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Getting to Know the Triple Crown in US Horse Racing

Getting to Know the Triple Crown in US Horse Racing
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

If you’re a sports enthusiast with a bucket list full of trips to the biggest sporting events in the US, make sure you’ve got the three biggest horse races on your radar. The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes comprise the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing in the US. Only a select group of horses have managed to win all three races in the same season, with just two winners of the Triple Crown Trophy in this millennium – American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

Let’s look at the three races that make up the iconic Triple Crown, including the most talked about wins through the generations. We’ll explain where to find each race in the US, to help you make travel plans with your loved ones or friends.

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby kicks off the Triple Crown, and it just so happens to be one of the most legendary races in the world of horse racing. Some of the most iconic racetracks inspired the racecourse at Churchill Downs in English horse racing, namely Epsom – home of the Epsom Derby – and Doncaster – home of the St. Leger Stakes.

Churchill Downs has its own sportsbook, TwinSpires, which naturally offers competitive pre-race odds on the Kentucky Derby. It’s one of the four most popular horse racing betting sites in the US due largely to the pre-race video content that makes it easier to understand the form book and make picks.

The Kentucky Derby is staged on the first Saturday in May each year. This race carries a prize purse of over $2 million. Secretariat set the record time for the race, posting one minute and 59.40 seconds in 1973.

The Preakness Stakes

Baltimore, Maryland, opens its arms to horse racing fans for the Preakness Stakes on the third Saturday in May. Staged a fortnight after the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes is the middle leg in the Triple Crown. Run over nine-and-a-half furlongs. This is always a keenly contested race – apart from in 2004 when Smarty Jones stole a march on the field to sprint clear and won by 11-and-a-half lengths.

The biggest shock at the Preakness Stakes occurred in 1975. Master Derby was a 23/1 long shot when he upset the form book to defeat pre-race favorite Foolish Pleasure by a length.

The Belmont Stakes

The oldest and longest of the three races in the US Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is staged at Belmont Park Racecourse in Elmont, New York. It is regarded as the “Test of a Champion.” The racetrack is said to be the hardest of the three to negotiate. This serves to heighten the pre-race tension, particularly if a thoroughbred has managed to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the weeks before this race. It’s staged annually on the second or third Saturday in June.

Secretariat retains the record for the biggest margin of victory in the Belmont Stakes. In 1973, he won by 31 lengths to land the Triple Crown Trophy in style. It’s certainly been a race to take on the pre-race favorites. As of 2017, just 42% of favorites went on to win the Belmont Stakes.

Featured Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash