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Triple Crown winners: The Second Act
When American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes on June 6, he became only the 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first since 1978. Of the previous 11 horses, 10 continued to race, and in most cases they only further burnished their gold-plated accomplishments. American Pharoah is scheduled to make his next start Aug. 2 in the Haskell, which will be the start of his post-Triple Crown campaign. Each day leading up to the Haskell, we will take a look at what happened to the previous 11 Triple Crown winners after they won the Belmont.
1978 – Affirmed
Ch. c., 1975, Exclusive Native-Won’t Tell You, by Crafty Admiral
Owner: Harbor View Farm
Breeder: Harbor View Farm
Trainer: Laz Barrera
Triple Crown jockey: Steve Cauthen
Record through Triple Crown: 16-14-2-0
Record after Triple Crown: 13-8-3-1
Career record: 29-22-5-1
Affirmed followed by one year the Triple Crown sweep of Seattle Slew, the only time horses have won the Triple Crown in consecutive years. It is ironic then that the longest drought in Triple Crown history followed that achievement.
Affirmed was the last of the Triple Crown winners during the glorious racing decade of the 1970s and was the last Triple Crown winner until American Pharoah 37 years later. He was an elite racehorse, winning championships all three years he was on the racetrack, including consecutive titles as Horse of the Year.
At age 2, Affirmed ran nine times, and though he was based in New York he was flown to California for his fourth career start, a division of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. He won seven of those nine races, his only two losses being second-place finishes to Alydar, though he beat Alydar four times that year – including in the Hopeful, Futurity at Belmont, and Laurel Futurity – to secure the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. It was the beginning of rivalry that would reach its zenith during the Triple Crown.
Affirmed wintered in California and won all four of his preps leading into the Kentucky Derby. Alydar tested him throughout the Triple Crown, but Affirmed was always just that much better, and he emerged from the Belmont Stakes – one of the greatest races in history considering what was at stake – with an eight-race winning streak.
Affirmed ran four more times at age 3, and though he won the Jim Dandy in his first start after the Triple Crown, increasing his win streak to nine, the rest of the year was unsatisfying. He crossed the wire first in the Travers, but interfered with Alydar going into the far turn and was disqualified and placed second. This turned out to be the final race between these two terrific rivals, a disappointing coda to what was an outstanding series of battles that ended up favoring Affirmed by 7-3.
At that point, Affirmed had to step out of his own age group and face older horses. Waiting for him was Seattle Slew, the previous year’s Triple Crown winner. They ran against each other twice, the only time Triple Crown winners have ever met.
In the Marlboro Cup, Seattle Slew got the jump on Affirmed and never looked back. In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Affirmed tried to take on Seattle Slew early, but his saddle slipped and he faded to finish fifth, the only time Affirmed finished out of the money in his career.
Despite the losses against older horses at the end of the year, the shine of the Triple Crown carried Affirmed to titles as both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male.
Affirmed for the second straight year wintered in California, and he initially struggled to find his best form, losing at odds-on in the first two legs of the Strub Series, the Malibu and San Fernando. That brought his losing streak to five – including the Travers disqualification – and it coincided with a prolonged losing streak for jockey Steve Cauthen.
Laffit Pincay Jr. took over as the rider on Affirmed for the Strub Stakes, and Affirmed never lost another race, winning seven straight races, six of them Grade 1, in the most important events in California and New York.
One of his most impressive wins came in the Hollywood Gold Cup, when Affirmed carried a career high weight of 132 pounds and came within one-fifth of a second of the track record for 1 1/4 miles. The victory made him the first horse to earn more than $2 million, 28 years after Triple Crown winner Citation had become the first $1 million earner, also in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Affirmed ended his career with victories in the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In his final start, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he took on that year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Spectacular Bid, and beat him by three-quarters of a length while spotting him five pounds. Spectacular Bid, a brilliant horse himself, never lost another race.
At year’s end, Affirmed won two more Eclipse Awards, as Horse of the Year and champion older male, bringing to five the year-end titles he won in his three years on the track. His 22 career victories included 14 Grade 1 races. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Affirmed was described by his riders and trainer Laz Barrera as a highly intelligent horse who often did just enough to win. There was one day when Affirmed got loose at Santa Anita and ran through the stable area back to Barrera’s barn, where he patiently waited for his handlers.
Affirmed was syndicated for stallion duty for $14.4 million, a record at the time. He initially stood at stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, also the home at the time of Seattle Slew. Affirmed later was moved to Calumet Farm, where he romped in an adjacent paddock to Alydar. His final move was to Jonabell Farm, beginning with the 1992 breeding season.
He had a decent amount of success at stud, with many of his best runners excelling on turf, including Flawlessly, a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award as champion female turf horse. Affirmed was the sire of Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski and the damsire of Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup.
