Triple Crown Near-Misses: Carry Back – Another Belmont Casualty

Carry Back

Carry Back didn’t look like a Triple Crown winner when he first debuted on the track, winning only two of his first sixteen races as a 2-year-old. But his trainer, Jack Price, thought running the young colt even more would do the trick, and finally, something clicked.

Running from off the pace – a style that would become his signature move – he won the Cowdin Stakes, Garden State Futurity and Remsen Stakes later in the year, challenging Hail to Reason as Champion 2-Year-Old.

Described by reporters as “scrawny,” the colt was only 15 hands high and weighed less than 1,000 pounds. Entering his 3-year-old campaign, he was hit-and-miss early. He won the Everglades Stakes and the Florida Derby, but finished second and third in the Wood Memorial and Fountain of Youth Stakes, respectively. Despite his losses, Carry Back was the favorite going into the Kentucky Derby, partly because the crowd loved his come-from-behind style, reminiscent of Silky Sullivan a few years earlier.

The Comeback Kid

Carry Back didn’t disappoint. Trailing pacesetter Globemaster by 18 lengths along the backstretch, the colt slowly began to eat up real estate, passing horse after horse as Crozier took the lead from Globemaster. He went wide on the turn but was still 13 lengths behind. Jockey Johnny Sellers let loose his reins, applied the whip, and Carry Back reacted as if he was shot out of a cannon. He was making up ground but was still 4 1/2 lengths behind with one furlong to go. Did he have enough room to catch Crozier?

In one last desperate run, Carry Back passed Crozier in the final strides and won by 3/4 of a length, completing one of the most dramatic come-from-behind victories in Derby history.

2 for 3

The Preakness Stakes was almost a carbon copy of the Derby. Once again, Globemaster shot out to an early lead, and Carry Back languished 15 lengths behind. He began to make his move earlier this time, and he and Crozier were neck and neck as they battled for second place heading into the homestretch. At the furlong pole, Carry Back was again four lengths off the lead.

In an instant, the horse left Crozier behind and went after Globemaster, making up the largest deficit with one furlong to go in Preakness history. He won again by 3/4 of a length.

Injury in the Belmont

By now the horse racing nation was crazy about Carry Back. Bettors called him “The People’s Choice” and made him the 2-5 favorite to take the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown – the first in 13 years.

And at first, it shaped up like the other two races: Globemaster in front, Carry Back far behind – this time, only 9 lengths back – but he was pinned to the rail by two other horses. But even when given a clear ride, Carry Back didn’t fire. He was 13 lengths behind at the final furlong pole, and Sherluck, a 65-1 long shot, overtook Globemaster to win the Belmont in a shocker. Carry Back finished seventh in the nine-horse field.

Later, when Carry Back made the trip back to Monmouth Park, he was noticeably lame. Reviews of closed-circuit television replays showed the colt favoring his left foreleg. X-rays came back negative, but it was more than a month before the horse came back to win an allowance race. 

He won the Jerome and Trenton handicaps later that year en route to 3-Year-Old Male Horse of the Year honors. He continued racing at 4 and 5, eventually becoming only the fourth horse to surpass $1 million in earnings. His final record: 61: 21-11-11.