2014 Belmont Stakes: The Triple Crown champions

Sir Barton: America's first Triple Crown winner.

We've spent plenty of time discussing the three-and-a-half decades of Triple Crown failures, perhaps we should take a moment to take a quick look back at the eleven horses to complete racing's most difficult feat.

The three week build-up to California Chrome's attempt at the Triple Crown has left us with more than enough time to ponder the woulda, coulda, and shoulda's of the last three-and-a-half decades. The painful memories of Triple Crown failures dominate the conversation because, quite frankly, Triple Crown glory continues to fade into the distance with each passing year. It's easier to remember Smarty Jones, Real Quiet, and Charismatic, than it is Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat.

The 36 year Triple Crown drought feels like 100 to many horse racing fans.

Sadly, a person would have to be 95 years old in order to claim they were alive when each of the 11 horses won the Triple Crown of American horse racing (and still be kicking today). A result of the lack of video at the times, the records and accomplishments of the earlier Triple Crown winners are relegated to old newspaper clippings and the result charts of the day. We have but bits and pieces surrounding the circumstances of horses like Sir Barton and Gallant Fox, while the pride of the 70s - Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed - at least have some decent moving pictures for us to gaze upon.

Despite the distant events of former Triple Crown glory, it's always wise to take a look back in history to remember the great champions of this sport's past.

Below is the list of horses that California Chrome will attempt to join with a victory in the 2014 Belmont Stakes - The Triple Crown winners.

Sir Barton - 1919

Trainer: H. Guy Bedwell
Jockey: Johnny Loftus
Owner: J.K.L. Ross

Sire: Star Shoot
Damsire: Hanover (Lady Sterling)

Lifetime Record: 31-13-6-5
Lifetime Earnings: $116,857

Notes -
  • Sir Barton's career earnings of $116,000 is equivalent to about $1.6 million in today's American greenbacks.
  • The Triple Crown really wasn't the Triple Crown in 1919, the common name for the three-race sweep - and it's popularity with the fan base - didn't occur until after Sir Barton's triumph.

Gallant Fox - 1930

Trainer: Jim Fitzsimmons
Jockey: Earl Sande
Owner: Belair Stud

Sire: Sir Gallahad III
Damsire: Celt (Marguerite)

Lifetime Record: 17-11-3-2
Lifetime Earnings: $328,165

Notes -
  • Gallant Fox is the only Triple Crown winner to sire another Triple Crown winner (Omaha). He also sired Flares, winner of the Ascot Gold Cup. Flares also won the Newmarket Stakes, Champion Stakes, and Princess of Wales's Stakes. Not bad.
  • Gallant Fox was beaten by 100/1 shot Jim Dandy in the 1930 Travers Stakes.

Omaha - 1935

Trainer: Jim Fitzsimmons
Jockey: Willie Saunders
Owner: Belair Stud

Sire: Gallant Fox
Damsire: Wrack (GB) (Flambino)

Lifetime Record: 22-9-7-2
Lifetime Earnings: $154,755

Notes -
  • His dam, Flambino, won the Gazelle Stakes and finished 3rd in the Belmont.
  • Damsire Wrack (GB) won both flat and hurdle races in England.
  • Omaha was buried at the now demolished Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack in Nebraska.

War Admiral - 1937

Trainer: George H. Conway
Jockey: Charley Kurtsinger
Owner: Samuel D. Riddle

Sire: Man o'War
Damsire: Sweep (Brushup)

Lifetime Record: 26-21-3-1
Lifetime Earnings: $273,240

Notes -
  • War Admiral's most notable accomplishment, at least to casual, non-hardcore racing fans, was his defeat to Seabiscuit in the Pimlico Special.
  • Sired the champion filly Busher.
  • War Admiral's remains are buried at the Man o'War Memorial at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Whirlaway - 1941

Trainer: Ben A. Jones
Jockey: Eddie Arcaro
Owner: Calumet Farm

Sire: Blenheim II
Damsire: Sweep (Dustwhirl)

Lifetime Record: 60-32-15-9
Lifetime Earnings: $561,161

Notes -
  • The first of two horses jockey Eddie Arcaro would ride to Triple Crown glory (Citation was the other).
  • As a four year old, Whirlaway won the Clark Handicap, Dixie Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Louisiana Handicap

Count Fleet - 1943

Trainer: Don Cameron
Jockey: Johnny Longden
Owner: Fannie Hertz

Sire: Reigh Count
Damsire: Haste (Quickly)

Lifetime Record: 21-16-4-1
Lifetime Earnings: $250,300

Notes -
  • Sire Reigh Count won the 1928 Kentucky Derby.
  • Count Fleet sired 1951 Belmont winner Counterpoint and Kentucky Derby winner Count Turf.

