TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS
Triple Crown winners are a rare breed. There have only been 11 of them since they started calling the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont races the “Triple Crown” back in the early 1930’s. Many have come close, winning the Derby and Preakness, but only 11 have completed the task which shows you just how difficult it is.
The sport of horse racing desperately needs a Triple Crown winner. The sport has been on the decline for many years and the Barbaro tragedy a couple of years ago, and now Eight Belles going down in the Derby haven’t helped matters. That’s not the way to draw in a new generation of fans.
Back in 1977, as a twelve year old kid, I watched Seattle Slew win all 3 legs of the Triple Crown, and I was hooked. The very next year I watched Affirmed out duel Alydar to win the Triple Crown. Heck, I thought Triple Crown winners were common! Something that happened every few years. Those just a few years older than me must have figured the same as it was 1973 that the world watched Secretariat roar down the stretch in the Belmont. Three Triple Crown winners in the span of 5 years. Horse racing was at it’s peak.
Little did I realize how rare Triple Crown winners were. I didn’t realize, back in 77, that the last horse to win the Triple Crown prior to Secretariat was Citation back in 1948, a span of 25 years. Now here we are in 2013 and it’s been 30+ years since Alydar.
But once again, as has been the case many times over the years, there’s hope. Each year as the calendar turns to May there’s hope and anticipation that this will be the year. There’s been some big names. Some famous horses that most people remember, that have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but failed in the Belmont. Names like Spectacular Bid, Sunday Silence, and recently Funny Cide and Smarty Jones.
It’s so difficult because were asking these horses to run in 3 races in a time span of just 5 weeks at distances they have never run before. Which makes the Belmont Stakes, the longest of the tree races, the most difficult and is why great horses like Pleasant Colony and Silver Charm come up just short.
True fans never give up hope. I’ll be sitting there as always this year, watching the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness and rooting for a Triple Crown winner regardless of who I bet on in the races. If someone can pull it off , he or she will be able to reach whole new generation of fans that horse racing so desperately needs. Lots of pressure for a 3 year old, but pressure these beautiful animals can handle with ease.