Every sport has a championship dedicated for the best-of-the-best, and in horse racing, many people consider the Triple Crown races to be the ultimate achievement in horse racing. With that said, many people devote their lives to training horses just to get their hands on the Triple Crown Winner Tittle.
However, even though the Triple Crown series are present for around 100 years, there have been only 13 horses that managed to win all three races and crowned the Triple Crown champion.
This speaks about the difficulty of the championship, where many things need to come together in order for a horse to win all three races.
What is The Triple Crown in Horse Racing
Commonly known as the Triple Crown Championship, is a series of horse races reserved specifically for three-year-old Thoroughbreds and it is constructed from three races:
- The Kentucky Derby
- The Preakness Stakes
- The Belmont Stakes
Even though the Triple Crown Trophy was commissioned in 1950, it was awarded to all previous winners, and for all horses that manage to get to the finish line quicker after 1950.
Many things make the Triple Crown series difficult, even for a legendary horse that holds extraordinary racing potential.
Since the Triple Crown trophy is the most desired achievement in horse racing, it attracts horses from all around the world, making the competition harder than any other event. Additionally, in order to be crowned a Triple Crown champion, a horse must win all three races, which usually are within a month.
This brings out the importance of endurance and stamina, and horses not only need to be fast but also keep the same momentum in all three races.
It is very difficult to win the Triple Crown Series, but through the years 13 horses managed to get their hands on this ultimate trophy. Let’s highlight some of the most iconic horses that were crowned the Triple Crown champions.
Justify is a horse that managed to enter the history books of horse racing after winning the Triple Crown Series in 2018. This extraordinary win made Justify the first horse ever to win the Triple Crown without running as a two-year-old.
Basically, Justify entered the big league and dominated despite the lack of previous races. It seems like the owners truly believed in its potential.
Justify also entered a special club in the Triple Crown history, by being the second undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown, including Seattle Slew.
After winning the Triple Crown, Justify retired from professional horse racing, making it the only Triple Crown winner to retire as an undefeated champion. With that said, it is important to mention that he is also the least raced of any Triple Crown winners, retiring only after six races.
American Pharoah – 2015
After a desert-dry 37 years without a Triple Crown champion, American Pharoah managed to brake this long-lasting quietness and enter the history books of horse racing. Most people believe that the competition in horse racing nowadays, made winning the Triple Crown close to impossible, but
American Pharoah was here to prove everyone wrong. He was also named Horse of the Year in 2015 and had a rather successful career in horse racing, being the father of another Derby contender, Forbidden Kingdom.
Affirmed – 1978
Years after the implacable performance by the Secretariat came a new memorable Triple Crown champion that had the most formidable foe of any Triple Crown winner, Alydar. The competition between both of them made them push each other’s limits.
However, Affirmed became victorious by winning the Triple Crown Championship. This was also the first horse to earn two million dollars in career earnings, and got the title Horse of the Year for 1978 and 79’.
In other words, Affirmed was a stable horse that was on the money in every race.
Secretariat – 1973
It is hard to make a list of the most notable Triple Crown winners without mentioning the legendary Secretariat. If you are a horse racing enthusiast, you’ve definitely come across the name Secretariat just because this horse managed to set many records and write his name in bold letters in the history books of horse racing.
After 25 years Secretariat managed to become a Triple Crown winner and in true style. Secretariat managed to set records on every race in the Triple Crown Series finishing:
- The Kentucky Derby in an unbeatable time of 1:59 2/5 seconds and since then, no horse came even close.
- In the Preakness Stakes, the Secretariat took an early charge and won the race by 2 ½ lengths over Sham, his biggest rival. With this extraordinary run, the Secretariat beat another record of finishing the race in 1:53 seconds.
- The Belmont Stakes was dominated by the Secretariat winning the race by 30 lengths. At that time, this wasn’t only a record of the Belmont Stakes, but also a record for the fastest 1 ½ miles on dirt in history.
With such an incredible performance, it is not surprising that the Secretariat won the horse of the year as a two-year-old and three-year-old. His life and career story managed to get onto the big screens, being adapted into a movie with Margo Martindale, Diane Lane and John Malkovich.