Horse racing may not be your cup of tea, but chances are, you've probably watched parts of the Triple Crown on NBC on your television in the past. And, if you haven't done that, you likely saw an inevitable commercial during a break for one of your favorite shows.
There have been a couple of popular race horses in recent years like American Pharaoh, Justify and Good Magic. There are lots of other horses, so we'd recommend that you do a Google search to learn more names if you want to learn more about the lovely horses that make this sport great.
Triple Crown, however, is arguably the most popular category of horse racing as its three races—Kentucky Derby, Preakness States and Belmont Stakes—are three of the most popular races in the sport. There are a ton of celebrities, including the British royal family, who come out to watch their favorite horses race to the finish line while dressed up in sophisticated outfits, and of course, large designer hats.
Horse racing is commonly displayed as a sport for the wealthy, but to be completely honest with you, anyone could learn how to watch horses compete on the horse track, which is also known as a field. You just have to be patient and ready to learn more about the sport like you'd learn about any other sport out there.
With all that being said, let's dive into horse racing and take a closer look at 20 little known facts about the Triple Crown.
20 Known As The World Series Of Horse Racing
Well, for brand-new starters, the Triple Crown derby consists of three totally different races, which are called the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Every race counts for legit points and standings, and therefore, all of the hard-working jockeys need to put in 100 percent of their blood, sweat and tears in their diligent preparation with their endearing race horses for an upcoming race on the horse track.
19 All Three Races Have Different Criterion For Entry
Yes, there are three separate races in the Triple Crown, but each race in the trio has a slightly different criteria for entry, but there's a similarity as entry is primarily based on a points system.
In case you didn't know, there are 34 officially graded races throughout the horse racing season that are assigned a value on a points system with winning horses adding accumulated points to their total on the season.
Moreover, the winning horse of the Kentucky Derby will automatically qualify for the Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes. That definitely can make life a little bit easier for that jockey and its horse.
18 It's Rare For A Horse To Win All Three Races
As you may already know, each and every one of the Triple Crown races has its own purse. The monetary prize is paid out to the top finishers at the end of each race.
But it's rare for a horse to win all three races in a single setting, and whenever something special like that occurs, there's a pool of $2.94 million in prize money and a plethora of excess fees that a horse can require for future breeding rights.
Now, can you imagine a star jockey and its award-winning horse laughing their way to the bank? It's most definitely a possibility.
17 Before American Pharoah, It Was 37 Years Since A Horse Won The Triple Crown
Contrary to popular belief, the Triple Crown hasn't always ruled in favor of the horses.
There was once an average Triple Crown winner during the 18 years between Gallant Fox in 1930 and Citation in 1948, but those fairly short spans were followed by an unfortunate 25-year wait until Secretariat captured a title in 1973.
Secretariat's victory was later followed by back-to-back victories from Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. After that, there was a super dry spell that lasted for 37 years until American Pharoah seized the Triple Crown in 2015.
As a shocker to many fans, it didn't take long for another winner to take the stage as Justify accomplished the feat in 2018.
16 There Are Other Derbies Besides The Triple Crown
A reader asked Town & Country Magazine, "Are there other derbies, besides the Triple Crown?"
Town & Country responded, "Lots! The racing season runs from September to June, with derbies held throughout. California and Florida are particularly rife—check out the Santa Anita Derby, El Camino Real Derby, Florida Derby, and Tampa Bay Derby—but you don't have to be coastal to get in a good derby day."
So if you want to check out a derby that's not the Triple Crown, you have plenty of options to choose from. Obviously it all depends on how far one is willing to travel for a race.
15 Horses' Stalls Can Cost Over $20,000 Each
Another reader asked Town & Country Magazine, "I worry about the horses. Are they treated well?"
Town & Country responded, "Race horses are incredibly expensive animals and their owners and the tracks they race on take very good care of that investment. The stalls the horses stay in at the track can routinely cost over $20,000 each and the health of the animals is monitored closely. Very closely."
Now, $20,000 or more for a stall is a huge chunk of money for most people out there, so I couldn't imagine how most, if not all, of the jockeys can handle extremely high expenses like this one in particular.
