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The Winners of Triple Crown in Horse Racing

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The Triple Crown is the highest honour in American Horse Racing. Its name fits in nicely with the Horse Racing's nickname 'The Sport of Kings'. It is a triple crown simply because, to earn it, a horse must win three stakes races1 in the same year. These races are considered the 'gems' of the sport and are traditionally the most challenging ones. The first is the Kentucky Derby, followed by Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

1919- Sir Barton

Sir Barton was the first horse in history to win these three races in the same year. Of course, since he was the first to do it, and it was 1919, the idea of the Triple Crown didn't exist yet, and still wouldn't exist officially for many years.

For the first to accomplish such a feat, he was quite an underdog. When he was two years old - the year he won the triple crown - his record was 0-6 when he went in. Somehow, despite the odds being against him strongly, he managed to win the Kentucky Derby by five lengths over the favourite horse, Billy Kelly.

His wins in Preakness and Belmont Stakes were basically the same. Somehow, this underdog kept winning in spurts. Sir Barton, or indeed any horse couldn't win the next Triple Crown because of the fantastic Man o' War, who didn't participate in the Kentucky Derby. Sir Barton would retire in 1920.

1930- Gallant Fox

Gallant Fox was one of the first in a long line of French breed horses. He was the son of Sir Gallahad III, an imported French racehorse. He won in 1930 as a three-year-old after a great deal of training.

He won the Kentucky Derby with eight lengths, Preakness by three-quarters of a length and Belmont by three lengths. These three were in the middle of a five race win streak, and he was beginning to look like the new Man o' War. Unfortunately, his performance declined and would only race six times after Belmont. He retired to stud in 1931, and produced future Triple Crown winner Omaha.

Gallant Fox showed the start of the popularity of European racehorses, and an overall increase in the quality of the horses.

1935- Omaha

Omaha and Gallant Fox were father and son, and consecutive Triple Crown winners. Omaha's career and record were not as good as his father's career. As a two year old, his record was miserable, winning only once. After some training, Omaha made it to the Kentucky Derby as a three year old.

He was 4-1 in the odds and the second choice to win. The first choice did not perform well and he won by one and a half lengths. He won by six lengths at Preakness and one and a half lengths at Belmont.

Omaha's win of the Triple Crown was more or less by luck. He would only win occasionally and usually when better horses didn't show up or had problems. He was a failure at studding and had more or less been lost in history.

1937- War Admiral

War Admiral was the most successful son of the famous Chestnut Man o' War. Man o' War never accomplished the Triple Crown, simply because he never went to the Kentucky Derby. His owner thought that it was too far west and too late in the season to participate in. War Admiral wouldn't make this mistake.

War Admiral was a mediocre two year old, but as a three-year-old in 1937, he raced well. In the Kentucky Derby, he had 8-5 odds and won by one and three fourths lengths. In the Belmont stakes, he injured his right foreleg at the beginning, but easily won by four lengths.

He maintained the legacy of Man o' War and had a brilliant year in 1937. He would later rival the other legendary descendent of Man o' War, Seabiscuit. He would retire with a 21-26 record behind the shadow of Seabiscuit.

1941- Whirlaway

Whirlaway was a bit of an insane horse. He was wild and could be a danger. He was trained anyway and did well as a two year old. He displayed some bad behaviour still which was affecting his races. Whirlaway was worked with and ran in the Kentucky Derby.

He won the 1941 Derby by a healthy eight lengths. Victories at Preakness and Belmont followed, with five and a half lengths and two and a half lengths respectively. Whirlaway was prone to have slow starts and suddenly speed up, surprising spectators at all three races.

Whirlaway won over 500,000 dollars in his lifetime and became a truly great horse. He retired to stud at Calumet farms and was sold to a French breeder.

1943- Count Fleet

Count Fleet was the son of an aggressive horse named Reigh Count. Count Fleet had an easy time winning as a three-year-old. He consistently beat his competitors and few dared to face him.

He entered the Kentucky Derby and won easily by three lengths. Preakness was won in eight lengths. He won Belmont Stakes by very well with 25 lengths and a new track record. These races made him a racing icon and set him apart from the crowd.

