Remembering the 13 Triple Crown Winners
1. Sir Barton in 1919
This beautiful, chestnut thoroughbred was the first to be “Triple Crowned” in 1919 as a three-year-old colt. The year before his big win, he lost all six races he was entered in. Shocking, right? In just one year, Sir Barton went from zero to hero with trainer Harvey Guy Bedwell and jockey Johnny Loftus. In his debut at the Kentucky Derby in 1919, Sir Barton was charged only with setting the pace and tiring out opponents for a stable mate, Bill Kelly, but he was too fast. Bill Kelly couldn’t catch him. And that race was the birth of a Triple Crown winner.
PC: Keeneland Library
2. Gallant Fox in 1930
The second winner not only made himself famous but also the term “Triple Crown”. After winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1930, “Triple Crown” became a popular term and is still used to this day. Even before he was dubbed Triple Crown champ, he foreshadowed his successful future with two wins in seven starts in 1929, his first year on the track.
PC: Associated Word Press
3. Omaha in 1935
Sired by Gallant Fox himself, Omaha had Triple Crown blood running in his veins. Omaha was bred by Belair Stud, just like his father, and they also shared the same trainer, “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons. I guess it’s true what they say… like father like son.
PC: Paulick Report
4. War Admiral in 1937
Although he may’ve not looked like a typical Triple Crown winner, standing 15.3 hands “short” and nowhere near the physique of a typical race stud, War Admiral was indeed a king in the end. The Admiral won his first two racing starts, but shocked the horse world after winning the Kentucky Derby in 1937 with no problem. That year only got better and better for the steed as he won at the Preakness only one week later, and then at the Belmont Stakes.
PC: Belmont Stakes
5. Whirlaway in 1941
This thoroughbred had an unpredictable disposition and difficult attitude at times, but Whirlaway was full of pure talent. He became the fifth to win the Triple Crown with jockey Eddie Arcaro.
6. Count Fleet in 1943
Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hertz, who own Hertz car rental company as well, Count Fleet won the Triple Crown in 1943, becoming the sixth horse to do so. Mr. and Mrs. Hertz were keen on selling the horse on multiple occasions because he was difficult to work with. I bet they were happy they didn’t!
PC: Keeneland Library
7. Assault in 1946
It took Assault a little bit longer to win over the heart of fans. Even with a Triple Crown win, the public was unimpressed with his relatively slow times in all three races. But, nonetheless, his talent got him a crown and, finally, after another few years of racing, the public decided he was truly impressive.
8. Citation in 1948
In his three-year-old year, Citation shook the racing world, losing only one of his 20 races during the season. His raw speed and agility lead him to become the eighth Triple Crown winner. Some say he had the best three-year-old year of all time.
PC: Belmont Stakes
9. Secretariat in 1973
And now, for my personal favorite, a thoroughbred that made a huge impact on the world, Secretariat… chances are you might have seen the movie 10 times like I have. His 18-horse-length victory finish at the Belmont Stakes, where he secured the Triple Crown and set a world record time is one of the most exciting moments in horse racing history.
PC: The Baltimore Sun
10. Seattle Slew in 1977
He stands out from the rest as he was the only horse to make it through the Triple Crown undefeated. What an accomplishment! Seattle Slew became the 10th to win the Triple Crown with jockey Jean Cruguet.
PC: Horse Illustrated
11. Affirmed in 1978
With a close race at the Belmont Stakes, winning by only a head length in front of Alydar, Affirmed secured the 11th Triple Crown in 1978. The rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar became famous, and the public enjoyed the drama between the two thoroughbreds.
PC: Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sports
12. American Pharoah in 2015
As you can tell (if you’ve been paying attention), American Pharoah put a stop to the 37-year “Triple Crown dry spell”. Trained by Bob Baffert, this steed emerged victorious in 2015. His ears were stuffed with cotton during the three races that make up the Triple Crown to prevent outbursts due to noise, which had affected him in the past. He is stable mates with the newest winner of the Triple Crown title….
PC: NPR Peter Morgan
13. Justify in 2018
Bob Baffert must be glowing as the last two Triple Crowns have been placed on the heads of his horses, American Pharoah and, now, Justify. In a TMZ interview, Baffert compared Justify to both LeBron James and American Pharoah, saying that Justify is “up there with American Pharoah” and that “when you get LeBron James, you better win.” Justify just started racing this year and remains undefeated, already having $3.8 million in winnings under his belt. What could be next for this talented thoroughbred?