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2023 Kentucky Derby: How many horses have achieved Triple Crown status?

With the Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass Stakes here, Kenny Rice (@KennyRiceSports) explains why multiple horses will look for momentum against Forte with the Kentucky Derby looming.

Each year, an elite batch of horses battle for some of America’s most prestigious horse racing titles. Whether it be a Run for the Roses triumph, a Preakness Stakes victory or a Belmont Stakes success, it goes without saying that one trophy stands above them all — the Triple Crown trophy. This year, the road to the Triple Crown begins with the Kentucky Derby, Saturday May 6th on NBC and Peacock.

While a Triple Crown achievement is a rarity in American horse racing, there is a batch of horses throughout history who have attained the glorious title, forever to be remembered in history as a Triple Crown Champion.

RELATED: Click here for all NBC horse racing content

What is the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown of American horse racing is a title given to a three-year-old Thoroughbred that manages to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes all in the same season.

The Triple Crown was first popularized in America in the 1930s by journalist Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form. After the name picked up steam in the following decades, it was officially established as a title in December of 1950 at the annual awards dinner of the Thoroughbreds Racing Associations in New York.

Regardless of the date the name was dubbed, the Triple Crown achievement was still awarded to horses that had won prior to 1950.

RELATED: What is the meaning of the Kentucky Derby?

How many horses have won the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown title is well-known for its elusive nature, as only 13 horses have earned the title in American horse racing. See below for the full list of Triple Crown winners:

Sir Barton, 1919

  • Guy Bedwell (trainer), Johnny Loftus (jockey)

Gallant Fox, 1930

  • Jim Fitzsimmons (trainer), Earl Sande (jockey)

Omaha, 1935

  • Jim Fitzsimmons (trainer), Will “Smokey” Saunders (jockey)

War Admiral, 1937

  • George Conway (trainer), Charles Kurtsinger (jockey)

Whirlaway, 1941

  • Ben A. Jones (trainer), Eddie Arcaro (jockey)

Count Fleet, 1943

  • Don Cameron (trainer), Johnny Longden (jockey)

Assault, 1946

  • Max Hirsch (trainer), Warren Mehrtens (jockey)

Citation, 1948

  • Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones (trainer), Eddie Arcaro (jockey)

Secretariat, 1973

  • Lucien Laurin (trainer), Ron Turcotte (jockey)

Seattle Slew, 1977

  • William H. Turner Jr. (trainer), Jean Cruguet (jockey)

Affirmed, 1978

  • Laz Barrera (trainer), Steve Cauthen (jockey)

American Pharoah, 2015

  • Bob Baffert (trainer), Victor Espinoza (jockey)

Justify, 2018

  • Bob Baffert (trainer), Mike Smith (jockey)

RELATED: Which Triple Crown winner was the fastest?

Who won the first Triple Crown?

While the term Triple Crown was not coined until 1950, Sir Barton was the first horse to record a win in all three races in 1919.

Remembered as an unfriendly colt with a dislike for most humans, Sir Barton was just as aggressive on the track as he was off. After losing all six of his starts as a two-year-old, however, hopes were not high for the chestnut thoroughbred at the Run for the Roses.

Sir Barton was supposed to act as a rabbit for his favored stablemate Billy Kelly in the 1919 Kentucky Derby. Sir Barton, however, had no intention of slowing down and giving away the win, as he led the field from start to finish and took the Run for the Roses by five lengths.

Just four days after, he took home the crown at the Preakness at Pimlico before cementing his legacy at the Belmont Stakes, setting the American record for the fastest mile and three-eighths race, notching a 2:17.25.

Has any trainer won the Triple Crown more than once?

In the extensive history of American horse racing, just two trainers have directed a horse to a Triple Crown title more than one time.

The first of these is James E. “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who trained both Gallant Fox and Omaha for the Belair Stud. Fitzsimmons, a native of Sheepshead Bay, New York, began his career in 1885 at a racetrack as a stable boy. After ten years as a jockey, Fitzsimmons then shifted to the profession of horse trainer, one that would show him much success. Throughout his career, “Sunny Jim” trained three Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners and six Belmont stakes winners.

The only trainer to achieve the feat of multiple Triple Crowns since Fitzsimmons is Bob Baffert, who trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify. The Arizona native’s career in horseracing began at the young age of 10, when he practiced racing his father’s Quarter Horses on a racetrack.

RELATED: Relive each leg of Justify’s Triple Crown win

After working as a jockey in informal Quarter Horse races in his teens, Baffert advanced to racing on recognized tracks, taking home his first victory when he was 17. Horses trained under Baffert have achieved a record six Kentucky Derby wins, seven Preakness Stakes wins and three Belmont Stakes wins.

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