The Triple Crown Horse
The Triple Crown of horse racing remains one of the most long-standing, storied traditions in American sports. The atmosphere, the bets, and the all-out sprint to the finish make for the most exciting minutes in sport, as people from all over the country flock to Kentucky, Maryland, and New York, hoping for a chance to see the next great horse sweep the crown. Whether looking to attend a race, or planning a trip to the area, here’s a brief guide to the events. Kentucky Derby: Perhaps the most famous of the three legs, Derby Day in Kentucky resembles a state-wide holiday. The day, marked by fine dresses, elegant hats, flower bouquets, and mint juleps a plenty, has a magnetic attraction for sport and spectacle fans. The race itself lasts only two minutes, hence the phrase, “The fastest two minutes in sports,” but follows a cavalcade of smaller events beforehand, allowing travelers to spend a day in the sun and excitement. The track record, at just shy of two minutes, rests with Secretariat, even forty years later, as no horse is yet to top the 1:59.4 minutes set in 1973. Preakness Stakes: The second leg of the Triple Crowne comes courtesy of Baltimore on Pimlico Race Course. While not as star-studded as the Kentucky Derby, the dirt track of the Preakness has spoiled many potential Triple Crown bidders. The track runs slightly shorter than the Derby at 1 3/16 miles as opposed to the 1 ¼ miles Kentucky classic. Wouldn’t you know, the track record at the Preakness remains under the care of Secretariat, the wonder horse who ran the Preakness in 1:53 minutes. Belmont Stakes: The final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, takes place in Elmont, New York on Long Island. The longest of the three tracks the Belmont extends over a mile and half, serving as the longest leg of the Triple Crown, and easily the most daunting. Many recent Triple Crown bidders have failed in the face of this endurance test, including California Chrome and Big Brown. It had been almost forty years from the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, until American Pharaoh broke through. The winning horse is adorned with carnations, hence the nickname, “The Run for the Carnations.” While many have come close, no horse is yet to beat the track record of 2:24 minutes, held once again by Secretariat. Perhaps a horse will one day challenge Secretariat for the title of fastest horse ever, but no challenger exists on the present horizon. Verdict: If you’re planning on visiting one or all of the Triple Crown races, make sure to check out our guides to Louisville, Baltimore, and New York City to plan a complete visit. Few sporting events hold more history and tradition than the Triple Crown events, yielding a magnetic attraction between travelers and spectacle.