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Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States)

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Title: Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States)  
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Subject: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Secretariat (horse), Ron Turcotte, Caroline County, Virginia, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bozeman, Montana, Sackets Harbor, New York, Elmont, New York
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Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States)

Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner, at the 1919 Preakness Stakes.

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.

While Daily Racing Form writer Charles Hatton is commonly credited with originating the term to reference these races in 1930, they were referred to by that name at least as early as 1923.[1] The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.

Only eleven 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 eleven 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).


Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes.[2] 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.

Race Date Current Track Location Distance Inaugurated
Kentucky Derby First Saturday in May Churchill Downs Louisville, Kentucky 1 14 miles (2,000 m) 1875
Preakness Stakes Third Saturday in May Pimlico Race Course Baltimore, Maryland 1 316 (1,911 m) 1873
Belmont Stakes Third Saturday following the Preakness (first or second Saturday in June) Belmont Park Elmont, New York 1 12 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 2014 season, the three Triple Crown races have attracted 4,144 entrants. Of these, 289 horses have won a single leg of the Triple Crown, 52 horses have won two of the races (23 the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, 18 the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, and 11 the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes), and 11 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.

Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Breeder
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.

Eddie Arcaro is the only jockey to ride two horses to the Triple Crown, jockeying 1941 winner Whirlaway and 1948 winner Citation.


Secretariat holds the time record for each of the Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), the Preakness Stakes (1:53), and the Belmont Stakes (2:24)[3][4]

Individual Triple Crown achievements

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

Two trainers, John Vietch and Bob Baffert, have had horses place second in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Veitch in 1978 with Alydar, who in a famous rivalry with Affirmed (Affirmed won the Triple Crown that year) is the only horse to have placed second in all three races. In 2012 Bob Baffert followed suit with two different horses. Bodemeister finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness stakes, then opted out of the Belmont Stakes to rest for the summer. Instead other Baffert trainee Paynter was entered and finished second to Union Rags.[5]

