America had a love affair with Smarty Jones. Over 120,000 people packed into Belmont Park to watch the chestnut colt, who had taken the Derby and won the Preakness by 11 1/2 lengths, chase history. It’s still the largest crowd in New York racing history. Smarty’s story also captivated the crowds: after the trainer of the horse’s owner, Roy Chapman, was murdered in 2001, Chapman scaled back his breeding operation near Philadelphia. He sold all but two of his horses, one of which was Smarty Jones. Smarty’s popularity made the Belmont result even harder to fathom: he appeared to have the race won, before Birdstone, a 36-1 longshot, caught him at the end.
Next Big Brown (2008)