Triple Crown Horse Races: What To Know

The Triple Crown is arguably the hardest horse racing prize to win. Even the best jockeys in a generation struggle to achieve the title of Triple Crown winner, and as the top horses for the belmont stakes gear up for an amazing display of talent, we can’t be sure that any will be added to the rare collection of winners.

What Is The Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown is a collection of 3 horse races – the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

In these races, only 3-year-old thoroughbred horses are allowed to compete. The three races have been around since the late 1800s. The Belmont Stakes in 1867, the Preakness Stakes in 1873, and the Kentucky Derby in 1875. However, it wasn’t until Johnny Loftus won all three races in 1919, that the term “Triple Crown” was invented. 

Since then, it has become not a career goal, but a legendary status goal to win the Triple Crown. Very few jockeys have accomplished the feat, and even less have done it twice.

How Many Jockeys Have Won The Triple Crown?

Since 1919, you can count the number of Triple Crown winners on two hands. Only one jockey has reached the achievement twice, and his name was Eddie Arcaro. Arcaro first brought the crown home in 1941 and achieved the outstanding feat again 7 years later in 1948. 

No one has managed to match this classic legend. And what makes his legacy even stronger, is that Arcaro has won each individual race at least 5 times. He won the Belmont Stakes 6 times, the Preakness Stakes 6 times, and the Kentucky Derby 5 times.

The other historical Triple Crown winners were as follows. Johnny Loftus – he was the first Triple crown winner in 1919. Earl Sande – he made the term “Triple Crown” popular, through his 1930 win. Willie Saunders who kept the winning feeling alive in 1935. Charles Kurtsinger who spent his years trying to beat Saunder, and succeeded in 1937. 

Next of course was Eddie Arcaro, the most impressive jockey in all of horse racing history. Between Arcaro’s two wins was Johnny Longden. He captured his Triple Crown in 1943. Shortly after followed Warren Mehrtens in 1946. 

It would be almost 30 years before the next Triple Crown winner appeared, and that stand-out jockey was Ron Turcotte. With the Crown back in play, Jean Curguet joined in the win in 1977. Steve Cauthen wasn’t far behind, winning his own crown in 1978. 

Again almost 30 years passed before the next win, as Victor Espinoza won the Triple Crown in 2015. And our final Triple Crown winner was Mike Smith in 2018.

So far 12 jockeys have won the Triple Crown in the 147 years since the first race had first begun. Although the likelihood of a Triple Crown win is always low, it is never far from anyone’s hopes.

Does 2022 Have A Shot At A Triple Crown Win?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. To win the Triple Crown, a jockey and their horse has to win all three races in one season. The Kentucky Derby race was on May the 7th and was won by Sonny Leon on Rich Strike.

At the time Leon and Strike were the underdogs, with odds of 80 to 1 of winning. When the day arrived, those odds changed to 30 to 1 matching 9 other jockeys as the most unlikely to win.

This means that Leon and Strike need to win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes to earn the Triple Crown title. 

However, Sonny Leon has been served a 4-day racing suspension for careless riding. Although the suspension shouldn’t interfere with the Crown races directly, Rich Strike is considered “at risk of injury” should he compete at the Preakness. 

The decision was to remove Rich Stake from the competition, which means that a Triple Crown win is not on the cards for 2022.

The Key Differences Between Each Race

Although the idea of winning the Triple Crown is legendary, don’t mistake the three races as a “Triple Crown or Nothing” tournament. Each race has its own history, skills required, and qualifying system.

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is considered a southerners charm. You are expected to wear respectable event clothing which should also include a hat. 

Up to 20 horses can compete in the races, but they have to qualify by earning enough points in the preparation races which lead up to the event.

The race itself only lasts for a mile and a quarter. It is famously known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”.

The Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is more of a rowdy crowd. The best way to describe it surrounds the use of the Rudbeckia Hirta flower. This beautiful black flower with yellow petals is more commonly known as the Black-Eyed Susan.

The winner of the Preakness Stakes will be given a Black-Eyes Susan wreath, and everyone drinks an alcoholic beverage of the same name.

The most difficult part of this race is its proximity to the Kentucky Derby. If you qualify for both, the jockey and rider have a short 2-week rest before having to compete again. Many riders skip the Preakness in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes

Nicknamed “the test of the champion”. The Belmont is considered a race of speed, grit, and stamina. Its main track is the longest in all of North America – constructed to be more like a highway, than a racecourse.


The only thing left for you to know is the race start times. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes have already been and gone. They started on the 7th of May and the 21st of May respectively.

The Belmont Stakes is the last race to start, and you can watch the riding unfold on the 11th of June.

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