United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing
In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the “Triple Crown”, is a series of three Thoroughbred horse races for three-year-old horses run in May and early June of each year consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown, none since 1978. Of the trainers of those eleven horses, "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons won the Triple Crown twice (the only trainer to do so), and another trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, scored a Triple Crown as a trainer in sweeping the 1995 races with different horses, the only individual to do so.
The 11 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), and Affirmed (1978).
The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.
Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior to 1931, the Preakness Stakes was run before the Kentucky Derby eleven times. On May 12, 1917, and again on May 13, 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were run on the same day.
|Kentucky Derby||First Saturday in May||Churchill Downs||Louisville, Kentucky||1 1⁄4 miles (2,000 m)||1875|
|Preakness Stakes||Third Saturday in May||Pimlico Race Course||Baltimore, Maryland||1 3⁄16 (1,911 m)||1873|
|Belmont Stakes||Third Saturday following the Preakness (first or second Saturday in June)||Belmont Park||Elmont, New York||1 1⁄2 miles (2,400 m)||1867|
While there is a similar series of races specifically for fillies, the "Triple Tiara", each Triple Crown race is open to both colts and fillies. Unlike the British and all but one of the French Classics, the races are also open to geldings. All the races are held on dirt tracks, rather than the turf commonly used for important races in Europe.
Winners of the Triple Crown
At completion of the 2008 season, the three Triple Crown races have attracted 3,889 entrants. Of these, 274 horses have won a single leg of the Triple Crown, 50 horses have won two of the races (21 the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, 18 the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, and 11 the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes), and eleven horses have won all three races. Pillory won both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1922, a year when it was impossible to win the Triple Crown because the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were run on the same day.
|1919||Sir Barton||Johnny Loftus||H. Guy Bedwell||J. K. L. Ross||John E. Madden|
|1930||Gallant Fox||Earl Sande||Jim Fitzsimmons||Belair Stud||Belair Stud|
|1935||Omaha||Willie "Smokey" Saunders||Jim Fitzsimmons||Belair Stud||Belair Stud|
|1937||War Admiral||Charley Kurtsinger||George H. Conway||Samuel D. Riddle||Samuel D. Riddle|
|1941||Whirlaway||Eddie Arcaro||Ben A. Jones||Calumet Farm||Calumet Farm|
|1943||Count Fleet||Johnny Longden||Don Cameron||Fannie Hertz||Fannie Hertz|
|1946||Assault||Warren Mehrtens||Max Hirsch||King Ranch||King Ranch|
|1948||Citation||Eddie Arcaro||Horace A. Jones||Calumet Farm||Calumet Farm|
|1973||Secretariat||Ron Turcotte||Lucien Laurin||Meadow Stable||Meadow Stud|
|1977||Seattle Slew||Jean Cruguet||William H. Turner, Jr.||Karen L. Taylor||Ben S. Castleman|
|1978||Affirmed||Steve Cauthen||Laz Barrera||Harbor View Farm||Harbor View Farm|
Jim Fitzsimmons is the only trainer to have two horses win the Triple Crown, training the sire/son combination of 1930 winner Gallant Fox and 1935 winner Omaha. This also marked the first time that an owner and the first time that a breeder, Belair Stud holding both duties, would have a repeat win of the Triple Crown.
Secretariat holds the record for each of the Triple Crown races.
Individual Triple Crown winners
In 1995, D. Wayne Lukas became the first and only major figure (owner, jockey, or trainer) to sweep the Triple Crown races with different horses.
|Year||Person||Type||Kentucky Derby||Preakness Stakes||Belmont Stakes|
|1995||D. Wayne Lukas||Trainer||Thunder Gulch||Timber Country||Thunder Gulch|
One jockey, Calvin Borel, has taken two of the Triple Crown races in the same year with different horses. In 2009, he took the Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird and the Preakness Stakes with Rachel Alexandra. He rode Mine That Bird to a show finish at the Belmont Stakes.
One trainer, Bob Baffert, has been a runner-up in all three races in one year with two different horses. In 2012, his horse Bodemeister finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness stakes, and in the Belmont Stakes, his horse Paynter was in second place when Union Rags got ahead of him in the last few hundred yards. The only other Triple Crown runner-up trainer is John Veitch (1978) with one horse, Alydar.
Individual race winners
|Denotes horses which won 2 of the 3 Triple Crown races|
|Denotes winners of the Triple Crown|
- The 1890 Preakness Stakes was held at Morris Park Racecourse in The Bronx, New York.
- From 1894 to 1908, the Preakness Stakes were held at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, New York.
- In 1917 and 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were held on the same day.
- The 1918 Preakness Stakes was held in two divisions due to a large field. War Cloud won one and Jack Hare, Jr. the other.
- Due to reconstruction at Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes were held at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York from 1963 to 1967.
- Dancer's Image was disqualified as the winner of the 1968 due to a failed drug test.
- I'll Have Another was scratched the afternoon prior to the Belmont due to tendonitis and was unable to attempt to win the race.
