What is the Triple Crown in Horse Racing?

(Last Updated On: June 9, 2018)

What is the Triple Crown in Horse Racing?
What is the Triple Crown in Horse Racing? The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, often known simply as the Triple Crown, is a title that is given to a 3-year-old thoroughbred horse who has won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races all date back to the 19th century, and today are run between May and June each year.

List of Triple Crown Winners

While the Triple Crown races have been run for quite some time, actually achieving victory in all three has proven to be one of the tougher accomplishments in sports.

In total, there have been just 13 Triple Crown winners, the first of which was Sir Barton in 1919. A complete list of Triple Crown winners can be found below:

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
American Pharaoh – 2015
Justify – 2018

History of the Triple Crown in Horse Racing

The races that make up the Triple Crown had long been run before they ever came to be associated with the Triple Crown itself. The Belmont Stakes first run was in 1867, followed by the Preakness in 1873, and then the Kentucky Derby in 1875. All of the races take place on a dirt track, and are open to colts and fillies. While fillies have managed to win a couple of Triple Crown races, they have yet to win the Crown itself.

There is no real consensus as to when the term “Triple Crown” was first applied to horse racing, but we do know it came sometime after Sir Barton’s inaugural Triple Crown victory in 1919. The term was thought to be in use by 1923. However, it is typically Charles Hatton, who used the term in the Daily Racing Form in 1930, who gets credit for coining the phrase.

In 1950, a Triple Crown Trophy was created to commemorate Triple Crown winners. This trophy has been handed out since then, and was also awarded to all previous winners as well.

In the history of the Triple Crown, only one trainer has ever been able to win the Triple Crown more than once. James E. Fitzsimmons, or “Sunny Jim”, accomplished the feat as the trainer of both Gallant Fox and Omaha, who are father and son. These two horse are also the only father/son team to have won the Triple Crown.

Secretariat currently holds the stakes record for each of the three races. At the 1973 Belmont Stakes, Secretariat set a world record time of 2:24 for the ​1 1⁄2 mile track, which still stands.

Triple Crown Races

The Kentucky Derby

Known as “The Run for the Roses“, today, the Kentucky Derby is traditionally run first. When it started in 1875, the track was originally 1 1⁄2 miles. This changed in 1896, when it was shortened to its current length of 1 1⁄4 miles. The Kentucky Derby is run in Louisville, Kentucky.

Preakness Stakes

Started in 1873, “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”, or the Preakness Stakes, has continuously run since 1894. It is the shortest track of the Triple Crown, coming in at 1 3⁄16 miles. The race takes place in Baltimore, Maryland.

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes was first conceived in 1867, and is the oldest of the three races. It is also the longest. Throughout its history, the race was held at many different New York tracks until finally being moved to Belmont Park in 1905. The race is also fittingly known as “The Test of the Champion.”

Today, the Triple Crown lives on as one of the more celebrated accomplishments in sports. While achieving it is certainly difficult, it is not impossible.