The Triple Crown is the highest achievement in horse racing. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Only twelve horses have ever won the Triple Crown, in part due to the wide variation of the different tracks and limits on participation. Below is a quick primer on the Triple Crown.
The Belmont Stakes was first run in 1867, the Preakness Stakes was run for the first time in 1873, and the Kentucky Derby was first run in 1875. The term “Triple Crown” became widely used after the Crown was won for the second time in 1930. The term was borrowed from the English, who also have three important horse races.
The Triple Crown is limited to three year old Thoroughbreds, meaning that each horse has only one opportunity to win the Crown. In addition, most elite Thoroughbreds run once a month or so at a track close to home. The Triple Crown requires these horse to run three races in just under five weeks at tracks all over the country. Each track has its own set of conditions. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must be able to handle extensive travel, run in multiple races in a short time, and must be flexible enough to adapt to different conditions at each track.
What Are The Races in the Triple Crown?
- The Kentucky Derby is the first race to be run each year. It is often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, The race is 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
- The Preakness Stakes, also called the “middle jewel” in the series, is held two week after the Kentucky Derby at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, and is 1 3/16 miles long.
- The Belmont Stakes is the final race, and it is run near New York City at Belmont Park three weeks after the Preakness. The Belmont Stakes is 1 ½ miles.
The Triple Crown takes place each year beginning in May. Though only twelve horses have ever won the Triple Crown, owners, trainers, and jockeys set their hopes on the Crown every year. Between the substantial prize money for winning each race and the value of the horse for breeding after a Triple Crown win, the elusive Crown is worth millions of dollars and is the goal of many owners.