Triple Crown Winners
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Post Position #6 |
Close but no cigar- Near Misses
is no longer necessary to prove that the Triple Crown is the
most elusive prize in sports. It has been 32 years since
Affirmed, the latest of eleven Thoroughbreds in history,
achieved the prestigious feat in 1978. There have been but three
Triple Crown winners since Citation in 1948.
There was one spell, a quarter
of a century, from Citation in 1948 until 1973, that brought
talk of tinkering with the scheduling or devising some sort of
relief to make the Triple Crown more accessible because it
seemed it would never again be won. Then Secretariat came along
and romped through the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1973.
When Funny Cide lost the
potential Triple Crown at the 2003 Belmont Stakes, a new time
elapsed record was set. Six times in the last eight years a
horse has gone to New York with a chance at a $5 million dollar
bonus only to falter in the "Test of a Champion".
The intriguing series of spring
races is over 125 years old with the prize becoming available in
1875, with the first running of the Kentucky Derby, the last of
the Triple Crown events to be introduced. The Preakness dates
back to 1873, while the Belmont Stakes began in 1867.
First Triple Crown Winner, 1919
Chestnut colt, 1916 by *Star Shoot-Lady Sterling, by
J. K. L. Ross, Owner
Madden and Gooch, Breeder
M. G. Bedwell, Trainer
A Genuine Iron
Barton, a foal of 1916 bred by Preston Madden, was born too
soon. He was never hailed as a Triple Crown winner because
the feat had not been named when he swept the Derby,
Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1919. "Triple Crown" began
appearing in print about 1936, far too late for Sir Barton.
Commander J. K. L. Ross, who
owned a farm in Maryland where the former Freestate harness
track was located, purchased Sir Barton for $10,000 as a
2-year-old at Saratoga. Ross had an outstanding 3-year-old
prospect in 1919 - Billy Kelly - but Sir Barton, his
stablemate, who had never won a race, was started in the
Derby as part of the Ross entry.
Sir Barton broke on top in
the Derby and never looked back. Perhaps more amazing, Sir
Barton was immediately shipped to Pimlico because that year
the Maryland classic was run on Wednesday, just four days
after the Derby. Once again the unheralded Sir Barton
galloped home by four lengths in a display of stamina. In
the Belmont, he set an American record of 2:17 2/5 for the
mile and three-eighths, the distance then.
Second Triple Crown Winner, 1930
Bay colt, 1927 by *Sir Gallahad
III-Marguerite, by Celt
Belair Stud, Owner-Breeder
James Fitzsimmons, Trainer
Fox of Belair
|Gallant Fox was
bred and raced by William Woodward.
The son of Sir Gallahad III
had a medicore 2-year-old season winning but two stakes. It
was hardly an indication of his 3-yearold superiority. After
capturing the Wood Memorial, Gallant Fox swept the
Preakness, Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in that order.
He is the only Triple Crown winner to win the Preakness week
before the Derby.
Later as a 3-year-old he
captured the Dwyer Stakes, Arlington Classic, Saratoga Cup,
Lawrence Realization and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The "Fox
of Belair" was retired for breeding after his 3-year-old
campaign, which netted $308,275, a single season record
Gallant Fox sired the
winners of more than ninety races before his death in 1954
at the age of 27. His most famous son was Omaha, the 1935
Triple Crown winner. Omaha enabled him to become the only
Triple Crown winner to sire a victor in the
renowned Derby, Preakness, Belmont series.
Third Triple Crown Winner, 1935
Chestnut colt, 1932, by Gallant Fox-Flambino, by *Wrack
Belair Stud, Owner-Breeder
James Fitzsimmons, Trainer
Saunders, rider Bert
|Omaha was born
in Kentucky in 1932, just two years after
his sire, Gallant Fox, had won the Triple Crown. As a
weanling, he was sent to Belair in Maryland where he was
broken as a yearling and turned over to trainer Sunny Jim
William Woodward owned and bred colt, like his sire, was not
overly impressive at two but improved with age. After a
third in the Wood Memorial, he set sail for the Triple
Crown. Nellie Flag, a filly, was favored in the Derby but
Omaha rallied and won by a length and a half. The Preakness
was more of a romp as he won by six lengths. He became the
third Triple Crown winner with a length and a half victory
in the Belmont.
Omaha is the only Triple
Crown winner to race abroad. Woodward sent him to England at
four. After taking two secondary stakes, Omaha just missed
winning the Ascot Gold Cup.
