A look at Triple Crown winners
2015: American Pharoah
American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown when he won the 147th Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion, American Pharoah began the day as a 3-to-5 favorite in the morning betting line, and those were the odds when the race began. He started from the fifth position in a field of eight.
American Pharoah becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, beginning with Sir Barton in 1919 and most recently Affirmed in 1978. After Affirmed's Triple Crown win, 12 horses won the first two legs of the Triple, only to lose the bid at the Belmont, either because of an upset or because they did not start or complete the race.
The gallant chestnut colt established himself as the most tenacious Triple Crown winner, if not the greatest in terms of pure talent.
Bred and raced by Louis Wolfson's Harbor View Farm, Affirmed battled his arch rival Alydar six times when both were 2-year-olds, emerging victorious four times. They continued to race as 3-year-olds, with Affirmed and jockey Steve Cauthen prevailing over Alydar and Jorge Velasquez by 1«-lengths in the Kentucky Derby, a neck in the Preakness and a desperate head in the Belmont after a thrilling duel through the final seven furlongs. By year's end, the two had met 10 times, with Affirmed winning seven races.
The son of Exclusive Native was retired with a record of 22 wins from 26 starts and earnings of $2,393,818, making him the first horse to compile a bankroll of more than $2 million.
1977: Seattle Slew
One of racing's greatest bargains, having been purchased from a yearling sale for just $17,500 by owners Mickey and Karen Taylor, Seattle Slew entered the Kentucky Derby as the 1-2 favorite after running his record to 6-for-6. He gave his owners and trainer Billy Turner Jr. a horrible scare by nearly falling at the break and getting away about a half-dozen lengths behind the leaders. Jockey Jean Cruguet quickly rushed the dark bay colt up to engage the leaders after only a quarter mile, and the colt slowly drew away in the stretch to post a 1 _-length victory over Run Dusty Run. Seattle Slew's wins in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes were far less eventful and much easier.
He remained a force in the handicap ranks through his 4-year-old season, when he survived a near-fatal illness and returned to beat fellow Triple Crown winner Affirmed in the Marlboro Cup before being retired with a record of 14 wins in 17 starts, and earnings of $1,208,726.
Secretariat delivered for trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte in the Kentucky Derby with a scintillating 2 1/2-length victory over Sham in 1:59 2/5, the only sub 2-minute Derby in history until Monarchos stopped the clock in 1:59.97 in 2001.
After beating Sham by the same margin in the Preakness, the Claiborne Farm color-bearer turned in what many consider the best performance by a thoroughbred, beating the nearest of four rivals in the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. Announcer Chic Anderson's call of the stretch run remains one of racing's best: "Secretariat is blazing along! The first three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 4/5. Secretariat is widening now. He is moving like a tremendous machine!"
Having been syndicated for a record $6.08 million, the chesnut colt considered by many to be the greatest of the century was retired at the end of his 3-year-old season, with a lifetime record of 16 wins in 21 starts and earnings of $1,316,808.
The first racehorse to be mentioned in the same breath as Man o' War as the greatest racehorse of the century, Citation gave Calumet Farm and trainer Ben Jones their second Triple Crown winner in seven years.
Described as a "well-oiled machine,", the bay colt won 27 of 29 starts in his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. One of those losses occurred when Eddie Arcaro replaced Citation's regular rider Al Snider, who disappeared during an Everglades fishing trip. As a 3-year-old, he won 15 in a row, including the Triple Crown races, with almost ridiculous ease. He ran the winning streak to a modern record 16 straight in 1950, after missing all of 1949 with ankle and tendon injuries.
The son of Bull Lea was retired in 1951 with a lifetime record of 32 wins in 45 starts and $1,085,760 in earnings, making him racing's first millionaire.
One of just two Texas-breds ever to win the Kentucky Derby, Assault also defied the odds by developing into a top-flight racehorse despite a serious injury as a weanling that left him with a crooked right foreleg and an odd, ambling way of walking.
After winning just twice as a 2-year-old for Robert Kleberg Jr.'s King Ranch, the Max Hirsch-trained chestnut colt rebounded as a 3-year-old to win eight times in 15 starts. The closest call of the 1946 Triple Crown came in the Preakness, when an obviously tired Assault prevailed by a neck over Lord Boswell.
The son of Bold Venture won his last race at the ripe old age of 7 before being retired with a record of 18 wins in 42 starts and $675,470 in earnings.
1943: Count Fleet
A blazing-fast brown colt, Count Fleet was assigned the highest weight ever - 132 pounds - in the Experimental Free Handicap, a method in which Jockey Club racing secretaries assess the accomplishments of sophomores.