Affirmed was euthanized in January 2001 because of laminitis and was buried at Jonabell.
1977 – Seattle Slew
Dk. b. or br. c., 1974, Bold Reasoning-My Charmer, by Poker
Owner: Tayhill Stable
Breeder: Ben S. Castleman
Triple Crown trainer: Billy Turner
Triple Crown jockey: Jean Cruguet
Record through Triple Crown: 9-9-0-0
Record after Triple Crown: 8-5-2-0
Career record: 17-14-2-0
The story arc of Seattle Slew is a fascinating one, for his Triple Crown achievement was not fully appreciated while it was happening, despite his being undefeated through the Belmont Stakes. He is the only Triple Crown winner to remain unbeaten at that point. It was only after the fall of his 4-year-old year that doubters were won over, and Seattle Slew further enhanced his legacy by becoming one of the most important sires of the era.
Seattle Slew is the only Triple Crown winner sold at auction, and is one of only two who was not raced by his breeder. Sir Barton was the only other Triple Crown winner who was sold by his breeder, in that case a private sale after his first four starts at age 2.
Seattle Slew was acquired as a yearling for a mere $17,500 by Mickey and Karen Taylor and Dr. Jim and Sally Hill, who combined their last names to form Tayhill Stable.
It was not until the fall of his 2-year-old year that Seattle Slew finally made it to the races, but his three races in four weeks – capped by a romping win in the Champagne Stakes – were so dazzling that he was voted champion 2-year-old male.
Seattle Slew wintered in Florida, capturing preps there before going to New York. In the Derby, Seattle Slew prevailed despite a tardy start and mad dash to the front that caused him to set a rapid pace. He was so good he won anyway. In the Preakness, he fought off a serious early pace challenge and still kicked clear. The Belmont was his easiest of all the Triple Crown races, but some of the enthusiasm for his achievement was tempered by those who denigrated the competition he was beating.
Billy Turner, who trained Seattle Slew, wanted to give the colt a rest after the Triple Crown, but the Taylors and Hills, lured in part by the largesse of Hollywood Park’s Marje Everett, sent him to California just three weeks later to run in the Swaps Stakes. Seattle Slew suffered the worst defeat of his career, a 16-length drubbing that marked the only time he finished out of the money, in fact the only time he was worse than second.
By then, the relationship between the owners and trainer was already fraying, and it eventually snapped, with Turner being fired. Before Seattle Slew would race again at age 4, he would be turned over to trainer Doug Peterson, a 50 percent interest was sold in Seattle Slew for future stud duty, and he was named the Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male of 1977.
He also got very sick and nearly died.
Seattle Slew developed Colitis-x, and by the time he had recovered from that it was not until May 1978 that he finally raced at age 4. Seattle Slew won an allowance race, but nagging injuries kept him out of action again until August, when he won another allowance race. Eight months into the year, he had made just two starts, both allowance victories.
Over the next 2 1/2 months, though, Seattle Slew had an ambitious campaign that saw him run in some of the elite races of the time for older horses, including two unprecedented matches with that year’s Triple Crown winner, Affirmed.
After losing the Patterson by a neck to Dr. Patches while giving away 14 pounds (128 to 114) – his first start in graded stakes company in 14 months – Seattle Slew only 11 days later ran away from Affirmed in the Marlboro Cup in the first-ever meeting between two Triple Crown winners. Because of doubts over Seattle Slew’s form going into the Marlboro Cup, he was not the favorite for the only time in his career.
So impressive was that win, though, that Seattle Slew was the odds-on favorite for his remaining three starts. He was the odds-on favorite in 15 of his 17 career races.
Two weeks after the Marlboro Cup, with Affirmed on the sidelines to await the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Seattle Slew again used his high-cruising speed and ran away from Exceller in the Woodward Stakes.
Two weeks after the Woodward, racing for the fourth time in 39 days, Seattle Slew met Affirmed for the second and final time in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Affirmed tried to go with Seattle Slew early, and they set a torrid early pace for the 1 1/2-mile race before Affirmed’s saddle slipped.
Seattle Slew faced fresh challengers throughout, though, so he never got a breather, the final challenge coming from Exceller, who was rallying into fractions tailor-made for his late-running style. Seattle Slew, despite having gone the first six furlongs in 1:09.40, desperately tried to battle back after being headed, but fell short by a nose.
It may have been his greatest effort, and at long last he convinced the remaining skeptics of his greatness.
Seattle Slew raced just once more, in the Stuyvesant at Aqueduct, in which he beat inferior competition but carried the highest impost of his career, 134 pounds.
He was voted champion older male, but – despite finishing in front of Affirmed in their two meetings – lost in balloting for Horse of the Year to that year’s Triple Crown winner.
