If you’re not even mildly familiar with horse racing, you have probably still heard of the Kentucky Derby.
You may have even heard of the Triple Crown. And you’re likely aware that the Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest single betting events sportsbooks each year.
But what is the Triple Crown and what comes after?
The Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby, held the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs and has a $2 million purse. The Preakness Stakes held on the third Saturday of May at Pimlico and has a $1.5 million purse. And the Belmont Stakes which is usually held three weeks later at Belmont Park, also with a $1.5 million dollar purse.
The races have been around since the late 1800s. The Belmont stakes being the oldest of the three, first run in 1867. Preakness was birthed in 1873, and the Kentucky Derby in 1875. But that doesn’t mean that’s when the Triple Crown was created. The term wasn’t coined until the 1900s and wasn’t even widely recognized until Gallant Fox won the Triple Crown in 1930, even though Sir Barton won all three races in 1919.
The three most significant races in England are the Two Thousand Guineas, the Derby and Saint Leger. If a colt or a filly win all three in a single season, they have won the ‘Triple Crown.’ Mind you; these three races have been running for nearly 100 years longer, so the term Triple Crown in the United States was just reflecting the British series of races.
Since 1875 – the year that all three races began running in a single season – only 13 horses have claimed victory in all three, thus winning the Triple Crown.
Most recently was 2018, when Justify, a Chestnut Colt out of Kentucky completed the improbable task of winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. Justify had a magnificent year. Not only did he win the three most important races in America, but he won all six of his starts, which included two wins at Santa Anita as well.
Why is it so Hard?
Most horses don’t race more than once a month. They put every ounce of energy they’ve got into running at these tracks. And on top of that, there are travel and training to consider. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must beat the best of the best through three races in just five weeks.
Not only do they have to race, but travel from Kentucky to New York, then back down to Maryland. It’s a heck of an ordeal. Additionally, the tracks have slightly different distances, which tests the horses’ versatility. And often, as we saw at the Preakness Stakes in 2018, as it comes in late spring, one of the races will be a sloppy mess due to rain, further testing the horse.
What Comes After?
It would seem to many like the horse racing season peaks early. And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong because there is plenty after the Triple Crown. In fact, there are 81 major races after the Belmont Stakes, which completes the Triple Crown.
Notable Races After the Triple Crown:
- Belmont Deby Invitationals $1.25 Million
- Belmont Oaks $1 Million
- Whitney Handicap $1.5 Million
- Traver Stakes $1.25 Million
- Shadwell Turf Mile $1 Million
- Breeders’ Cup Classic $5 Million
The Breeders’ Cup is actually worth about S24.5 million in its entirety. The month of October belongs Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky. There are 13 Breeders’ Cup races all worth at least a million dollars:
- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
- Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
- Breeders’ Cup Distaff October
- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
- Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
- Breeders’ Cup Turf
- TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint
- Breeders’ Cup Mile
- Breeders’ Cup Classic
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the culmination of the season (although there are a few races after). And if a horse wins the Triple Crown, a win at the Breeders’ Cup Classic would make it a Grand Slam.
It much harder because it allows 3-year-olds and up and the track changes. In all of the years, only American Pharoah has captured all four trophies. In fact, only five other horses have captured the Breeders’ Cup Trophy plus one of the Triple Crown Trophies.