Individual race winners

Denotes horses which won 2 of the 3 Triple Crown races
Denotes winners of the Triple Crown
Year Kentucky Derby Preakness Stakes Belmont Stakes
1867 Ruthless
1868 General Duke
1869 Fenian
1870 Kingfisher
1871 Harry Bassett
1872 Joe Daniels
1873 Survivor Springbok
1874 Culpepper Saxon
1875 Aristides Tom Ochiltree Calvin
1876 Vagrant Shirley Algerine
1877 Baden-Baden Cloverbrook Cloverbrook
1878 Day Star Duke of Magenta Duke of Magenta
1879 Lord Murphy Harold Spendthrift
1880 Fonso Grenada Grenada
1881 Hindoo Saunterer Saunterer
1882 Apollo Vanguard Forester
1883 Leonatus Jacobus George Kinney
1884 Buchanan Knight of Ellerslie Panique
1885 Joe Cotton Tecumseh Tyrant
1886 Ben Ali The Bard Inspector B
1887 Montrose Dunboyne Hanover
1888 Macbeth II Refund Sir Dixon
1889 Spokane Buddhist Eric
1890 Riley Montague[1] Burlington
1891 Kingman RNR Foxford
1892 Azra RNR Patron
1893 Lookout RNR Commanche
1894 Chant Assignee[2] Henry of Navarre
1895 Halma Belmar[2] Belmar
1896 Ben Brush Margrave[2] Hastings
1897 Typhoon II Paul Kauvar[2] Scottish Chieftain
1898 Plaudit Sly Fox[2] Bowling Brook
1899 Manuel Half Time[2] Jean Bereaud
1900 Lieut. Gibson Hindus[2] Ildrim
1901 His Eminence The Parader[2] Commando
1902 Alan-a-Dale Old England[2] Masterman
1903 Judge Himes Flocarline[2] Africander
1904 Elwood Bryn Mawr[2] Delhi
1905 Agile Cairngorm[2] Tanya
1906 Sir Huon Whimsical[2] Burgomaster
1907 Pink Star Don Enrique[2] Peter Pan I
1908 Stone Street Royal Tourist[2] Colin
1909 Wintergreen Effendi Joe Madden
1910 Donau Layminster Sweep
1911 Meridian Watervale RNR
1912 Worth Colonel Holloway RNR
1913 Donerail Buskin Prince Eugene
1914 Old Rosebud Holiday Luke McLuke
1915 Regret Rhine Maiden The Finn
1916 George Smith Damrosch Friar Rock
1917 Omar Khayyam[3] Kalitan[3] Hourless
1918 Exterminator War Cloud[4]
Jack Hare, Jr.[4]
1919 Sir Barton Sir Barton Sir Barton
1920 Paul Jones Man o' War Man o' War
1921 Behave Yourself Broomspun Grey Lag
1922 Morvich[3] Pillory[3] Pillory
1923 Zev Vigil Zev
1924 Black Gold Nellie Morse Mad Play
1925 Flying Ebony Coventry American Flag
1926 Bubbling Over Display Crusader
1927 Whiskery Bostonian Chance Shot
1928 Reigh Count Victorian Vito
1929 Clyde Van Dusen Dr. Freeland Blue Larkspur
1930 Gallant Fox Gallant Fox Gallant Fox
1931 Twenty Grand Mate Twenty Grand
1932 Burgoo King Burgoo King Faireno
1933 Brokers Tip Head Play Hurryoff
1934 Cavalcade High Quest Peace Chance
1935 Omaha Omaha Omaha
1936 Bold Venture Bold Venture Granville
1937 War Admiral War Admiral War Admiral
1938 Lawrin Dauber Pasteurized
1939 Johnstown Challedon Johnstown
1940 Gallahadion Bimelech Bimelech
1941 Whirlaway Whirlaway Whirlaway
1942 Shut Out Alsab Shut Out
1943 Count Fleet Count Fleet Count Fleet
1944 Pensive Pensive Bounding Home
1945 Hoop Jr. Polynesian Pavot
1946 Assault Assault Assault
1947 Jet Pilot Faultless Phalanx
1948 Citation Citation Citation
1949 Ponder Capot Capot
1950 Middleground Hill Prince Middleground
1951 Count Turf Bold Counterpoint
1952 Hill Gail Blue Man One Count
1953 Dark Star Native Dancer Native Dancer
1954 Determine Hasty Road High Gun
1955 Swaps Nashua Nashua
1956 Needles Fabius Needles
1957 Iron Liege Bold Ruler Gallant Man
1958 Tim Tam Tim Tam Cavan
1959 Tomy Lee Royal Orbit Sword Dancer
1960 Venetian Way Bally Ache Celtic Ash
1961 Carry Back Carry Back Sherluck
1962 Decidedly Greek Money Jaipur
1963 Chateaugay Candy Spots Chateaugay[5]
1964 Northern Dancer Northern Dancer Quadrangle[5]
1965 Lucky Debonair Tom Rolfe Hail To All[5]
1966 Kauai King Kauai King Amberoid[5]
1967 Proud Clarion Damascus Damascus[5]
1968 Forward Pass[6] Forward Pass Stage Door Johnny
1969 Majestic Prince Majestic Prince Arts and Letters
1970 Dust Commander Personality High Echelon
1971 Canonero II Canonero II Pass Catcher
1972 Riva Ridge Bee Bee Bee Riva Ridge
1973 Secretariat Secretariat Secretariat
1974 Cannonade Little Current Little Current
1975 Foolish Pleasure Master Derby Avatar
1976 Bold Forbes Elocutionist Bold Forbes
1977 Seattle Slew Seattle Slew Seattle Slew
1978 Affirmed Affirmed Affirmed
1979 Spectacular Bid Spectacular Bid Coastal
1980 Genuine Risk Codex Temperence Hill
1981 Pleasant Colony Pleasant Colony Summing
1982 Gato Del Sol Aloma's Ruler Conquistador Cielo
1983 Sunny's Halo Deputed Testamony Caveat
1984 Swale Gate Dancer Swale
1985 Spend A Buck Tank's Prospect Creme Fraiche
1986 Ferdinand Snow Chief Danzig Connection
1987 Alysheba Alysheba Bet Twice
1988 Winning Colors Risen Star Risen Star
1989 Sunday Silence Sunday Silence Easy Goer
1990 Unbridled Summer Squall Go And Go
1991 Strike the Gold Hansel Hansel
1992 Lil E. Tee Pine Bluff A.P. Indy
1993 Sea Hero Prairie Bayou Colonial Affair
1994 Go for Gin Tabasco Cat Tabasco Cat
1995 Thunder Gulch Timber Country Thunder Gulch
1996 Grindstone Louis Quatorze Editor's Note
1997 Silver Charm Silver Charm Touch Gold
1998 Real Quiet Real Quiet Victory Gallop
1999 Charismatic Charismatic Lemon Drop Kid
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus Red Bullet Commendable
2001 Monarchos Point Given Point Given
2002 War Emblem War Emblem Sarava
2003 Funny Cide Funny Cide Empire Maker
2004 Smarty Jones Smarty Jones Birdstone
2005 Giacomo Afleet Alex Afleet Alex
2006 Barbaro Bernardini Jazil
2007 Street Sense Curlin Rags to Riches
2008 Big Brown Big Brown Da' Tara
2009 Mine That Bird Rachel Alexandra Summer Bird
2010 Super Saver Lookin at Lucky Drosselmeyer
2011 Animal Kingdom Shackleford Ruler on Ice
2012 I'll Have Another I'll Have Another Union Rags[7]
2013 Orb Oxbow Palace Malice
2014 California Chrome California Chrome Tonalist


