Triple Crown records

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April 24th, 2020

Next weekend, you can celebrate the first Saturday in May with Churchill Downs’ "Kentucky Derby Party at Home," a day-long event aimed at raising $2 million for COVID-19 emergency relief efforts.

The special broadcast on May 2 will feature the 2015 Kentucky Derby, which began American Pharoah’s Triple Crown run. It will also include Churchill Downs’ first ever virtual horse race, made up of the 13 past Triple Crown winners.

You can learn more about the exciting simulation here. In the meantime, here are some of the facts, figures, and record-setting performances behind the Triple Crown — comprised of the Kentucky Derby (1 1/4 miles), the Preakness Stakes (1 3/16 miles), and the Belmont Stakes (1 1/2 miles).

*From 1911-1924, the Preakness was run at 1 1/8 miles. From 1906-1925, the Belmont was run at 1.375 miles.

Fastest Triple Crown winner

With a combined time of 6:16.40 across the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, Secretariat is the fastest Triple Crown winner. "Big Red" not only clocked the best cumulative time during his 1973 Triple Crown campaign, but he holds the record time for each of the Triple Crown races — 1:59.40 in the Kentucky Derby, 1:53:00 in the Preakness, and 2:24 in the Belmont.

Only one other Kentucky Derby winner has broken the two-minute barrier in the race. In 2001, John Ward-trained Monarchos crossed the finish line with a time of 1:59.97 in Derby 127. 

Horse with largest length win

In a field of just five horses at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, Secretariat crossed the finish line with a whopping 31-length lead.

Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Assault are tied with Old Rosebud (1914) and Johnstown (1939) for the largest win margin (eight lengths) in the Derby.

The Preakness record for margin of victory is held by Smarty Jones (2004), who won the race by 11 1/2 lengths. He also claimed the Derby that year but lost by one length to 36-1 longshot Birdstone in the Belmont. 

Jockey with most Triple Crown victories

The only jockey to ride two horses to a Triple Crown is Eddie Arcaro, who was aboard Ben Jones-trained Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation, trained by Jones' son Jimmy, in 1948.

Arcaro is the winningest jockey in Preakness history (6) and is tied for most Derby (5) and Belmont (6) victories. Often regarded as the greatest jockey in Thoroughbred history, Acaro also won the Kentucky Oaks four times, the Wood Memorial nine times, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup 10 times.

Trainer with most Triple Crown victories

James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons became the first trainer to win more than one Triple Crown, when Omaha accomplished the feat for him in 1935. The colt’s sire, Gallant Fox, also trained by Fitzsimmons, secured the Triple Crown in 1930. Gallant Fox and Omaha are the only father-son duo to earn the Triple Crown.

Bob Baffert is the second multiple-Triple Crown winner, as trainer of American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

Owner with most Triple Crown victories

Belair Stud became the first owner of two Triple Crown horses, with Gallant Fox and Omaha. Calumet Farm is the second, with Whirlaway and Citation.

Calumet Farm is also the record holder for most Derby (8) and Preakness (7) wins, while Belair Stud is tied with James R. Keene, with six victories at the Belmont.

Oldest and youngest Triple Crown-winning jockeys

Steve Cauthen, at 18, is the youngest jockey to win the Triple Crown, aboard Affirmed in 1978. Mike Smith became the oldest jockey (52) to ride a horse to the Triple Crown, with Justify in 2018.

Longest drought between Triple Crowns

American Pharoah famously ended a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell in 2015. Before then, there was a 25-year gap between Citation's 1948 win and Secretariat's triumph in 1973.

From 1930-to-1948, seven horses won the Triple Crown, with no more than five years between titles.

Horses who came up short of the Triple Crown

There have been 23 horses that won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but fell short in the Belmont. Those include Northern Dancer (1964), who ran the third fastest Derby time in history, Alysheba (1987), who finished fourth at Belmont, Silver Charm (1997), with a 3/4 length defeat in the Belmont, and I'll Have Another (2012), who was scratched from the Belmont the day before the race because of a tendon injury.

While he hasn't won a Triple Crown yet, trainer D. Wayne Lukas became the only major figure to win all three Triple Crown races with different horses, in 1995. Thunder Gulch took the Derby and Belmont, and Timber Country seized the Preakness.

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