2023 Kentucky Derby: How many horses have achieved Triple Crown status?

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Each year, an elite batch of horses battle for some of America’s most prestigious horse racing titles. Whether it be a Run for the Roses triumph, a Preakness Stakes victory or a Belmont Stakes success, it goes without saying that one trophy stands above them all — the Triple Crown trophy. This year, the road to the Triple Crown begins with the Kentucky Derby, Saturday May 6th on NBC and Peacock.

While a Triple Crown achievement is a rarity in American horse racing, there is a batch of horses throughout history who have attained the glorious title, forever to be remembered in history as a Triple Crown Champion.

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What is the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown of American horse racing is a title given to a three-year-old Thoroughbred that manages to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes all in the same season.

The Triple Crown was first popularized in America in the 1930s by journalist Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form. After the name picked up steam in the following decades, it was officially established as a title in December of 1950 at the annual awards dinner of the Thoroughbreds Racing Associations in New York.

Regardless of the date the name was dubbed, the Triple Crown achievement was still awarded to horses that had won prior to 1950.

RELATED: What is the meaning of the Kentucky Derby?

How many horses have won the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown title is well-known for its elusive nature, as only 13 horses have earned the title in American horse racing. See below for the full list of Triple Crown winners:

Sir Barton, 1919

  • Guy Bedwell (trainer), Johnny Loftus (jockey)

Gallant Fox, 1930

  • Jim Fitzsimmons (trainer), Earl Sande (jockey)

Omaha, 1935

  • Jim Fitzsimmons (trainer), Will “Smokey” Saunders (jockey)

War Admiral, 1937

  • George Conway (trainer), Charles Kurtsinger (jockey)

Whirlaway, 1941

  • Ben A. Jones (trainer), Eddie Arcaro (jockey)

Count Fleet, 1943

  • Don Cameron (trainer), Johnny Longden (jockey)

Assault, 1946

  • Max Hirsch (trainer), Warren Mehrtens (jockey)

Citation, 1948

  • Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones (trainer), Eddie Arcaro (jockey)

Secretariat, 1973

  • Lucien Laurin (trainer), Ron Turcotte (jockey)

Seattle Slew, 1977

  • William H. Turner Jr. (trainer), Jean Cruguet (jockey)

Affirmed, 1978

  • Laz Barrera (trainer), Steve Cauthen (jockey)

American Pharoah, 2015

  • Bob Baffert (trainer), Victor Espinoza (jockey)

Justify, 2018

  • Bob Baffert (trainer), Mike Smith (jockey)

RELATED: Which Triple Crown winner was the fastest?

Who won the first Triple Crown?

While the term Triple Crown was not coined until 1950, Sir Barton was the first horse to record a win in all three races in 1919.

Remembered as an unfriendly colt with a dislike for most humans, Sir Barton was just as aggressive on the track as he was off. After losing all six of his starts as a two-year-old, however, hopes were not high for the chestnut thoroughbred at the Run for the Roses.

Sir Barton was supposed to act as a rabbit for his favored stablemate Billy Kelly in the 1919 Kentucky Derby. Sir Barton, however, had no intention of slowing down and giving away the win, as he led the field from start to finish and took the Run for the Roses by five lengths.

Just four days after, he took home the crown at the Preakness at Pimlico before cementing his legacy at the Belmont Stakes, setting the American record for the fastest mile and three-eighths race, notching a 2:17.25.

Has any trainer won the Triple Crown more than once?

In the extensive history of American horse racing, just two trainers have directed a horse to a Triple Crown title more than one time.

The first of these is James E. “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who trained both Gallant Fox and Omaha for the Belair Stud. Fitzsimmons, a native of Sheepshead Bay, New York, began his career in 1885 at a racetrack as a stable boy. After ten years as a jockey, Fitzsimmons then shifted to the profession of horse trainer, one that would show him much success. Throughout his career, “Sunny Jim” trained three Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners and six Belmont stakes winners.

The only trainer to achieve the feat of multiple Triple Crowns since Fitzsimmons is Bob Baffert, who trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify. The Arizona native’s career in horseracing began at the young age of 10, when he practiced racing his father’s Quarter Horses on a racetrack.

RELATED: Relive each leg of Justify’s Triple Crown win

After working as a jockey in informal Quarter Horse races in his teens, Baffert advanced to racing on recognized tracks, taking home his first victory when he was 17. Horses trained under Baffert have achieved a record six Kentucky Derby wins, seven Preakness Stakes wins and three Belmont Stakes wins.

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Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.