There is no bigger prize in horse racing than the Triple Crown. Each year the best three-year-old horses in the country compete in a series of three grueling contests to prove their talent. If one horse manages to win all three events, that horse becomes a Triple Crown champion. Only 13 horses in the history of American racing have managed to gain this honor. Here are some fundamental facts that you need to know when you bet these races at your online racebook.
The Triple Crown Events
There are three events which make up the Triple Crown. These races are held at three different race tracks and three different distances over a five-week period that begins each year on the first Saturday in May. Only three-year-old horses may compete in the events, and they are usually all males. On a rare occasion a filly may run with the boys, and she might even win one of the contests.
The Kentucky Derby is the first event on the schedule. It is held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. This race draws thousands of people each year, and millions more watch on television. You can also stream the race live at your preferred online racebook. The distance of the race is 1 ¼ miles. None of the horses in the race will have ever competed at that distance before.
The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course is held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. It is the shortest of the three events, contested at a distance of 1 3/16 miles. Some people consider this the easiest race of the three to win, and many winners of the Kentucky Derby have returned in the Preakness to achieve victory once more. The Preakness is always a shorter field of horses than the Kentucky Derby. Sometimes it can go with ten or less entrants, while the Kentucky Derby always has a field of 20.
The final event in the series is the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York. This race is called “The Test of the Champion” because it is the last hurdle that must be overcome before a horse is named the Triple Crown champion. The race is a test of endurance at 1 ½ miles. It takes almost 2 ½ minutes for the horses to complete the race. The Belmont Stakes has been the downfall of many horses. Several have tried to complete the sweep and failed in New York.
These three racing events will always be the contests associated with the Triple Crown. There has been talk in recent years of eliminating the Preakness Stakes and replacing it with another event, but there is simply too much history to contend with. The likely scenario if one of these races were to be halted is that the Triple Crown would cease to exist.
Why is it So Hard to Win the Triple Crown?
For more than 100 years horses have been trying to win the Triple Crown. Justify became the 13th horse to achieve the feat in 2018, preceded by American Pharoah in 2015. Both horses were trained by Bob Baffert. Far more horses have tried and failed than those who have won. The Triple Crown explained cannot be complete without considering why it is such a hard series to win.
The horses are young animals that have never been tested this way before. At the age of three a horse’s body is still developing, and many of these horses are not fully three when they compete. This can often lead to injuries which will cause a horse to exit the series after a win. The legendary Barbaro seemed a lock to win the Triple Crown in 2006 after dominating the Kentucky Derby. The horse shattered his leg in the Preakness and had to be humanely destroyed.
Some horses may not be able to handle the stress of traveling to three different tracks and racing three times in five weeks. It is standard for trainers to race high-quality horses as little as once per month. Most of them will never face such a tough schedule again once they have finished with the Triple Crown.
In recent years it has also been customary for trainers to hold horses out of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, resting them for the Belmont Stakes. These horses are called “New Shooters” and they enter the race rested. Many of them are able to pressure the tired horse that is trying for the Triple Crown and cost that horse the victory. Perhaps the most famous instance of this in recent memory was the defeat of California Chrome by a New Shooter in 2014. After the race it was also discovered that California Chrome had hurt himself leaving the gate.
Fans can be very upset when a horse upsets the Triple Crown bid of another. When Smarty Jones was defeated in his Triple Crown bid by Birdstone in 2004, the hostile fans threw things at Birdstone’s elderly owner. Everyone wants to see a horse successfully complete the quest.
The truth is that the Triple Crown is meant to be a difficult series to win. It is not supposed to be easy. Instead it is meant to reward greatness, and greatness in horse racing only comes to a select few. If the rules were changed, the Triple Crown would lose its value. Every horse that has managed to win the title has had to overcome obstacles along the way to victory. Secretariat. Citation. Seattle Slew. Affirmed. These are the race horse names that people remember, and they remember them because the horses had the ability to win racing greatest contest.
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