Seattle Slew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.
At stud, initially at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, Seattle Slew immediately made a significant impact. His first crop included the champions Landaluce and Slew o’ Gold, his second crop included Swale, the 1984 winner of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. Seattle Slew sired champions Capote, Surfside, and Vindication, as well as A.P. Indy, the 1992 Horse of the Year who was Seattle Slew’s most successful son at stud.
Seattle Slew’s daughters include the dams of champions Cigar – a two-time Horse of the Year – and Escena, Golden Attraction, and Lemon Drop Kid.
After standing at Spendthrift, Seattle Slew was moved to Three Chimneys in 1985 and remained there for 17 years. He suffered from spinal issues late in life, was withdrawn from stud duty at Three Chimneys in February 2002, and, after being moved to Hill ’n Dale Farm in April, died there five weeks later and was buried there.
Seattle Slew outlived Affirmed and Secretariat, so, after his death, there was no living Triple Crown winner until American Pharoah won the Belmont.
1973 – Secretariat
Ch. c., 1970, Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal, by Princequillo
Owner: Meadow Stable
Breeder: Meadow Stable
Trainer: Lucien Laurin
Triple Crown jockey: Ron Turcotte
Record through Triple Crown: 15-12-1-1
Record after Triple Crown: 6-4-2-0
Career record: 21-16-3-1
After a flurry of three Triple Crown winners in the 1930s and four in the 1940s, the decades of the 1950s and 1960s both failed to produce a Triple Crown winner. But the 1970s produced three more Triple Crown winners, the best of them arriving after a 25-year gap, with a horse who looked the part and played it to the hilt.
Secretariat was a gorgeous chestnut-colored colt who was so brilliant that, as a 2-year-old, he was named Horse of the Year in addition to a divisional title as champion 2-year-old male. After a troubled trip when losing his debut, he crossed the wire first in his remaining eight races, his lone loss in that sequence coming because of a disqualification for interference in the Champagne Stakes. He won all his races by daylight, with runaway victories in the Sanford and Hopeful at Saratoga and the Futurity at Belmont. Both the Laurel Futurity and Garden State Stakes were important 2-year-old stakes in that era, and he raced through mid-November capturing them.
Over the winter, Secretariat was syndicated for $6.08 million. It was known that his 3-year-old year would be his last on the track. It would be one for the record books.
Secretariat won his first two starts of the year – including a track-record-equaling performance in the Gotham – but then suffered a defeat in his final Kentucky Derby prep, the Wood Memorial. An abscess was discovered in his mouth after that race, and once that was treated, Secretariat was ready for a Triple Crown for the ages.
Secretariat set a track record in the Kentucky Derby. He set a track record in the Preakness. And in the Belmont, he set the standard by which all other performances will ever be measured, with a 31-length victory in 2:24 for 1 1/2 miles, obliterating the previous track and world record of 2:26.60. That’s how otherworldly was his Belmont.
So dominant was Secretariat in those five weeks of the Triple Crown that he still holds the race records for time for all three races, and both the Churchill Downs and Belmont Park records are still the track records, more than 40 years later.
His post-Triple Crown career consisted of six races, and the four wins are as memorable as the two losses. Secretariat never had a breather after the Triple Crown. Just three weeks after the Belmont, he went to Chicago and romped in the Arlington Invitational, his final race against horses solely his own age.
He then made five starts against older horses, winning three and losing two, both those losses – to Onion in the Whitney and Prove Out in the Woodward – coming against horses trained by Allen Jerkens, who that year was named the Eclipse Award-winning trainer, outpolling Secretariat’s trainer, Lucien Laurin, who had won the title the year prior.
Secretariat’s three wins against older horses all were significant achievements. In the Marlboro Cup Invitational – a race created specifically for television owing to the immense popularity of Secretariat – Secretariat beat his stablemate Riva Ridge and the likes of Cougar II with another record performance, this time setting a world record when going 1 1/8 miles at Belmont.
Secretariat completed his career with two starts on turf, becoming the only Triple Crown winner ever to race on grass in North America. His first turf race was on the Man o’ War at Belmont, and it could not have been more auspicious as he set yet another course record when beating such outstanding turf horses of the era as Tentam and Big Spruce.
And then to put an emphatic exclamation point on his career, Secretariat went to Woodbine in Canada for his racing finale and scored another turf victory, this time in the Canadian International. Both his turf races were runaway victories, the average margin was 5 3/4 lengths.
Secretariat set five track or course records during his 3-year-old campaign – two of them being world records – and equaled a sixth track record. One of his world records, and another of his course records, were achieved in two of his six starts following the Triple Crown. He was again named Horse of the Year, getting the award for both years that he raced. He also was named champion 3-year-old male and champion turf horse in 1973.
