Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States)

Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner, at the 1919 Preakness Stakes
Justify, the 13th winner, at the 2018 Preakness Stakes.

In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the Triple Crown, is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races were inaugurated in different years, the last being the Kentucky Derby in 1875. These races are now run annually in May and early June of each year. The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950 but awarded to all previous winners as well as those after 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.

The first winner of all three Triple Crown races was Sir Barton in 1919. Some journalists began using the term Triple Crown to refer to the three races as early as 1923, but it was not until Gallant Fox won the three events in 1930 that Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form put the term into common use.

In the history of the Triple Crown, 13 horses have won all three races: 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 Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018). As of 2018, American Pharoah and Justify are the only living Triple Crown winners.

James E. "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons was the first trainer to win the Triple Crown more than once; he trained both Gallant Fox and his son Omaha for the Belair Stud breeding farm. Gallant Fox and Omaha are the only father-son duo to win the Triple Crown. Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice, training American Pharoah and Justify. Belair Stud and Calumet Farm are tied as the owners with the most Triple Crown victories with two apiece. Calumet Farms won with Whirlaway and Citation. Eddie Arcaro rode both of Calumet Farms' Triple Crown champions and is the only jockey to win more than one Triple Crown.

Secretariat holds the stakes record time for each of the three races. His time of 2:24 for ​1 12 miles in the 1973 Belmont Stakes also set a world record that still stands.[1]

Development

The three Triple Crown races had been run for decades before the series received its name; the Belmont Stakes was first run in 1867; the Preakness, in 1873;[2] and the Kentucky Derby, in 1875. The term was in use at least by 1923, although Daily Racing Form writer Charles Hatton is commonly credited with originating the term in 1930.[3]

Their order has varied. Before 1931, the Preakness was run before the Kentucky Derby eleven times. On May 12, 1917, and May 13, 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness were run on the same day. Since 1931, the Kentucky Derby has been run first, followed by the Preakness, and then the Belmont.[4]

Each Triple Crown race is open to both colts and fillies. Although fillies have won each of the individual Triple Crown races, none has won the Triple Crown itself.[5] Despite attempts to develop a "Filly Triple Crown" or a "Triple Tiara" for fillies only, no set series of three races has consistently remained in the public eye, and at least four different configurations of races have been used. Two fillies won the series of the Kentucky Oaks, the Pimlico Oaks (now the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes), and the Coaching Club American Oaks, in 1949 and 1952, but the racing press did not designate either accomplishment as a "triple crown". In 1961, the New York Racing Association created a filly triple crown of in-state races only, but the races changed over the years. Eight fillies won the NYRA Triple Tiara between 1968 and 1993.[6]

Gelded colts may run in any of the three races today, but they were prohibited from entering the Belmont between 1919 and 1957. Geldings have won each of the individual races,[7][8] but like fillies, no gelding has ever won the Triple Crown. The closest was Funny Cide, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 2003.[9]

All the races are held on dirt tracks, rather than the turf commonly used for important races in Europe.[citation needed]

Triple Crown races
Race Date Current Track Location Distance Background Cite Trophy
Kentucky Derby
"The Run for the Roses"
First Saturday in May Churchill Downs Louisville, Kentucky 1 14 miles (2,000 m) Inaugurated in 1875, the race was originally 1 12 miles (2,400 m) until 1896 when it was shortened to its current distance. It is the only one of the three races to have been continuously run from its inception. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg) and fillies 121 pounds (55 kg). The field has been limited to 20 horses since 1975. [10] Ky Derby Trophy.jpg
The Kentucky Derby Trophy
Preakness Stakes
"The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans"
Third Saturday in May Pimlico Race Course Baltimore, Maryland 1 316 miles (1,900 m) Started in 1873 and continuously run since 1894, it is the shortest of the three races. Pimlico was the home of the race from 1873 to 1889 and again from 1908 until the present. The Preakness was not run from 1891 to 1893. Weights are the same as for the Derby. Field is limited to 14 horses. [11][12] Woodlawn Vase Preakness Stakes.jpg
The Woodlawn Vase
Belmont Stakes
"The Test of the Champion"
Third Saturday following the Preakness
(first or second Saturday in June)
Belmont Park Elmont, New York 1 12 miles (2,400 m) Begun in 1867, it is the oldest of the three races and the longest, though not held in 1911 and 1912 due to anti-gambling legislation in New York. Race was held at various New York tracks until 1905 when Belmont Park became the permanent location. Distance varied from 1 58 to 1 18 miles (2,600 to 1,800 m) until set at 1 12 miles (2,400 m) in 1926. Weight assignments are the same as the other two races. Field is limited to 16 horses. [13][14][15] Belmont Cup.png
The August Belmont Trophy
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