Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, sometimes shortened to Triple Crown, consists of three races for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses. Winning all three of these Thoroughbred horse races is considered the greatest accomplishment of a Thoroughbred racehorse. The term originated in mid-19th century England and different nations where thoroughbred racing is popular each have their own Triple Crown series.

The Triple Crown is considered to be one of the most difficult triumphs to attain in all of sports.  The three Grade 1 races run in May and early June of each year consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.  The complexity can be attributed to the grueling schedule of having to partake in three races within five weeks, each of which are at longer distances than the three-year-olds have previously run throughout their careers. The Belmont Stakes is extremely punishing as most thoroughbreds never run such a long distance (1 1/2 miles). TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS

  • Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown: The Triple Crown winners are Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), and American Pharoah (2015)

All three Triple Crown legs are open to three-year-old Thoroughbreds.   In all three races, colts and geldings carry 126 pounds and fillies carry 121 lbs.

Kentucky Derby-  (1 1⁄4-mile) held annually at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May.  The race is one and a quarter miles.  A new points system was started in 2012 for Kentucky Derby qualification.

The Preakness Stakes (1 3⁄16-mile) held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a Grade I race run over a distance of one and 3/16 miles.

The Belmont Stakes- (1 1⁄2-mile)  held every June at Belmont Park in Egmont, New York. It is  1.5 miles in length, the longest race the horses will probably ever run.  The race is the third and final leg of the US Triple Crown, following exactly five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. Consequently, it is run on Saturday, but never before June 5, nor after June 11.

Triple Crown Race Distances The Kentucky Derby is one and 1/4 miles, followed 2 weeks later by The Preakness, a little shorter at one and 3/16 miles.  Three weeks after the Preakness, the Belmont is the longest at one and 1/2 miles.

Triple Crown Winners Face Fresh Horses- Owners may decide to run their horse in all three races (if they are good enough) or in just one or possibly two legs of the Triple Crown.  Thus, a horse trying to win the Triple Crown will face horses in the Belmont that didn’t run in the Preakness two weeks previously.  This makes the Triple Crown even more elusive.

California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn was a bitter man after his horse lost the 2014 Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown  to Tonalist, which did not run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness.  His horse won the first two legs and Coburn didn’t think it was fair that horses were allowed to run in the Belmont even if they didn’t run in the Derby and Preakness.

Coburn, normally mild-mannered, said it was a “coward’s way out” that horses who don’t run the other two Triple Crown races come in fresh and win this.

“It’s all or nothing. It’s not fair to these horses that are running their guts out. This is a cowards’ way out,” Coburn said. “If you’ve got a horse that earns points, that runs in the Kentucky Derby, those horses should be the only ones who should run in all three races.” Read more

He later apologized for making his comments. On Good Morning America, he said was ashamed of himself for his rants after his horse came up short in its bid to win the first Triple Crown since 1978.  Coburn blamed his post-race tirade on his desire to make many people happy.  “This is America’s horse. I wanted it so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America,” he told ABC during an emotional interview in which he held back tears. “And I was very emotional.” Read more

Triple Crown Race Records

Fastest Kentucky Derby- The mighty Secretariat holds the record for fastest Kentucky Derby, which has held since his 1973 victory in the Run for the Roses.

Secretariat Finally Gets Preakness Record- Secretariat did not hold the record in the Preakness,  however, until 2012, even though experts at the race agreed his 1973 race was indeed record-setting. The official timer had malfunctioned and the Maryland Racing Commission refused to award the record to Secretariat, It took 39 years, a movie on Secretariat,  new technology leading to even more evidence, and a rule change which allowed the use of information beyond official clockings to determine race times to convince the commission to finally declare the fastest Preakness ever was run by the mighty Secretariat.

Fastest Belmont- The fastest Belmont Stakes was also clocked by Secretariat and since it is rare for horses to run one and a half miles anymore, this record might not be broken for a long time.  In the 1973 Belmont Stakes, Secretariat won the race by an amazing 31 lengths!

Interesting Facts

Sham- In the 1973 Kentucky Derby, Secretariat defeated Sham, who was runner-up in the Derby and Preakness, even though Sham ran one of the 4 fastest Kentucky Derby times recorded.

Alydar- In 1978, Alydar finished a close second to Triple Crown winner Affirmed in all three races, a feat not achieved before or repeated since. He has been described as the best horse in the history of Thoroughbred racing never to have won a championship.  In all three legs of the Triple Crown, Alydar lost to Affirmed by a combined total of less than two lengths.