C. C. Cook
Fourth Triple Crown Winner, 1937
Brown colt, 1934, by Man o' War-Brushup, by Sweep
Glen Riddle Farm, Owner
S. D. Riddle, Breeder
George Conway, Trainer
|War Admiral was
a smaller copy of his illustrious sire, Man War. Although he
stood only 15.2 hands, War Admiral was Man War's best
offspring. Owned and bred by Sam Riddle, who Man O' War, War
Admiral reached his peak as a 3-year-old so-so 2-year-old
At three, War
Admiral, who prepped in Maryland for the
Crown, recorded a perfect eight-for-eight year.
In the Derby, War Admiral
led from flag to finish, but
Preakness produced one of the most memorable battles in
Crown history. Pompoon and War Admiral ran head-to-head the
top of the stretch. At the wire, it was War Admiral by a
The Belmont Stakes proved to
be War Admiral's easiest victory in the Triple Crown despite
his stumbling at the start. fall of 1937, War Admiral won
the first Pimlico Special and named Horse of the Year.
In all, War Admiral won 21
of 26 starts and finished out
money only one time.
Eddie Arcaro, rider Bert
Fifth Triple Crown Winner, 1941
Chestnut colt, 1938, by
*Blenheim II-Dustwhirl, by Sweep
Calumet Farm, Owner-Breeder
B. A. Jones, Trainer
Ben Jones solved Whirlaway's bewildering habit of running
extremely wide on the turns, there was no stopping the
Calumet colt sired by Blenheim II. Jones devised a special
blinker for the chestnut colt just in time for the 1941
Eddie Arcaro riding, Whirlaway made a dramatic stretch run
at Churchill Downs to set a new time record as he ran the
mile and a quarter in 2.01 2/5 and won by eight lengths.
A week later, Whirlaway
again came from far back to
roll home in the Preakness by five and a half lengths.
Arcaro described his Preakness experience like "riding a
tornado." Only two challenged him in the Belmont and
Whirlaway won racing's fifth Triple Crown and was the first
of four in the 1940's.
Whirlaway, who won five
other stakes in addition to the
Triple Crown in 1941, was named Horse of the Year. He
repeated for the title the following season when he
accounted for eleven stakes. Whirlaway was retired at five
after he pulled up lame after his second race in 1943. In
all, he made 60 starts, won 32 races
and was out of the money only four times.
Sixth Triple Crown Winner, 1943
Brown colt, 1940, by Reigh Count-Quickly, by Haste
Mrs. John D. Hertz, Breeder-Owner
D. J. Cameron, Trainer
Speed to Spare
shot like a meteor across the racing stage when World War II
was raging in 1942 and 1943. After winning ten of fifteen
starts as a 2-year-old, he was all but conceded the Triple
Crown after being complimented with 132 pounds in the
Experimental Handicap ratings.
A son of Reigh Count, the 1928
Derby winner, and foaled by Quickly by Haste, Count Fleet
carried the colors of Mrs. John D. Hertz, wife of the
Chicago taxicab executive. A striking brown colt, Count
Fleet was hailed as a successor to Man O' War by some after
his perfect six for six 3-year-old season.
The war-time ban on racing
in Florida forced Count Fleet to train at Oaklawn Park in
preparation for his 3-year-old campaign. In the Triple
Crown, Count Fleet, with Johnny Longden riding, found little
opposition. He galloped in the Derby, captured the Preakness
with only three challengers by eight lengths, and then,
after taking the Withers, annexed the Triple Crown with a
25-length triumph in the Belmont Stakes.
Seventh Triple Crown Winner, 1946
Chestnut colt, 1943, by Bold Venture-Igual, by Equipoise
King Ranch, Owner-Breeder
M. Hirsch, Trainer
Surprise in 1946
seventh Triple Crown winner, overcame long odds against his
feet in 1946.
with, his dam, Iqual, sired by Equipoise, never raced. She
was sickly as a foal and never recovered sufficiently to
stand the rigors of training. Her first two foals were not
notable. Her third, Assault, sired by Bold Venture, the 1936
Derby winner, had the misfortune to step on a surveyor's
stake at the King Ranch in Texas where he was born.
The hoof healed but Assault
had a tendency to favor the foot, making it appear that he
was crippled. His trainer, Max Hirsch, at first thought the
colt would not train because of his crooked foot. Assault
was not impressive at two, winning only two races. Even
after taking the Experimental Handicap and Wood Memorial at
three, he went off at 8-1 odds in the Derby.
Favored in the Preakness,
Assault won by a neck, after holding a four length advantage
with an eighth mile to go. Then jockey Warren Mehrtens
changed his tactics in the Belmont, reserving the colt and
charging from behind to win by three lengths.
