There has been no Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
The loss cost Smarty Jones's owners a $5 million Triple Crown bonus posted by Visa and untold potential future revenue in the colt's expected stud career.
"He ran his race," said Smarty Jones's jockey, Stewart Elliott. "He just didn't win."
"I'm very sorry for all the connections of Smarty Jones," said Edgar Prado, who rode Birdstone to a 1-lengthvictory. "But I had to do my job ... I'm sorry it had to be me."
Smarty Jones, starting from the outside post position in afield of nine, got to a pressured lead as the horses hit the long backstretch. He disposed of Purge and Rock Hard Ten.
Eddington put in a bid but couldn't stay with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner. By the time he turned into the stretch, the only thing between Smarty Jones and immortality was Birdstone, making a run on the outside.
"I saw him coming but we just couldn't hold him off," Elliott said.