Secretariat was retired to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. The bar was set high for his breeding career. A horse from his very first crop became the first yearling sold at auction for more than $1 million. He sired Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret, dual-classic winner Risen Star, and many other stakes winners, including General Assembly, Tinners Way, and Melbourne Cup winner Kingston Rule. He was a sensational broodmare sire, most notably through the highly influential sires Storm Cat and A.P. Indy.
And he traces to the most-recent Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.
But Secretariat’s breeding career has suffered from the outsized expectations of a racehorse who was truly great. To this day, there often are references to Secretariat being a disappointment at stud, many times coupled by references to him not reproducing himself as if any athlete that good could.
Secretariat was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974. He spent his entire stud career at Claiborne, where he was euthanized because of laminitis in October 1989. He is buried at Claiborne, where his gravesite is visited by fans the world over.
1948 – Citation
Ch. c., 1945, Bull Lea-Hydroplane, by Hyperion
Owner: Calumet Farm
Breeder: Calumet Farm
Trainers: Ben Jones and Jimmy Jones
Triple Crown jockey: Eddie Arcaro
Record through Triple Crown: 20-18-2-0
Record after Triple Crown: 25-14-8-2
Career record: 45-32-10-2
Greatness was expected from Citation before he ever got to the track, and greatness is what he produced. He was one of the finest racehorses of all-time, winning major races at 2, sweeping the Triple Crown at 3 during one of the greatest single seasons ever, then returning from an absence of more than a year in order to achieve one final goal, becoming the first earner of $1 million in racing history.
Citation won the Futurity at Belmont and the Pimlico Futurity at age 2 during a season in which he won eight times in nine starts and was named champion 2-year-old. His lone loss came against stablemate Bewitch, a filly who was coupled with him for betting purposes, in the Washington Futurity.
He was just getting started. Citation won 19 times in 20 starts as a 3-year-old, his lone loss coming in a six-furlong race on an off track at Havre de Grace. That was the first time Eddie Arcaro rode Citation after his regular rider, Albert Snider, drowned in the Florida Keys weeks earlier.
Citation won his next six starts to complete the Triple Crown, which that year was spread over six weeks, the Belmont coming four weeks after the Preakness. As a result, Citation knocked off the Jersey Derby between the Preakness and Belmont.
Jimmy Jones, the son of Ben Jones, trained Citation for the bulk of his career. But for the Derby Trial and the Derby itself, Citation was nominally turned over to Ben Jones, which enabled Ben Jones to be credited with his fourth Derby win. Jones would go on to win two more Derbies, and Jimmy Jones would win another two on his own.
After the Derby, and for the rest of Citation’s career – including the Preakness and the Belmont – Jimmy Jones was again listed as the trainer of Citation.
After sweeping the Triple Crown, Citation rattled off nine straight wins to close out the year – bringing his win streak to 15 – with a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and a walkover in the Pimlico Special among the highlights. In five of those races, he beat older horses. In his 19 races in 1948 in which there was betting, Citation was the odds-on favorite every time, his price never more than 2-5. Citation was named both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old.
By the end of his 3-year-old season, Citation had a career record of 27 wins and 2 seconds in 29 starts, and had earned more than $865,000.
Citation was injured in his final start at age 3, but Calumet’s Warren Wright was determined to try and make Citation the first horse to earn $1 million. Citation needed more than a year to recuperate. He spent the rest of his racing career in California.
Citation ran his win streak to 16 in his first start of 1950, and though he was not the same dominant racehorse of 1948, his 1950 record is compromised by the extreme weight Citation had to concede to his rivals. He won twice and was second seven times in 1950, his losses including a 1 1/4-length defeat in the Santa Anita Handicap when conceding 22 pounds to Noor and a nose loss to Noor in the San Juan Capistrano when giving Noor 13 pounds. His lone stakes win that year resulted in a world record when Citation won the Golden Gate Mile in 1:33.60. Had his career ended then, Citation would have had a record of 29 wins and 9 seconds in 38 starts.
Wright died in December 1950, but Citation was brought back in 1951 to try to fulfill Wright’s dream. Citation ran seven times in 1951, during which he finished out of the money in a race for the only time in his career. After winning the Hollywood Gold Cup to pass the $1 million mark, he was immediately retired. His record after his 3-year-old year was 16-5-8-2.
“He would have been better off if he had never run in those races in California,” Jimmy Jones told colleague David Grening when reporting for the book “Champions.”
“He should never be judged on his races after that injury,” Jones said.
At stud, Citation’s offspring included the filly Silver Spoon, a champion and Hall of Famer.
Citation was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959, the same year as Calumet’s other Triple Crown winner, Whirlaway. He died in 1970, and is buried at his birthplace, Calumet Farm in Kentucky, in an extensive, historic graveyard that also includes Whirlaway.