Belmont Stakes was unfortunately his last race though. After an injury to his ankle, he was forced to quit just after a great deal of faith had been inspired. He didn't return for a 1944 year and retired to a somewhat successful stud career.

1946- Assault

Assault was an awkward horse with an odd walk. He was nearly crippled from an accident and had to wear strange shoes. He did fairly well as a three-year-old in 1946 and entered the Kentucky Derby.

He went into the Derby as an underdog but finished first, by eight lengths. He almost lost at Preakness, getting a slow start and barely managed to win by a neck. He was lucky to finish. He easily won Belmont Stakes with three lengths.

He continued to win very well until 1948 when he retired. He wasn't able to stud when it was found that he was sterile, so he returned to the races in 1950. He retired after one further year to a peaceful farm life and was eventually put down in 1971.

1948- Citation

Some believe that Citation was the best horse of all time. He won in 1948 consistently and easily. He was able to beat older horses as a two year old, and so as a three year old, he performed brilliantly.

In the Kentucky Derby, Citation ran slowly at first but advanced to win by three and a half lengths. He won at Preakness easily by five and a half lengths. In between Preakness and Belmont, he ran the Jersey Derby and won as well. In the Belmont Stakes, he ran without much competition and won by eight lengths.

Citation wasn't able to race in 1948 due to an injury, and returned to an embarrassing 1949 year. In 1950, Citation was approaching the 1,000,000 dollar mark, a number no horse had made before. He cracked the mark with the 100,000 dollar Hollywood Gold Cup, and at that retired to stud.

1973- Secretariat

The legendary horse Secretariat won the 1973 Triple Crown. He was a hero and an icon for the sport. He was almost perfect, being a handsome, smart, strong, powerful racing horse with a desire to win. In 1973, much of the faith that had been following him was flushed at his loss at the Wood Memorial Stakes. He entered the Kentucky Derby as an uneasy favourite with 3-2 odds.

At the Kentucky Derby, his only real threat was another horse named Sham. He beat Sham by two and a half lengths and set a Derby record at 1:59 seconds for the one and one fourth mile race. At Preakness, he won by two and half lengths over Sham once again. The Preakness race time is still contested. Some say it was 1:54, others say 1:53. The Belmont race was possibly the most memorable. Sham and Secretariat engaged in a speed race, going after the lead from the start. Sham was injured and came in last, he would never race again. Secretariat came in at 2:24 winning by a record 31 lengths.

Secretariat retired to stud in 1974 after his amazing career. He produced some notable runners, but none capable of his talent in stamina and speed.

1977- Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew is a fine example of the nature of racing. He was not bred by a millionaire or indeed very well bred. He was purchased for a mere 17,500 dollars. In his career as a three year old, he became one of the best horses of his time.

He entered the Kentucky Derby as a favourite, but almost didn't make it. He swerved at the start and had to really run to make up for it. He won closely by one and three fourth lengths. He won the Preakness with one and half lengths. He won Belmont Stakes by four lengths. This Triple Crown achievement would cap an undefeated record so far.

The next race would be an embarrassing loss and he wouldn't race in 1977 after it. He retired at the end of 1978 and retired to stud. He sired some good horses as well. Since he died in 2002, there are no living Triple Crown winners for the first time in history.

1978- Affirmed

Affirmed was the first horse to win a Triple Crown one year after another horse accomplished it. His rivalry with Alydar was one of the biggest interest of the Triple Crown.

Affirmed entered the Kentucky Derby with 9-5 odds, with Alydar as favourite. He won a close race by one and a half lengths. Preakness was a dramatic race. Alydar was winning in the stretch but Affirmed showed a burst of energy and won by a neck. Belmont was even more dramatic than Preakness. They ran alongside for a while, occasionally trading leads. At the end, Affirmed won by a head to be the most recent Triple Crown winner.

Affirmed had a great career, becoming the first to win two million dollars, winning 2,393,818 dollars. He retired to stud after 1979.

1In horse racing, there are three kinds of races, with the stakes being the most competitive.

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