Eighth Triple Crown Winner, 1948
Bay colt, 1945, by Bull Lea-*Hydroplane II,
Calumet Farm, Breeder-Owner
H. A. Jones, Trainer
Racing's First Millionaire
Calumet Farm, capped the glorious '40's
decade - the most glamorous in Triple Crown lore as four
horses attained sport's most elusive prize.
There is little argument that
the bay colt by Bull Lea -
Hydroplane II by Hyperion, was the greatest horse of the
'40's. Some observers believe he was the most
accomplished horse ever to race, even superior to Man O'
War. This debate probably will never be settled. Certainly
he is on everyone's list of top Thoroughbreds in history.
Big Cy, although bred in
Kentucky by Warren Wright, made his debut in Maryland,
winning his first start at Havre de Grace in 1947. Later
that year he captured the Pimlico Futurity on his way to an
8 for 9 year at two.
As a 3-year-old, Citation
went 19 for 20. His only loss occurred at Havre de Grace in
a sprint race he should not have lost. He was carried wide
by a tiring horse and finished second to Saggy in the
The Triple Crown was hardly
a challenge for Citation.
His only real opposition in the Derby came from his stable
mate Coaltown. Only three horses challenged him in the
Preakness and the Belmont was also easily accomplished.
Ninth Triple Crown Winner, 1973
Chestnut colt, 1970, by
Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal, by *Princequillo
Meadow Stable, Breeder-Owner
Lucien Laurin, Trainer
After 25 Years-Secretariat
often described as the perfect horse in appearance with his
resplendent chestnut coat, might have been horse racing's
greatest ambassador of the 20th century. The massive
Virginia-bred colt from the Meadow Stable of Helen "Penny"
Chenery, made a shambles of the Triple Crown in 1973.
Before he was nominated for the
Triple Crown, Secretariat recorded a first - the first
2-year-old ever to be voted Horse of the Year. The son of
Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal was a full-fledged celebrity well
in advance of his Triple Crown heroics, having been
syndicated for a then record $6,080,000 early in his 3-year
In the Kentucky Derby, he
set a record for the mile and a quarter, running the
distance in 1.59-2/5. In a powerful move from last on the
clubhouse turn, Secretariat captured the Preakness with
ease. In the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat put on an awesome
show, winning by 31 lengths to gain the Triple Crown, a
prize which had gone unclaimed for a quarter of a century.
Tenth Triple Crown Winner, 1977
Dark brown colt, 1974, by Bold Reasoning-My
Charmer, by Poker
Mrs. Karen Taylor, Owner
Ben S. Castleman, Breeder
William H. Turner, Trainer
holds an unique Triple Crown record.
The grandson of Bold Ruler is
the only Thoroughbred in history to capture the Triple Crown
with an unbeaten record. After the Triple Crown, Seattle
Slew lost only three of seventeen career starts on his way
to total earnings of $1,208,727.
Bred in Kentucky by Ben S.
Castleman, Seattle Slew was purchased at the bargain price
of $17,500 at a Kentucky yearling auction by Mickey Taylor
for his wife Karen, in whose silks the son of Bold Reasoning
Veterinarian Dr. James Hill
and his wife Sally shared ownership of Seattle Slew. It was
Hill who had recommended the purchase of the colt. Seattle
Slew was named the 2-year-old champion in 1976 and Horse of
the Year as well as the top 3-year-old in 1977. William H.
"Billy" Turner, Jr., a former steeplechase rider from
Monkton, Md. was only 37 when he trained Seattle Slew to his
2- and 3-year-old championships.
Seattle Slew was retired for
breeding in 1979 after being syndicated for $12 million.
Eleventh Triple Crown Winner, 1978
Chestnut colt, 1975, by Exclusive
Native-Won't Tell You,
by Crafty Admiral
Harbor View Farm, Owner-Breeder
Lazaro S. Barrera, Trainer
Toughest Triple Crown
rider Maryland Jockey Club Photo
became the last Triple Crown winner in 1978 and it was not
easy. Affirmed's combined margin of victory in the Triple
Crown was less than two lengths - 11/2 lengths in the Derby,
a neck in the Preakness and a head in the Belmont.
Amazingly, each time it was Alydar, battling him to the
wire. The Florida-bred colt - the first from that state to
win the Triple Crown - raced for the Harbor View Farm of Mr.
and Mrs. Louis Wolfson.
Affirmed won 22 of his 29
career starts, earning $2,393,818. The chestnut son of
Exclusive Native, was named Horse of the Year twice as well
as 3-year-old champion in 1978. As a 4-year-old he captured
seven stakes and beat out Spectacular Bid for Horse of the
Year honors. After his 4-year-old campaign he was retired to
Spendthrift Farm and syndicated for $14.4 million.