1946 – Assault
Ch. c., 1943, Bold Venture-Igual, by Equipoise
Owner: King Ranch
Breeder: King Ranch
Trainer: Max Hirsch
Triple Crown jockey: Warren Mehrtens
Record through Triple Crown: 15-7-2-1
Record after Triple Crown: 27-11-4-6
Career record: 42-18-6-7
Assault might be the least-known of the Triple Crown winners, even though he compiled a thoroughly admirable record both before and after the Triple Crown. He did not have the brilliance of the Triple Crown winners who book-ended him in 1943 (Count Fleet) or 1948 (Citation), and when he won the Triple Crown he became the fifth horse to do it in 12 years, so perhaps the achievement didn’t seem quite so special right then. More significantly to his legacy, though, may be that Assault was sterile at stud.
The fact that Assault accomplished as much as he did speaks volumes to his courage as well as the skill of Hall of Fame trainer Max Hirsch. Assault, bred and owned by the legendary King Ranch of Robert Kleberg, stepped on a surveyor’s stake as a weanling, injuring his right front foot and causing him to move with an awkward gait.
“I didn’t think he’d train at all,” Hirsch once said. “But he’s never shown any sign that it hurts him. When he walks or trots, you’d think he was going to fall down. . . . There isn’t a thing wrong with his action when he goes fast.”
Assault won just twice in nine starts at age 2, including a 70-1 upset in the Flash Stakes, one of two times he went off at odds of 70-1 or more that year. Not until the Preakness, following his eight-length victory in the Derby, was Assault favored in a race. Despite going for the Triple Crown, he was not even favored in the Belmont.
After a six-race losing streak in the summer and fall of 1946, Assault won the Pimlico Special – beating arch-rival Stymie – and the Westchester. He was champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year.
After losing twice in three starts against Stymie in 1946, Assault beat Stymie four times in five meetings in 1947, when Assault won races like the Suburban and Brooklyn. One of his greatest wins came in the Butler Handicap at Jamaica, when he carried 135 pounds, spotting nine pounds to Stymie and 18 to Gallorette, the champion mare of 1946.
After failing to get a single mare pregnant in spring 1948, Assault was sent back to the track. Physical issues – splints, bad knee, bad ankle – caused him to have lengthy gaps, twice for more than a year. By June 1949, he had run just twice since September 1947. But in 1949 he reached back for one of his best efforts and won the Brooklyn for a second time. After another year-long layoff, Assault ran three times at the end of 1950 and then was retired from racing. By competing until the end of his 7-year-old year, Assault owns the distinction of being the oldest at which a Triple Crown winner has raced.
Assault, the only Texas-bred to win the Triple Crown, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964. After he was retired from racing, Assault lived out his days at King Ranch, where he died in 1971 and is buried.
1943 – Count Fleet
Br. c., 1940, Reigh Count-Quickly, by Haste
Owner: Mrs. John D. Hertz
Breeder: Mrs. John D. Hertz
Trainer: Don Cameron
Triple Crown jockey: Johnny Longden
Record through Triple Crown: 21-16-4-1
Record after Triple Crown: 0-0-0-0
Career record: 21-16-4-1
Count Fleet is the Triple Crown winner who never had a second act, owing to his being injured in the Belmont Stakes.
He made 21 starts in 53 weeks, never finished out of the money, and won some of the sport’s biggest races prior to the Triple Crown. At age 2, he won the Champagne Stakes and Pimlico Futurity during a campaign that saw him win 10 of 15 starts, which brought him the title as champion 2-year-old.
Count Fleet trained at Oaklawn Park before heading to New York for his prep races for the Derby. Such was the importance of those months in Arkansas that he has a sprint stakes race named for him at Oaklawn, even though he never raced there.
At age 3, Count Fleet never lost, and he seemed to be getting even better as the Triple Crown races progressed, scoring daylight victories every time. He won the Withers in between the Preakness and Belmont, and in the Belmont romped by 25 lengths, a record margin that stood until Secretariat came along in 1973. Count Fleet became the fourth Triple Crown winner in a nine-year span. He was named champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year.
Count Fleet was a popular runner during a time when transportation was restricted owing to gas-rationing because of World War II. The 1943 Derby was known as the “Streetcar Derby,” because the attendance was almost exclusively made up of locals who used mass transportation to get to Churchill Downs.
Count Fleet was bred and raced in the name of Mrs. John D. Hertz. Fannie Hertz was the wife of the founder of both the eponymous rental-car company as well as the Yellow Cab company.
Longden, Count Fleet’s jockey, had a notable second act as a trainer. When Longden won the 1969 Kentucky Derby with Majestic Prince, he became the first – and still only – Derby-winning jockey to also train a Derby winner.
