Monday, May 9, 2022

Triple Crown Winners

  By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, we took a close look at The Kentucky Derby, which just ran its 148th annual race this past weekend. If you missed that post, you can read it here. This month is about all 13 of the current title holders of the most prestigious honor in thoroughbred horse racing.


It doesn't matter if you know anything at all about horse racing or not. Nearly everyone has heard of the honor bestowed upon a champion horse who wins each of the 3 races which feature 3-year-old thoroughbreds of pure bloodlines. Think about it. A single horse has to win three difference races on three different tracks at three different distances, all within a five-week period.

Now, it's entirely possible you might not know what the Triple Crown means, but the term itself is still often quite familiar. With a little bit of research or through talking to someone who knows, you can easily find out more. The most important aspect of this prestigious title is knowing the thoroughbred has won The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Each of these races were inaugurated (or begun) in different years, but in over 145 years, only thirteen (13) horses have achieved the highest honor, and all 13 have been stallions. Three mares have won the Kentucky Derby, but no mare has ever won the Triple Crown...yet.

As I shared last month, the area where I live is called Tattersall Estates, named after the world-famous London horse breeding venture and auction, Tattersalls. Every trail (street) is named after a famous horse or is a term related to horse racing. I live on Secretariat Trail, named after the current record-holder since 1973 for the fastest time in all three of the Triple Crown races. He is the 9th horse to win the title, but I'm going to start in order.

1. Sir Barton (1919). He lost all of his six starts as a 2-year-old, and the Kentucky Derby was his 3-year-old debut. Sir Barton was sold to the U.S. Cavalry after his stud career and lived out his years on a Wyoming ranch.

2. Gallant Fox (1930). The Preakness was run before the Derby in 1930, and Gallant Fox won all three races in a 29-day span. He was sired by Sir Gallahad II, one of the first prominent European stallions imported to the U.S. Gallant Fox was also the first, and only, Triple Crown winner to sire a Triple Crown winner with his son Omaha.

3. Omaha (1935). Like his sire, Omaha was a Triple Crown winner bred and owned by Belair Stud in Kentucky and trained by “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons. Omaha lost the Withers after the Preakness, but rebounded to win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. Omaha started his stud career in Kentucky but was moved to a farm in Nebraska in 1950. He was later buried at the now-defunct Ak-Sar-Ben Race Track in Omaha.

4. War Admiral (1937). A son of the great Man o’ War, who skipped the Kentucky Derby but won the Preakness and Belmont, War Admiral captured the Triple Crown after stumbling and getting injured at the start of the Belmont. He famously lost a match race with Seabiscuit in 1938 but went on to sire 40 stakes winners from 320 starters, a remarkable 12.5 percent. That's quite a stud! :)

5. Whirlaway (1941). He won a monetary prize in each of his 42 starts as a 3- and 4-year-old, including the Triple Crown sweep, Travers Stakes, Brooklyn Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was the first of eight Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners for Calumet Farm, with a penchant for closing from the clouds. After his racing career, he was sold for stud duty to France.

6. Count Fleet (1943). This one was almost sold before he made it to the races due to his gangly conformation, but he ended up winning 10 of 15 starts as a 2-year-old. He was undefeated as a 3-year-old, being the favorite in each of the Triple Crown races and winning the Belmont by 25 lengths. As a stud, he sired two champions and Kentucky Derby winner Count Turf.

7. Assault (1946). Nicknamed the “club-footed comet” due to a malformed right front hoof resulting from an injury as a foal, Assault won the Kentucky Derby by eight lengths. He continued to race until he was 7 years old after proving infertile and later retired to King Ranch, the same place he was foaled.

8. Citation (1948). He began his sophomore season with two wins over older horses. He faced just five others in the Kentucky Derby and 15 total in all three Triple Crown races, but completed his 3-year-old season with 19 victories from 20 starts. He became racing’s first millionaire in 1951.

9. Secretariat (1973). He was named Horse of the Year as a 2-year-old after winning eight of nine starts and was the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, proceeding to set the stakes record in each of the three Triple Crown races, including an American record of 2 minutes, 24 seconds in the Belmont, a race he won by 31 lengths. Belmont Park has since installed a blue and white pole 31 lengths from the finish line, signifying the magnitude of Secretariat’s win. His records still stand today, nearly 50 years later. It's no wonder a movie was made about him.    

10. Seattle Slew (1977). He was the first and remained the only undefeated Triple Crown winner until Justify joined him in 2018. He sustained the first loss of his career in his next race after the Triple Crown. As a 4-year-old Seattle Slew won five of seven starts, including a win over fellow Triple Crown winner Affirmed in the 1978 Marlboro Cup. He sired Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and more than 100 other stakes winners.

11. Affirmed (1978). His rivalry with Alydar, the second-place finisher in each of the 1978 Triple Crown races, is one of the most famous rivalries in the sport. Though he lost to Seattle Slew in that year’s Marlboro Cup, Affirmed was named 1978 Horse of the Year, and he duplicated that title in 1979 with six straight wins. He was the first $2-million earner in Thoroughbred racing.

12. American Pharoah (2015). He ended the longest drought in Triple Crown history when he became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Like six of the last seven Triple Crown winners, the colt had been named 2-year-old champion in 2014. He wrapped up his career with a win in the Breeders' Cup Classic against older horses and was later named Horse of the Year. He has since taken up stud duty at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

13. Justify (2018). He became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. He began his career in mid-February 2018 and won three races before sweeping the Triple Crown. He is only the second Triple Crown winner to do so while undefeated. After sustaining a minor injury in summer 2018, he was retired to stud duty at Ashford Stud.

The Kentucky Derby was run this past weekend on May 7th. The Preakness Stakes will be run on May 21st, and the Belmont Stakes will be run on June 11th. Let's see if there's another thoroughbred who will make history this year!


* Have you ever seen any of the movies featuring any horse racing winners? Which one(s)?

* What are your favorite movies featuring a horse?

* Which one of the 13 horses listed above is your favorite? Why?

Leave answers to these questions or any comments you might have on this post in the comment box below. Come back on the 9th of June to learn about why Kentucky is called "The Bluegrass State."

For those interested in my "fictional" life as an author and industry news about other authors, subscribe to my newsletter. Receive a FREE omitted chapter from my book, A Grand Design, just for subscribing!

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children, two dogs, and two cats in Kentucky. She has sold twenty-six (26) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Thanks for posting today! I saw the movie "Seabiscuit", which I loved. I can't remember if I watched a movie about Secretariat or not. That might be my next movie search!

  2. I enjoy any movie about horses although I don't follow horse racing or even ride horses. I enjoyed Secretariat and Long Shot as far as movies go.