  1. ^ The 1890 Preakness Stakes was held at Morris Park Racecourse in The Bronx, New York.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o From 1894 to 1908, the Preakness Stakes were held at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, New York.
  3. ^ a b c d In 1917 and 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were held on the same day.
  4. ^ a b The 1918 Preakness Stakes was held in two divisions due to a large field. War Cloud won one and Jack Hare, Jr. the other.
  5. ^ a b c d e Due to reconstruction at Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes were held at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York from 1963 to 1967.
  6. ^ Dancer's Image was disqualified as the winner of the 1968 due to a failed drug test.
  7. ^ 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.

Thirty-six-year drought

Big Brown, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, at the 2008 Belmont Stakes, where he was pulled up.

The longest drought in Triple Crown history began with Spectacular Bid's failed Triple Crown attempt at the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1979, and still remains that way. There had not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed won it on June 10, 1978. Since then, thirteen 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 six 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, I'll Have Another in 2012, and California Chrome in 2014.

As far back as 1986, reporters noted that horses who were fresh for the Belmont had an advantage.[6] 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.[7] California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn was particularly critical of the Triple Crown system during post-race remarks made on NBC in 2014; he considered the system to be unfair, arguing that there would never be another Triple Crown winner in his lifetime unless only horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness competed at the Belmont. Including Tonalist, six of the previous eight Belmont winners did not compete the either of first two legs of the Triple Crown.[8] Additionally, from 2005 to 2014, the Belmont winner has been a horse who did not compete in the Preakness.[9]

Several horses have won two of the three races since the last Triple Crown win, including 13 that won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but lost the Belmont. 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. Unusual situations occurred in 1995, when Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, but 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. In 2009, jockey Calvin Borel had the opportunity to win a Triple Crown on two different horses. Borel won the Kentucky Derby on Mine that Bird, and the Preakness aboard filly Rachel Alexandra. Borel finished third aboard Mine that Bird in the Belmont.

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.

Gallant Fox is the only triple crown winner to sire another US triple crown winner, Omaha. Affirmed sired Peteski, winner of the 1993 Canadian Triple Crown.[10]

Belmont outcomes 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 to Bet Twice
  • 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. Charismatic was pulled up soon after the finish and vanned off with a career ending injury.
  • 2002: War Emblem stumbles at gate, finishes eighth out of 11. Winner Sarava scored the upset at record odds of 70/1
  • 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 to Da' Tara. 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.
  • 2014: California Chrome is stepped on by another horse leaving the gate, runs the race with an injury to his heel and a scrape on his tendon, and finishes in a dead heat for fourth out of 11.[11]


Years Sponsor Bonuses
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.[12]

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.[13][14][15]

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).

See also


  1. ^ Liebman, Bennett (April 24, 2008). "Origins of Triple Crown". The New York Times (New York, NY). Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ "History & Tradition of the Triple Crown". OD Action. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sham: In the Shadow of a Superhorse". California Thoroughbred. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ Hegarty, Matt (June 19, 2012). "Secretariat awarded Preakness record at 1:53 after review". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ "2012 Kentucky Derby -- I'll Have Another rallies to win at Churchill Downs - ESPN". Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Courier - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  7. ^ Charlie Rose (July 21, 2003). "A rebroadcast of a discussion about the film Seabiscuit". Charlie Rose. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Brennan: Cherry-pick races and Triple Crown extinct". USA Todat. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Betting against California Chrome? Fresh horses typically win Belmont Stakes". Newsday. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Canadian Triple Crown Winner Peteski Dies from Colic". April 8, 2001. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ Claire Novak (June 8, 2014). Chrome' Co-Owner Has No Regrets for Comments"'". Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Triple Crown". Keno Racing. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. 
  13. ^ "News and Information from Northampton, MA by the Daily Hampshire Gazette -". Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ Sharrow, Ryan (February 22, 2011). "NBC re-ups deal to carry Preakness through 2015". 
  15. ^ "NBC Signs Five Year Deal To Televise Belmont Stakes". Retrieved October 3, 2014. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Triple Crown Mania
  • Triple Crown Winners – slideshow by Life magazine
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