At stud, Count Fleet – a son of 1928 Derby winner Reigh Count – sired 1951 Derby winner Count Turf. Count Fleet was the sire of champions Counterpoint, Kiss Me Kate, and One Count, and the broodmare sire of 1965 Derby winner Lucky Debonair, five-time Horse of the Year Kelso, and the influential stallions Fleet Nasrullah and Prince John. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961.
Count Fleet died in 1973 and was buried at Stoner Creek Farm in Kentucky.
1941 – Whirlaway
Ch. c., 1938, Blenheim II-Dustwhirl, by Sweep
Owner: Calumet Farm
Breeder: Calumet Farm
Trainer: Ben A. Jones
Triple Crown jockey: Eddie Arcaro
Record through Triple Crown: 27-14-4-6
Record after Triple Crown: 33-18-11-3
Career record: 60-32-15-9
Whirlaway, nicknamed “Mr. Longtail,” ran in more races before the Triple Crown – 23 – than five of the first 11 Triple Crown winners did in their entire career. With 60 starts, he is the indisputable workhorse among Triple Crown winners. He won important races at age 2, including the Hopeful Stakes, and raced twice within 10 days of his start in the Derby, including a runner-up finish in the one-mile Derby Trial in which he went out the full Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles just four days before the Derby.
And as if sweeping the Triple Crown wasn’t enough work in a five-week span, he knocked off an allowance race against older horses between the Preakness and Belmont, just because he could.
His busy schedule continued right through the rest of his 3-year-old year, which included victories in the Travers and American Derby. He is the only Triple Crown winner to also have won the Travers. He made 20 starts at age 3, winning 13, and was voted Horse of the Year.
Whirlaway ran another 24 times, including 22 starts at age 4, which gives him the distinction of having made more post-Triple Crown starts (31) than any other Triple Crown winner. His 4-year-old campaign – for which he again was named Horse of the Year – was breathtaking for its frequency and success. He won 12 races, including the Dixie, Brooklyn, Massachusetts Handicap, Narragansett Special, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He won the Pimlico Special in a walkover when no other challengers faced him. One of his best efforts came in defeat, when he lost a match race against Alsab, that year’s Preakness winner and champion 3-year-old, when spotting him seven pounds over 1 3/16 miles at Narragansett.
His 4-year-old campaign took him to races in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Louisiana. Whirlaway also would have raced in California, where he was sent at the end of 1941, but racing was suspended there after Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941, a development that also curtailed non-essential rail travel and kept Whirlaway from racing until April 1942, more than six months after his final start at age 3. If not for that, he likely would have raced many more times.
Whirlaway came back at age 5, but disappointed in both starts and was retired. In 60 lifetime starts, he finished out of the money just four times.
Whirlaway entered stud in 1944 and had moderate success in the United States before being sent to France beginning with the 1951 breeding season. He died there in 1953 and is buried at his birthplace, Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.
1937 – War Admiral
Br. c., 1934, Man o’ War-Brushup, by Sweep
Owner: Glen Riddle Farm Stable
Breeder: Samuel D. Riddle
Trainer: George Conway
Triple Crown jockey: Charlie Kurtsinger
Record through Triple Crown: 11-8-2-1
Record after Triple Crown: 15-13-1-0
Career record: 26-21-3-1
War Admiral was Man o’ War’s greatest son, and in regards to the Triple Crown went one better, for Man o’ War did not run in the Derby in 1920. War Admiral did not run beyond six furlongs until his final prep before the Derby, but showed he could carry his speed and then some, leading all three legs of the Triple Crown in front-running fashion. In the Belmont, he stumbled at the start, tore off a piece of the wall of his right front foot, yet still set a track record of 2:28.60 for 1 1/2 miles, beating the old mark held by, yes, Man o’ War.
War Admiral got a break to recuperate after the Belmont and returned in the fall to win his three remaining starts at age 3, all in Maryland, to finish the year a perfect 8 for 8.
He continued his winning ways at age 4, winning eight of his first nine starts, the lone loss coming on a heavy track at Suffolk in the Massachusetts Handicap. War Admiral won such important races as the Widener, Whitney, Saratoga Cup, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
That fall, he returned to Maryland for the now-celebrated match race with Seabiscuit in the Pimlico Special. Seabiscuit had barnstormed from coast to coast, winning races and setting track records at Bay Meadows, Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Suffolk, and, most notably, Pimlico. In the Special, War Admiral was beaten at his own game. Normally one to make the lead, he was out-footed leaving the walk-up start by Seabiscuit and never caught him. Just 11 days later, War Admiral won the Rhode Island Handicap at Narragansett, completing a year in which he won 9 of 11 starts.