- ♥ Fillies won the Kentucky Derby in 1915, 1980, and 1988, Preakness Stakes in 1903, 1906, 1915, 1924, and 2009, and Belmont Stakes in 1867, 1905, and 2007.
- RNR Race not run. The Belmont was not run in 1911 and 1912 due to anti-betting legislation passed in New York State. The Preakness did not run 1891–1893.
There has not been a Triple Crown winner since June 7, 1978, and this is the longest drought in Triple Crown history. Since 1978, eleven horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Of those, Real Quiet has come the closest to winning the Triple Crown, losing the Belmont Stakes by a nose in 1998. Charismatic led the Belmont Stakes in the final furlong in 1999, but fractured his left front leg in the final stretch and fell back to third. The five most recent horses to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but either lost or withdrew from the Belmont Stakes were War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, Big Brown in 2008, and I'll Have Another in 2012.
In 2003, Gary Stevens stated in an interview with Charlie Rose that he did not believe there would be another Triple Crown winner because of the tendency for owners to put fresh horses in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. After Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby in 2008, Stevens said: “It’s been 30 years since we had our last Triple Crown winner – it’s time for another.”
Several horses have won two of the three races since the last Triple Crown win, including several that won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but lost the Belmont Stakes. In 2012, I'll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, was scratched from the Belmont Stakes, due to concerns about a possible foot injury. The most unusual of those situations was in 1995, when Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and stablemate Timber Country won the Preakness Stakes. Both horses were trained by D. Wayne Lukas, making him the only Triple Crown-winning trainer without a Triple Crown-winning horse.
Only one horse, Alydar, has placed (finished second) in all three races. He was defeated by Affirmed in all three races in 1978 by a combined margin of two lengths. In addition, Mane Minister finished third in each race in 1991, and Hawkster finished fifth in each race in 1989.
Belmont results for potential Triple Crown winners since 1979
- 1979: Spectacular Bid shows, 3¼ lengths behind the winner, Coastal, a neck behind the second-place horse, Golden Act.
- 1981: Pleasant Colony shows, 1½ lengths behind the winner, Summing, and the second-place horse, Highland Blade.
- 1987: Alysheba finishes fourth.
- 1989: Sunday Silence places, 8 lengths behind the winner, Easy Goer.
- 1997: Silver Charm places, a half length behind the winner, Touch Gold.
- 1998: Real Quiet places, after a photo finish, a nose behind the winner, Victory Gallop.
- 1999: Charismatic shows, 1½ lengths behind the winner, Lemon Drop Kid, and the second-place horse, Vision and Verse.
- 2002: War Emblem stumbles at gate, finishes eighth out of 11.
- 2003: Funny Cide shows, 5 lengths behind winner, Empire Maker, & 4¼ lengths behind second-place horse, Ten Most Wanted.
- 2004: Smarty Jones places, one length behind the winner, Birdstone.
- 2008: Big Brown, with a cracked hoof, is pulled up in the home stretch, loping to a last-place finish. Scored as a DNF.
- 2012: I'll Have Another wins the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but is scratched from the Belmont Stakes the day before the race due to a potential foot injury.
|1987–1993||Chrysler Corporation||$1 million (best overall record)
$5 million (three wins)
|1998–2005||Visa USA||$5 million (three wins)|
|2006 – present||Triple Crown Productions||(no bonus)|
On May 21, 2005, the Visa credit card company withdrew its sponsorship of the Triple Crown, effective 2006. It relieved Visa of paying the $5 million bonus to the owner of a horse that would win the Triple Crown. Triple Crown Productions has sponsored the races since 2006. The $5 million bonus no longer remains intact.[dead link]
Many believe Visa withdrew its sponsorship as a result of the New York Racing Association's decision to break with the other two tracks on a television contract. On October 4, 2004, NYRA announced that ABC and ESPN would hold television rights to the Belmont Stakes, breaking from Triple Crown Productions' deal with NBC Sports. Eventually the Belmont would become a part of the ESPN on ABC rebranding of the ABC Sports division under ESPN's purview.
In February 2011 ESPN dropped out of the next cycle for Belmont rights, allowing NBC to take rights for the Belmont and re-up for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness until 2015, uniting all three races on the same network.
Triple Crown Productions was formed in 1986 with ABC. Prior to that, the individual racing associations made their own deals with the television networks (ABC and CBS).
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- Liebman, Bennett (April 24, 2008). "Origins of Triple Crown". The New York Times (New York, NY). Retrieved May 9, 2009.
- "History & Tradition of the Triple Crown". OD Action. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/1878, July 21, 2003, retrieved April 6, 2010
- http://www.horseraceinsider.com/Press-Release/article/monster-horse-big-brown-seeking-first-triple-crown-in-30-years/. retrieved 5/16/2001.
- "Canadian Triple Crown Winner Peteski Dies from Colic". BloodHorse.com. April 8, 2001. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- Sharrow, Ryan (February 22, 2011). "NBC re-ups deal to carry Preakness through 2015".
- Official website
- BloodHorse.com Triple Crown Mania
- Triple Crown Winners – slideshow by Life magazine