Read Quiet was Real Close- In 1998, Real Quiet won the Derby and Preakness and was winning the Belmont, but could not hold on as Victory Gallop edged him out by a nose. Visa had offered $5 million to a Triple Crown winner, and owner Mike Pegram was just a nose away from that $5 million!

Seattle Slew-In 1977, Seattle Slew became the first horse to win the Triple Crown undefeated.

Triple Crown near misses:  A total of 22 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but did not win the Belmont.  Nine of these near misses have been since 1997. Big Brown just missed the Triple Crown when he was pulled up at Belmont in 2008. In 2012, I’ll Have Another won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but was scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes, due to tendonitis. In 2014, California Chrome finished in a tie for 4th place, extending the longest Triple Crown drought in history, which ended one year later when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015.

  • Since 1978, 13 horses have won the first two races, but have fallen short of the Triple Crown:  1979- Spectacular Bid, 1981- Pleasant Colony, 1987- Alysheba, 1989- Sunday Silence, 1997- Silver Charm, 1998- Real Quiet, 1999- Charismatic, 2002- War Emblem, 2003 Funny Cide, 2004- Smarty Jones, 2008- Big Brown, 2012- I’ll Have Another, 2014- California Chrome
  • There have been 46 horses who won two out of the three Triple Crown races but only 21 who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fail in the Belmont Stakes.
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Charismatic’s close finish, and others

Charismatic came out of a claiming race race 3 months before the Kentucky Derby and fired off as a 31-1 longshot, winning the 1999 Derby and Preakness. Charismatic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_(horse)  He was injured in the Belmont, but still finished 3rd, as jockey Chris Antley quickly dismounted and held up his leg, probably saving the horse’s life.  Sadly, Antley would be found dead less than 2 years later:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Antley 

Jockey Chris Antley dismounts to hold foot of Charismatic

Charismatic’s broken leg ends a promising racing career:  http://tinyurl.com/7wsv6mx

Video of the 1999 Belmont Stakes: http://tinyurl.com/83tlw7q

Charismatic is just one of many who have come close to winning the elusive Triple Crown: http://www.drf.com/news/triple-crown-near-misses-charismatic-1999

Triple Crown near-misses since the Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. (Click names below for information and videos)

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)

Almost- A list of all those who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but lost their triple crown chance in the Belmont Stakes. Click to open Pdf file: Triple Crown Almost

A game of numbers! I’ll Have Another!

Click on the photo for pedigree!

Interesting twist with the number 12, and I’ll Have Another draws number 11!

The following is taken from the link  below:

History could be made Saturday when Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another attempts to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner in racing history. Curiously, he also is the 12th horse to attempt to win all three Triple Crown races since Affirmed last turned the trick in 1978. Will the 12th time be the charm? Too bad I’ll Have Another drew post 11. Post 12 would have been more fitting, don’t you think?

Approaching this race we must remember that the Triple Crown is very, very difficult to win. That’s not a scoop, but sometimes we get caught up in the emotion of moment and forget that some tremendous horses have failed to win the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Check out the following link for a Belmont Stakes analysis and information on each horse:    Link: http://xpressbet.com/ReadOnTrack?id=4261

Secretariat Still Best Ever

Best Ever
Best Ever

His record still stands, Secretariat ran the fastest Kentucky Derby ever, in 1973.  Second fastest ever was Sham, who took 2nd that year to Secretariat.  This is one record that I hope will never fall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretariat_(horse)

Read through the above link for some amazing facts.  His huge heart, his burial, he was listed 35th on ESPN’s top 100 athletes of the 20th century.   His 31 length victory in the Belmont is still a record in G-1 races.

In the 1973 Kentucky Derby, on his way to a still-standing track record (1:59 2/5), he ran each quarter-mile segment faster than the one before it. The successive quarter-mile times were: 25 1/5, 24, 23 4/5, 23 2/5, and 23. This means he was still accelerating as of the final quarter-mile of the race. It would be 28 years before any other horse would win the Derby in less than 2 minutes (Monarchos  in 2001).

Secretariat was mourned by millions and buried at Clairborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, given the rare honor of being buried whole; usually only the head, heart and hooves of a winning race horse are buried, the rest cremated. Post-mortem exam showed that his heart weighed 22 pounds, the largest ever recorded for a racehorse.

Here’s to you Big Red!