14 Veterinarians Are Called If Horses Don't Eat All Their Food
Speaking of the treatment of horses, the protocol is really strict. In fact, it may be a tad bit strict for your liking.
Oaklawn Park vice president Louis A. Cella told Town & Country Magazine, "If a horse so much as fails to eat all of its food, vets are called."
Wow! Talk about the importance of the health of each horse, even in their respective stalls! The jockeys and veterinarians seem to want the best and nothing but the best for their horses because getting a win without suffering a burnout is a major priority and not a trivial option.
13 All Three Races Have Their Own Official Cocktails
If you're a foodie like myself, you're probably going to enjoy this particular entry.
All three Triple Crown races have their own official cocktail, which is really cool! The Kentucky Derby specializes in the mint julep, which is usually made with bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed ice. The Belmont Stakes currently offer the Belmont jewel, which is a combination of bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice. Last but not least, the Preakness Stakes provides the black eyed susan, which is created with vodka, bourbon, orange juice and an unknown sour mix.
That being said, the Triple Crown is the perfect sporting event to invite your friends some to some classy drinks.
12 Large Ornate Hats Have Been A Tradition Since 1875
Some of you may be wondering what's up with the large ornate hats that both fans and celebrities wear to the Triple Crown.
Going back in time, those hats have been a Triple Crown tradition for female spectators since 1875 and that tradition found a way to stick around. Just look at this photo of model Kate Upton, who's married to Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, who's sporting a simple black and white hat.
Oh and these hats help women keep the blistering hot sun off of them, which is an added plus. So you can make good use of the hat even after the races are over.
11 Nearly 90 Percent Of Thoroughbreds Registered With The Jockey Club Are Brown
The headline of this entry pretty much explains it.
Nearly 90 percent of Thoroughbreds registered with The Jockey Club in the United States are a shade of brown. The remaining 10 percent covers Thoroughbreds who are a shade of gray, black or white.
There are also Thoroughbreds who come in palomino, buckskin, prelino, smoky black, smoky cream, cremello or spotted shades, but those are few and far between. Therefore, these Thoroughbreds won't be formally recognized by The Jockey Club. Sorry about that, different and unique horses who stand out from the usual crowd that's conventional looking and more normal to the jockeys.
10 There Have Only Been 13 Triple Crown Winners
The Triple Crown is far from an easy set of races. There have only been 13 winners in Triple Crown history thus far. That's a minuscule number, so let's go over that list for a second time.
There have only been 13 winners as of right now — Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharaoh (2015) and Justify (2018).
Furthermore, there have been 23 horses who have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but lost in the Belmont Stakes. Oh well, there's always next year to notch a perfect three win streak in the Triple Crown!
9 If A Horse Wins The Triple Crown And Breeders Cup Classic, It's Known As A 'Grand Slam Win'
Just to reiterate the headline of this entry, a horse's victory will be known as a Grand Slam victory if it wins the Triple Crown and proceeds to deliver a winning run in the Breeders Cup Classic.
That was exactly what Egyptian-American CEO and horse breeder Ahmed Zayat, who is of Jewish descent, and his horse, American Pharoah, accomplished in 2015.
In case you need a refresher, Zayat is the owner of Zayat Stables, LLC, where American Pharoah was born and raised.
Joe Drape of The New York Times has described Zayat as controversial and one of the most successful and flamboyant owners in horse racing.
8 Gallant Fox Is The Only Triple Crown Winner To Have Sired A Winner
In case you didn't know, to sire means to become the father of.
That being said, EverythingEq has noted a fact that you might not have been aware of. The late Gallant Fox (1927-1954) had won 11 races and raced in a total of 17 races. Gallant Fox was also known for being the only Triple Crown winner who sired a future Triple Crown winner. In fact, Gallant Fox sired not only one but two stars—Omaha (1932-1959) and Affirmed (1975-2011).
That doesn't mean to give one of those three horses more credit than the other. They were all extremely talented in their own ways, which is something to be proud of.
7 There Have Only Been Two Trainers In History To Saddle Two Triple Crown Winners
Here's a fun fact that you likely didn't know until this particular entry.
There have only been two trainers in horse racing history to have saddled two Triple Crown winners: The late James E. Fitzsimmons (1874-1966), who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha, along with Bob Baffert (born 1953), who trained American Pharoah and Justify.
