The Triple Crown is a series of three horse races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, run each year in the United States between May and June. To take out the Triple Crown a horse needs to finish first in each of these races. Winning the Triple Crown is considered to be the highest possible achievement in U.S. horse racing. Although the first winner of the title was Sir Barton in 1919, these races were not classified under the title until 1930 when Gallant Fox took the title. It is very difficult to win the title and only 11 horses in history have been the Triple Crown champion from almost 4,000 entrants!
Which horse was the last to win the Triple Crown?
The most recent horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. Affirmed went into the Kentucky derby second favorite to great rival Alydar, who amazingly came second in each race in each race, and ended up winning by one and a half lengths. The Preakness Stakes was much closer and Affirmed won by just a neck. Saving the best race for last, Affirmed, who looked to be beaten, managed to find something to beat Alydar on the line by a nose (see the following video of the famous race)!
As a three year old, the age permitted for the Triple Crown races, Affirmed won 8 races from 11 starts. He won both the Horse of the Year and American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse. His earnings for the year were $901,541 and he went on to win almost $2.4 million during his career. This made him the first horse to win over $2 million in North America!
Did you know?
Affirmed had a fine pedigree and was the great-great grandson of 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
In 1995 trainer Darrell Wayne Lukas became the only person to win each of the races that make up the Triple Crown with different horses! He trained both Thunder Gulch, who won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and Timber Country who won the Preakness Stakes.