War Admiral raced just once at age 5, in an allowance race at Hialeah, but injured an ankle and was retired, having won 18 of his final 20 starts.
He was a terrific sire, his immediate offspring including the likes of Busher and Searching, both Hall of Famers. His influence has carried on for generations. For instance, he sired Busanda, the dam of the influential racehorse and broodmare sire Buckpasser. War Admiral was the leading broodmare sire in both 1962 and 1964. He traces to Triple Crown winners Affirmed, American Pharoah, and Seattle Slew.
War Admiral was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1958, one year before he died at age 25 in Kentucky. His remains are at the Kentucky Horse Park, part of a large memorial highlighted by the burial site of Man o’ War, whose bronze statue is at the entrance to the park.
1935 – Omaha
B. c., 1932, Gallant Fox-Flambino, by Wrack
Owner: Belair Stud Stable
Breeder: William Woodward Sr.
Trainer: James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons
Triple Crown jockey: Willie Saunders
Record through Triple Crown: 15-5-5-1
Record after Triple Crown: 7-4-2-1
Career record: 22-9-7-2
Omaha was from the first crop of Gallant Fox, who won the Triple Crown in 1930, and those two remain the only son and father to sweep the series. Both were bred and owned by the Belair Stud of William Woodward Sr. and trained during the Triple Crown by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons.
Omaha won just once in nine starts as a 2-year-old, but he blossomed into a star at age 3, winning six of his nine starts while never finishing out of the money. That year, the Derby was run the first Saturday in May, with the Preakness only a week later and the Belmont four weeks after the Preakness. Prior to the Belmont, though, Omaha ran in the Withers, finishing second to Rosemont at a one-mile distance that was short of his optimum. It proved a worthy prep, though, for the Belmont two weeks later.
Omaha was right back in action just two weeks after the Belmont when facing older horses for the first time in the Brooklyn, in which he finished a distant third behind Discovery. One week later, he won the Dwyer, and three weeks after that the Arlington Classic.
Although his 3-year-old campaign ended in July, Omaha was about to embark on a remarkable chapter of his career. He was sent by boat to Great Britain and turned over to trainer Cecil Boyd-Rochfort for a four-race campaign on turf, at distances of 1 1/2 miles or farther, all on right-handed courses, and he performed brilliantly, winning twice and narrowly losing twice in elite races like the Ascot Gold Cup, a race Woodward coveted, but in which Omaha came up a nose short. A year later, his full brother, Flares, won the Ascot Gold Cup. Omaha remains the only Triple Crown winner to race overseas.
Omaha went to stud at his birthplace, Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, but performed poorly as a stallion. After standing in New York, he was sent to Nebraska, where he made annual appearances at Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, Neb., where Omaha was buried after he died in 1959 at age 27, the same age at which his sire, Gallant Fox, died.
The exact whereabouts of Omaha’s grave are unknown. The Ak-Sar-Ben stands were expanded over his grave while the track was still operating, and after Ak-Sar-Ben closed in 1995 the property was developed. There is a memorial marker for Omaha at a park on the developed property.
Omaha was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.
1930 – Gallant Fox
B. c., 1927, Sir Gallahad III-Marguerite, by Celt
Owner: Belair Stud Stable
Breeder: Belair Stud
Trainer: James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons
Triple Crown jockey: Earl Sande
Record through Triple Crown: 11-6-2-2
Record after Triple Crown: 6-5-1-0
Career record: 17-11-3-2
The Triple Crown of today – three races, in five weeks, with the Derby preceding the Preakness and then the Belmont – was not always so. In 1930, Gallant Fox swept the series in just four weeks, and that year, the Preakness batted lead-off, with the Derby eight days later and then another three weeks to the Belmont. The distances of the three races, though, were exactly what they are today.
Gallant Fox raced at ages 2 and 3, and though he was a very good 2-year-old, he grew out of his awkwardness and was vastly improved at age 3, when he won his first six starts of the year, including the Triple Crown. Though there is great debate over when the term “Triple Crown” came into use, the headline on The New York Times story on that year’s Belmont Stakes result said Gallant Fox “Ties Sir Barton as Triple Crown Hero.”
He continued his strong Triple Crown form for much of the rest of the year. Two weeks after the Belmont, Gallant Fox went to Chicago and won the Arlington Classic with its mammoth – for that era – $78,000 purse, and later he won such major races as the Saratoga Cup, Lawrence Realization, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. For the year, Gallant Fox went 9 for 10, his lone loss coming on a heavy track in the Travers Stakes against the 100-1 shot Jim Dandy, the great irony being that now Jim Dandy has a far more important stakes race named after him than a Triple Crown winner like Gallant Fox.
