Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The first Triple Crown title holder was Sir Barton, who won all three races in 1919. Since then, only 12 other horses have accomplished this feat. The most recent one was Justify, who earned the Triple Crown title in 2018.

The three races

triple crownKentucky Derby

Also known as: The Run for the Roses

Inaugurated: 1875

Normally held on: The first Saturday in May

Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Current track: Churchill Downs

Track type: Dirt

Distance: 11⁄4 miles (10 furlongs) since 1897. Prior to 1897, the distance was 1 ½ mile.

Number of horses: Since 1975, the field has been limited to 20 horses.

Weights: Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds,  fillies carry 121 pounds

Trophy: The  Kentucky Derby Trophy

Preakness Stakes

Also known as: The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans

Inaugurated: 1873

Normally held on: The third Saturday in May

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Current track: Pimlico Race Course

Track type: Dirt

Distance: 13⁄16 miles (9.5 furlongs)

Number of horses: The field is limited to 14 horses.

Weights: Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds,  fillies carry 121 pounds

Trophy: The  Woodlawn Vase

Belmont Stakes

Also known as: The Test of the Champion

Inaugurated: 1867

Normally held on: The third Saturday following the Preakness (i.e. first or second Saturday in June)

Location: Elmont, New York, USA

Current track: Belmont Park

Track type: Dirt

Distance: 11⁄2 miles (12 furlongs) since 1926. Prior to 1926, the distance varied from 15⁄8 to 11⁄8 miles.

Weights: Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds,  fillies carry 121 pounds

Trophy: The  August Belmont Trophy

Number of horses: The field is limited to 16 horses.

The Triple Crown Trophy

triple crown throphyEven though all the races date back to the 19th century, the Tiple Crown Trophy wasn´t commissioned until 1950. (But it was then awarded to all previous winners, retroactively.)

The term Triple Crown had been applied in the context of these specific three races by some journalists as early as 1923, but the idea of them constituting a Triple Crown wasn´t cemented until Gallant Fox won all three events in the year 1930.


So far, only thirteen horses have become Triple Crown winners: 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 Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).

The amazingly fast Secretariat

Secretariat – winner of the Triple Crown in 1973 – holds the record time for each of the three races. Also, his time of 2:24 for ​1

1⁄2 miles in the 1973 Belmont Stakes was a new world record for that distance, and this record still stands.

Betting on triple crown races

It is very easy to find a sportsbook that allows you to bet on the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  These races are very popular among punters and almost all sportsbooks offer odds on these races.  Click the link to compare the best gambling websites in the US and UK.

The Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes are particularly popular among bettors in the US, UK, Australia, Asia and Sweden.  Any horse that has the chance to win the triple crown is usually heavily played in the final race. It is therefore seldom worth it to place money on a potential triple crown winner.  The odds are too low.

Notable trainers

The first trainer to win the Triple Crown more than once was James E. Fitzsimmons, commonly known as “Sunny Jim”. He trained the 1930 title holder Gallant Fox and the 1935 title holder Omaha. In both instances, he worked for the horse racing stable and breeding farm Belair Stud. Notably, Gallant Fox is the father of Omaha, and they are still the only father-son pair to both be Triple Crown holders.

It would take until the next century before anyone could repeat Fitzsimmons´s feat. The second trainer to win two Triple Crowns was Bob Baffer, who trained American Pharaoh (2015 title holder) and Justify (2018).

Notable jockeys

The only jockey to win more than one Triple Crown is Eddie Arcaro who rode 1941 title holder Whirlaway and 1948 title holder Citation.

Notable owners

Only two owners have won more than one Triple Crown: Belair Stud and Calumet Farm. Belair won with Gallant Fox and Omaha, while Calumet Farm was the owner of Whirlaway and Citation.