For the first time in history, the Belmont Stakes ran as the first race in the Triple Crown. The order for 2020 is Belmont Stakes first, Kentucky Derby second and Preakness Stakes last. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Triple Crown 2020 schedule was turned upside down, with the Kentucky Derby moving from May 2 to September 5, the Preakness Stakes shifting from May 16 to October 3 and the Belmont Stakes shifting from June 6 to June 20.
Not only is this the first time the Triple Crown will run in this order, but the turnaround time between each race is also significantly different. Usually, the Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes comes two weeks after that and the Belmont Stakes closes out the series three weeks after that. Because the training and prep of racehorses around the world has been disrupted because of the pandemic, the Belmont Stakes, typically the longest of the three races, was shortened from 1 1/2-miles (12 furlongs) to 1 1/8-miles (9 furlongs).
Tiz the Law easily handled a small Belmont Stakes field. He entered the Kentucky Derby as the overwhelming favorite after adding a Travers Stakes win to his resume, but Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Authentic outlasted a furious stretch duel with Tiz the Law to win the 146th Derby.
Authentic returns to the Triple Crown scene in the Preakness on Oct. 3 (NBC, 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET) but Tiz the Law’s camp is saving him for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Art Collector, a promising Kentucky Derby campaigner who was scratched with a minor injury several days before the Derby, could prove to be Authentic’s biggest competition, and powerhouse filly Swiss Skydiver becomes the first filly to run in the Preakness since 2014.
Who was the last Triple Crown winner?
The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify, trained by Baffert and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, in 2018. His win came just three years after Baffert’s American Pharoah won the Triple Crown.
Triple Crown 2020 order:
- Belmont Stakes (moved from June 6 to June 20, traditionally last). Winner: Tiz the Law
- Kentucky Derby (moved from May 2 to September 5, traditionally first). Winner: Authentic
- Preakness Stakes (moved from May 16 to October 3, traditionally second)
Past 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)
- Justify (2018)
Watch the 2020 Preakness Stakes on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Post time is set for approximately 5:40 p.m. ET.