These are two extraordinary trainers who obviously went ahead of the conventional pack in order to make history and attract a lot of attention to their respective names. They're both incredible men who deserve more recognition and praise for their career achievements from fans all over the world.
6 Almost All Of American Pharaoh's $2 Win Tickets Were Uncashed
You'd think that $2 win tickets for American Pharoah would've sold out when he won the Triple Crown and subsequently became the first horse to have won the Grand Slam, but that wasn't the case at all.
EverythingEq reported that there were 94,237 $2 tickets bought for American Pharoah, but 90,128 of those $2 tickets were uncashed the following Monday.
As far as we're concerned, the majority of those $2 tickets ended up becoming souvenirs for horse racing fans across the country. At least they didn't just end up in a trash can somewhere and were sold or auctioned for those who were simply wanting a memory.
5 No Filly Has Ever Won The Triple Crown
By definition, a filly is a female horse that's too young to be known as a mare.
A filly has never won the Triple Crown. There was a filly named Ruthless who won the 1876 Belmont Stakes, but that was just one race of the Triple Crown. Since then, there have only been two fillies who have won the Belmont Stakes. Moreover, there have only been five fillies who have won the Preakness Stakes and three fillies who have won the Kentucky Derby.
So yeah, there hasn't been a whole lot of female Thoroughbred success in Triple Crown history, but hopefully things will start to change in the near future.
4 African American Jockeys Dominated In The Early Years Of The Triple Crown
African American jockeys may be scarce in the Triple Crown today, but that wasn't the case for the old days.
You see, there were 13 African Americans out of the 15 jockeys in the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875. This surprising list included the late Oliver Lewis (1856-1924), who rode Aristides to a victory. Also, 15 of the first 28 Derby-winning jockeys were black. In addition, three-time victor Isaac Murphy (1861-1896) was known as one of the greatest riders in American Thoroughbred racing history.
There were many tremendous black jockeys, and if you want to learn more about them, just start off with a simple Google search.
3 There Were Seven Years Where It Was Impossible To Have A Triple Crown Winner
By now, you should already know that winning the Triple Crown is far from an easy task.
That being said, there were seven years where it was impossible to have a Triple Crown winner. In 1890, the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes were held on the same day. In 1917 and 1922, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes coincided on the calendar.
The Preakness Stakes weren't run between 1891 and 1893, while the Belmont Stakes were cancelled in back-to-back years of 1911 and 1912 after New York passed anti-gambling laws that failed to exempt horse racing.
Side Note: While horse racing was suspended at Belmont Park, the Wright Brothers brought airplane races to the track for a 10-day event in October 1910. The biggest highlight was a race to the Statue of Liberty, which drew a large crowd of 150,000.
2 The Term 'Triple Crown' Was Coined By Daily Racing Form Columnist Charles Hatton
Daily Racing Form columnist Charles Hatton was one of the many writers who were the inaugural selections to the National Museum of Racing's Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor at Belmont Park on Long Island.
Hatton also coined the term "Triple Crown" so you can thank him for that. He frequently used the term to refer to the trio of races in the 1930s and the term rubbed off on more owners and trainers, who started to prepare for these races. By the 1940s, newspapers were regularly using this term.
But the Triple Crown title wasn't formally proclaimed until the 1950 awards dinner of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations in New York. It was retroactively awarded to Sir Barton, the first horse to capture the Triple Crown in 1919. The title was then given to the pre-1950 winners at following awards dinners.
1 Favorites In Triple Crown Races Have Fared Well In Recent Years
The three races that make up the Triple Crown can be some of the most challenging races to handicap on this planet, but have no fear, as betting favorites have fared well in recent years.
The Kentucky Derby is arguably one of the most difficult races to figure out, but in the last 12 years, bettors have seen payoffs of $102.60 from Giacomo and $103.20 from Mine That Bird. However, favorites have dominated in this decade as California Chrome paid $7, American Pharaoh returned $7.80 and Nyquist made the favorites for three years in a row and paid his backers $6.60 for a $2 wager.
Side Note: The average payoff for the Kentucky Derby would be around $28.