California Chrome and Victor Espinoza, right, and Ride On Curlin and Joel Rosario, left, finished 1-2 in the Preakness, but fourth and 11th in the Belmont. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In an era when U.S. thoroughbreds were more robust, it was routine for horses to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown series. Trainers weren’t concerned about giving their horses plenty of rest between races. On the contrary. They often gave a horse a prep race within a week or so of the Belmont Stakes to make them extra sharp. In 1982, Conquistador Cielo won a stakes race on Memorial Day and came back five days later to run away with the Belmont.

The sport has changed dramatically in this respect. Few horses run in all three races; unless a horse has won the Kentucky Derby, many trainers opt to skip the Preakness so a horse can be fresh for the demands of the 1½-mile Belmont five weeks later. This practice may suggest that trainers have become overly conservative, but the Belmont results verify that their caution is warranted.

Since 2006, 23 horses who competed in the Preakness have come back to race in the Belmont Stakes three weeks later. (Some also ran in the Derby; some didn’t). All 23 lost, including Preakness winners California Chrome (2014), Oxbow (2013), Shackleford (2011), Big Brown (2008) and Curlin (2007.) All but two had a worse finishing position in the Belmont than in the Preakness.

The record of horses going from the Preakness to the Belmont since 2006:

Year Horse Preakness finish Belmont finish
2014 California Chrome 1 4
Ride on Curlin 2 11
General a Rod 4 7
2013 Oxbow 1 2
Orb 4 3
Will Take Charge 7 10
2012 Optimizer 6 10
2011 Shackleford 1 5
Animal Kingdom 2 6
Mucho Macho Man 6 7
Isn’t He Perfect 9 12
2010 First Dude 2 3
2009 Mine That Bird 2 3
Luv Gov 8 5
Flying Private 4 6
2008 Big Brown 1 9
Macho Again 2 5
Ichabod Crane 3 5
2007 Curlin 1 2
Hard Spun 3 4
C P West 4 5
 2006 Hemingway’s Key 3 6
Platinum Couple 6 7

More horse racing coverage:

Andrew Beyer’s analysis chart: The 147th Belmont Stakes

Beyer Speed Figures in Belmont

Dale Romans: Triple Crown sleeperPletcher’s Belmont record

Nogales, Ariz. to New York: The border-town roots of Baffert’s success

Coming up short of Triple Crown can haunt the jockey for years

Video: Jockey Ron Franklin on why the Triple Crown is so difficult to win

Beyer: What happened to the Belmont? Breeders de-emphasized stamina

Triple Crown drought remarkable, but not unexplainable | Beyer columns

Watch how Triple Crown bids have ended in the Belmont, since 1978

Graphic: Breaking down each race in which a Triple Crown hopeful missed