Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Jonny Garcia gallops I'll Have Another, Monday, June 4, 2012 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner goes for horse racings Triple Crown Saturday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Horse racing: Luck, breeding, distance make Triple try tough
First Published Jun 07 2012 06:54 pm • Last Updated Jun 08 2012 12:41 pm

New York • The Triple Crown.

Three races in a five-week span at varying distances on different tracks. So tough only 11 horses have won it, none in 34 years, by far the longest gap ever.

At a glance

Belmont odds

The field for Saturday’s 144th Belmont Stakes, with post position, horse’s name, jockey’s name and odds:

1. Street Life J. Lezcano 12-1

2. Unstoppable U J. Alvarado 30-1

3. Union Rags J. Velazquez 6-1

4. Atigun J. Leparoux 30-1

5. Dullahan J. Castellano 5-1

6. Ravelo’s Boy A. Solis 50-1

7. Five Sixteen R. Napravnik 50-1

8. Guyana Star Dweej K. Desormeaux 50-1

9. Paynter M. Smith 8-1

10. Optimizer C. Nakatani 20-1

11. I’ll Have Another M. Gutierrez 4-5

12. My Adonis R. Dominguez 20-1

Belmont Stakes

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. post time, TV » Ch. 5

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Now it’s your turn to try, I’ll Have Another, on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.

"You need the racing luck," suggests Bob Baffert, the only trainer to lose the Belmont three times with horses that won the first two legs.

It’s tougher these days because of changes in breeding, full fields of 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby, more foals and an increased emphasis by owners and trainers on the sport’s three biggest races.

I’ll Have Another, an average-sized chestnut colt, appears to have rebounded well after two hard races in the Derby and Preakness, with the most exhausting still to come. He’ll run 1 1-2 miles around Belmont’s oval with 11 rivals gunning to keep history from happening.

Before Affirmed swept the 1978 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, 25 years had passed between Citation in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973.

Ask trainers and jockeys what makes winning the Triple Crown so difficult, and no one can agree on a single factor.

Real Quiet had no luck in 1998, when a nose separated him from racing immortality. The year before, Baffert watched from the stands as Silver Charm lost by three-quarters of a length. In 2002, War Emblem nearly fell to his knees when the starting gate sprang open, and Baffert knew right then the colt was doomed. He straggled home in eighth place, beaten 19 1-2 lengths by a 70-1 shot.

"Everybody is trying to take their little shot at you," Baffert said.

story continues below
story continues below

When Sir Barton became the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1919, the phrase Triple Crown hadn’t been invented. And he wasn’t even the most popular horse of his era; that mantle belonged to Man o’ War, who won nine of his 10 starts as a 2-year-old but didn’t run in the Derby the next year.

Sir Barton had just two opponents in the Belmont, which was then run at 1 3-8 miles. His winning time of 2:17 2-5 was an American record.

After him, the Triple Crown was won in bunches.

Three horses accomplished the feat in the 1930s, four did it in the ‘40s, and three more pulled it off in the ‘70s. The current 34-year drought began after Affirmed outdueled Alydar to sweep the series in 1978.

In 1930, Gallant Fox won the Preakness, which was run a mere eight days before the Kentucky Derby. The bay colt easily won the Derby, but wasn’t the favorite in the Belmont. Even so, he led wire to wire, and by then, the Triple Crown moniker was attached to the three races.

The Belmont took a toll on War Admiral in 1937.

A son of Man o’ War, he won by three lengths but not without theatrics. He acted up at the start and repeatedly crashed through the gate, delaying the race for almost nine minutes. Then he stumbled at the start and sliced off a piece of his right front heel, leaving behind a trail of blood. He came up lame, but returned to racing that fall.

In 1943, Count Fleet had just two opponents in the Belmont, and he crushed them both. He won by 25 lengths, a record that stood until Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973.

Breeding has changed over the years, with speed replacing stamina as the top priority.

"Back in the ‘70s we were still breeding horses to race them and so much of the industry now is concentrated on sales," said Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat. "And so you breed a precocious, good-looking, early speed horse who isn’t equipped to go a mile and a half, or to run three hard races in five weeks."

Another reason a Triple is so difficult is the greater emphasis on the series. Owners know that a winner of any of the race, much less all three, can command huge prices in the breeding shed, while trainers can burnish their credentials with multiple wins.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.