Assault - 1946

Trainer: Max Hirsch
Jockey: Warren Mehrtens
Owner: King Ranch

Sire: Bold Venture
Damsire: Equipoise (Igual)

Lifetime Record: 42-18-6-8
Lifetime Earnings: $675,470

Notes -
  • Assault is a Texas-bred and is buried at King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas.
  • Assault has no notable progeny as he was sterile at stud.
  • Sire Bold Venture won the 1936 Kentucky Derby and Preakness but due to a bowed a tendon he failed to contest the last leg of the Triple Crown and was retired. (Jeez, that sounds familiar.)

Citation - 1948

Trainer: Horace A. Jones
Jockey: Eddie Arcaro
Owner: Calumet Farm

Sire: Bull Lea
Damsire: Hyperion (Hydroplane (GB)

Lifetime Record: 45-32-10-2
Lifetime Earnings: $1,085,760

Notes -
  • Citation was the first horse to earn $1 million in his racing career.
  • Sire Bull Lea was a five-time leading sire in North America.
  • Sired Fabius (winner of the Preakness) and Silver Spoon (winner of the Santa Anita Derby)
  • Equaled Count Fleet's Belmont Stakes record with a final time of 2:28 1/5.
  • Citation is buried at Calumet Farm.

Secretariat - 1973

Trainer: Lucien Lauren
Jockey: Ron Turcotte
Owner: Meadow Stable

Sire: Bold Ruler
Damsire: Princequillo (Somethingroyal)

Lifetime Record: 21-16-3-1
Lifetime Earnings: $1,316,808

Notes -
  • Since 1936, only four horses have won the title of Horse of the Year as a two year old: Native Dancer (1952), Moccasin (1965), Favorite Trick (1997), and Secretariat (1973).
  • Beyond more known offspring of Lady's Secret and Risen Star, Secretariat sired Athyka, two-time winner of the G2-Prix de l'Opera in France, and Kingston Rule, winner of the G1-Melbourne Cup in Australia in record time of 3:16.30.
  • Secretariat is buried at Claiborne Farm.

Seattle Slew - 1977

Trainer: Billy Turner
Jockey: Jean Cruguet
Owner: Karen & Mickey Taylor

Sire: Bold Reasoning
Damsire: Poker (My Charmer)

Lifetime Record: 17-14-2-0
Lifetime Earnings: $1,208,726

Notes -
  • The first (and only) undefeated winner of the Triple Crown. Seattle Slew lost for the first time in his first race after the Belmont, the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.
  • Among the long list of progeny, Seattle Slew sired Slew o'Gold, winner of the Wood Memorial, Peter Pan, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2x), Woodward (2x), and Whitney; Swale, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes; Surfside, winner of the Santa Anita Oaks, Clark Handicap, and Breeders' Cup Distaff; and Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner and notable sire A.P. Indy.

Affirmed - 1978

Trainer: Laz Barrera
Jockey: Steven Cauthen
Owner: Harbor View Farm

Sire: Exclusive Native
Damsire: Crafty Admiral (Won't Tell You)

Lifetime Record: 29-22-5-1
Lifetime Earnings: $2,887,999

Notes -
  • Affirmed was a Florida-bred.
  • Sire Exclusive Native also sired champion filly Genuine Risk, winner of the 1980 Kentucky Derby.
  • Affirmed sired a personal favorite of mine - The Tin Man, winner of the Arlington Million at the age of eight.

Apparently, Affirmed broke the Triple Crown after winning the Belmont Stakes in 1978 cause we ain't seen one since. With any luck, we'll all live to see the day when another name is added to this list of great champions. Perhaps that name is California Chrome. Perhaps it's a horse well into the future.


Data, statistics, pedigree information, and video from PedigreeQuery.com, BelmontStakes.com, The American Racing Manual, and NYRA's YouTube site.

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