Owned by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Hertz, the Count finished his illustrious career by going 6-for-6 as a 3-year-old for trainer G.D. Cameron and jockey Johnny Longden, winning the Wood Memorial and Withers Stakes in addition to the Triple Crown races. By the time he reached the Belmont Stakes, the competition was so demoralized that he had only to beat two allowance horses, whom he crushed by 25 lengths.
For his career, the son of Reigh Count finished first in 16 of 21 starts, earning $250,300.
Known as "Mr. Longtail" for his flowing tress, Whirlaway was the horse that put owner Warren Wright Sr.'s storied Calumet Farm on the map.
Whirlaway was difficult to ride because of his habit of going wide on the turns, so trainer Ben Jones fitted the chestnut colt with blinkers and engaged the services of riding great Eddie Arcaro. The result: an eight-length Kentucky Derby victory in track record time of 2:01 2/5 - a mark that stood for 20 years - and the fifth Triple Crown.
The first thoroughbred to win more than half a million dollars, Whirlaway was retired with 32 victories from 60 starts and $561,161 in earnings.
1937: War Admiral
This smallish brown colt was a son of the great Man o' War, though he bore little physical resemblance to "Big Red." He did his daddy, trainer George Conway and owner Glen Riddle Farms proud in his 3-year-old season, reeling off eight wins from eight races, including his Triple Crown victories under jockey Charles Kurtsinger.
He continued to be a dominating force in the handicap ranks through his 5-year-old season, winning eight more stakes races but losing to Seabiscuit in a much-heralded East vs. West match race at Pimlico. War Admiral retired to a successful second career as a sire with a record of 21 wins from 26 starts and $273,240 in earnings.
This rangy chestnut colt made the Triple Crown a family affair for trainer "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons and owner Belair Stud, who teamed up to win the series with his sire, Gallant Fox, in 1930. He was riden by jockey Willie Sanders throughout his Triple Crown campaign.
Omaha retired with a lifetime record of nine wins from 22 starts and $154,755 in earnings.
1930: Gallant Fox
This bay colt didn't appear bound for greatness as a 2-year-old, when he won twice from seven starts, but the son of Sir Galahad III exploded as a 3-year-old. He won nine times in 10 starts for rider Earl Sande, trainer "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons and owner Belair Stud. His only loss of the year was one for the ages, when 100-1 shot Jim Dandy upset the field in the Travers Stakes.
Gallant Fox retired to stud duty after his 3-year-old season with a lifetime record of 11 wins from 17 starts and $328,165 in earnings. He earned further distinction in the breeding shed by siring Omaha and becoming the only Triple Crown winner to sire another.
1919: Sir Barton
Purchased for $10,000, Sir Barton was one of racing's best rags-to-roses stories. The chestnut colt went 0-for-6 as a 2-year-old, and in the estimation of most handicappers was entered in the Kentucky Derby to set the pace for his highly regarded stablemate, Billy Kelly. Instead, with John Loftus in the saddle, the H.G. Bedwell-trained colt became the first winner of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and the horse for whom the term Triple Crown was coined.
Sir Barton finished his career with a record of 13 wins from 31 starts and $116,857 in earnings.
The following horses had a Triple Crown bid alive going into the Belmont Stakes, but could not complete the feat. Listed alongside them are their Belmont finish and the Belmont winner:
Burgoo King (1932) -- Did not race -- Faireno
Bold Venture (1936) -- Did not race -- Granville
Pensive (1944) -- Second -- Bounding Home
Tim Tam (1958) -- Second -- Cavan
Carry Back (1961) -- Seventh -- Sherluck
Northern Dancer (1964) -- Third -- Quadrangle
Kauai King (1966) -- Fourth -- Amberoid
Forward Pass* (1968) -- Second Stage -- Door Johnny
Majestic Prince (1969) -- Second -- Arts and Letters
Canonero II (1971) -- Fourth -- Pass Catcher
Spectacular Bid (1979) -- Third -- Coastal
Pleasant Colony (1981) -- Third -- Summing
Alysheba (1987) -- Fourth -- Bet Twice
Sunday Silence (1989) -- Second -- Easy Goer
Silver Charm (1997) -- Second -- Touch Gold
Real Quiet (1998) -- Second -- Victory Gallop
Charismatic (1999) -- Third -- Lemon Drop Kid
War Emblem (2002) -- Eighth -- Sarava
Funny Cide (2003) -- Third -- Empire Maker
Smarty Jones (2004) -- Second -- Birdstone
Big Brown (2008) -- Ninth (last) -- Da' Tara
I'll Have Another (2012) -- Did not race -- Union Rags
California Chrome (2014) -- Fourth -- Tonalist
*Won Kentucky Derby via disqualification of Dancer's Image for prohibited medication