as the mile and a half took its toll. Inside the final 100 yards Victory Gallop drew abreast and dropped his nose first at the line. No horse ever lost the Triple Crown by less.

After the race Art Preston, who owned Victory Gallop with brothers Jack and J.R., offered a cold-eyed assessment of the events that turned Real Quiet from potential legend into historical footnote.

“If he’d been a champion he’d have beaten us two or three lengths, like he did before,” Preston said. “You’ve got to have a super horse, without a weakness. That’s the way it always works with the Triple Crown.”

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)  

 

Marc Estrich More than 1 year ago
I was there for all of these except Big Brown. I always felt Real Quiet fouled Victory Gallop repeatedly down the stretch and if VG hadn't got by the Stewards really should have DQ'd Real Quiet. Just my opinion. What a riot that would have been!!!
Max Power More than 1 year ago
Yeah - who knows what WOULD have actually happened (I cringe in barely, just barely, agreeing that had Real Quiet won that photo he should have come down - but again, who knows).
Max Power More than 1 year ago
No horse has ever done more on the track in terms of heart & grit & performance with less God-given athletic talent & physique than Real Quiet. This horse has never received his proper due - Grade 1 winner at 2, 3, 4. The on-track Maryland call of his Preakness victory is astounding, find it on youtube, trust me. His race against Victory Gallop in the Belmont is a Top 10 race of all-time, all guts this guy.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Totally agree. Real Quiet won the gr.1 Hollywood Futurity at 2, the Derby and Preakness at 3, and the Pimlico Special and Hollywood Gold Cup at 4. He didn't win often, but he won big races and he usually put in an honest run.