Gallant Fox was represented by racing royalty, with the Belair Stud of William Woodward Sr. and trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons among the greats of the era. They produced a pair of Triple Crown winners in Gallant Fox and then his son Omaha just five years later. Earl Sande, a jockey so famous Damon Runyon waxed poetic over him – “a handy guy named Sande, bootin’ them babies in” – came out of retirement to ride Gallant Fox, beginning with his first start at age 3, the Wood Memorial. Sande was in an auto crash on the eve of the Belmont and rode with a bandage covering a laceration on his face.
“The Fox of Belair,” as Gallant Fox was nicknamed, was retired to stud after his 3-year-old season. Although he had a mere 18 foals in his first crop, Omaha was among them. Granville, the 1936 Belmont winner, and Flares, who won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1938, were from his second crop.
Gallant Fox lived until he was 27 years old, dying of old age at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where he is buried near his sire, Sir Gallahad III. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1957, three years after his death.
1919 – Sir Barton
Ch. c., 1916, Star Shoot-Lady Sterling, by Hanover
Owner: J.K.L. Ross
Breeder: John Madden and Vivian Gooch
Trainer: H. Guy Bedwell
Triple Crown jockey: John Loftus
Record through Triple Crown: 10-4-1-0
Record after Triple Crown: 21-9-5-5
Career record: 31-13-6-5
Sir Barton won the Triple Crown, but his connections didn’t even know it. The concept of sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont – and having it labeled a singular achievement – did not truly take hold until the 1930s, the feat championed most notably by the great racing writer Charles Hatton.
Sir Barton was a disappointment at 2, when he was well beaten in his first four starts before owner-breeder John Madden sold him to J.K.L. Ross, who turned him over to trainer H. Guy Bedwell. In his first start at 3, while still a maiden, Sir Barton was entered in the Kentucky Derby as an entrymate with the more highly regarded Billy Kelly and was expected to be his pacemaker. But Sir Barton, racing over a deep, heavy track – it took 2:09.80 for the 1 1/4 miles – led from start to finish and won by five lengths. He won the Preakness – run that year at 1 1/8 miles – just four days later, and with four weeks until the Belmont – run that year at 1 3/8 miles – he knocked off the Withers in between. Reports from that era say Sir Barton was known to have bad feet, but he raced nine more times at age 3 and never finished out of the money.
At age 4, Sir Barton raced 12 times – eight of those starts coming in Maryland – and won five. One of his wins came at the expense of Exterminator in the Saratoga Handicap. One of his losses came in a match race against that year’s best 3-year-old, the great Man o’ War, at Kenilworth Park in Canada. Exterminator, Man o’ War – looking through Sir Barton’s past performances is like a trip to the Hall of Fame.
Sir Barton was retired to stud, but even though he did sire 1928 Kentucky Oaks winner Easter Stockings, he was largely considered a disappointment. He eventually was donated to a remount division of the U.S. Army in Nebraska and later was sold to a rancher in Wyoming, the state where he died in 1937 and is buried. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1957, in the same class as Man o’ War.
Why on earth would you write definitively that Citation's former jock, Al Snider, drowned in the Florida Keys when no trace of him has ever been found? A lot of people feel he met with foul play.
3 jockeys arrested at Evangeline downs for race fixing not a peep from drf.
Interesting to see the #switchARoo of races order #kentuckyDerby #preaknessStakes #belmontStakes
Same question for Sir Barton. Also, in 1920, Sir Barton raced 7 out of 8 races at over 130 pounds. The one race was 129. Yeah, in the entire year, Sir Barton averaged 132.625 pounds during his 1920 season. I can't believe he had no stud value. Did they put him at the Military Fort to build moral amongst the troops? He died not like the "Rock Star" he really was. Imagine, the best rider at the time Earl Sande, almost gets him home on the Straight track at 6 Furlongs in the Futurity at Belmont's track, his trainer gives up on him... and he wins the Kentucky Derby as a Maiden (as a Coupled Entry where he'd have been 30-1 against 11 other horses if un-coupled). That is truly a "story-book" horse. I feel bad for him for not passing on his DNA to any significant degree.
Does anyone know what the "wb" means in Gallant Fox's PP's? Does it mean "Wraps/Blinkers" or something else?
Very interesting to see the past performances of Sir Barton. As a juvenile he failed to win in six starts and never raced past six furlongs. He had an eight month layoff entering the Kentucky Derby but won easily over 11 rivals. During his fall campaign that same year, he ran in eight races during a two month span. A different era, for sure.
Most didn't have great subsequent years after TC,,,,best was Affirmed, who guess, didn't lose, but insurance took more than winnings. Amer Phar won't get that chance, have Haskell, then a carefully selected race and maybe BC Classic, will have to beat LEA ?