A Triple Crown™, the honor of a lifetime, is what every horse racing team strives for. Jockey, Trainer, Owner and everyone in between sets out at the Kentucky Derby® for their first win, enters the Preakness Stakes with high hopes, and then aims to complete the trifecta at the Belmont Stakes. What many don’t realize is how rare it is for a horse to mark his name in history as a Triple Crown™ winner. (So difficult that only 12 horses have claimed victory from 1919 – 2015.)
Derby Experiences is here to breakdown each victory, pedigree and team of the 12 Triple Crown™ winners in a 12-part series occurring the last Tuesday of each month. Starting with Sir Barton in 1919 and ending in American Pharoah in 2015, saddle-up, because here we go. This week’s Triple Crown™ winner is War Admiral who claimed victory in 1937.
War Admiral – The Exception
Samuel Riddle, owner of War Admiral, had a history of not entering his horses in the Kentucky Derby®. He did not like to race outside of New York and felt the distance to Churchill Downs® was too great for a three-year-old so early in the season. In 1937, Riddle took a chance with War Admiral and took the trip West to Churchill Downs®.
Going in to the race, War Admiral was the favorite and despite his slow start, won in a wire-to-wire fashion with Pompoon 1 ¾ lengths behind him, meaning he led the race the entire time. Neville Dunn, the sports editor for the Lexington Herald reported, “…and he won so easily, so effortlessly, that 65,000 fans nudged one another and said, “I told you so! I told you War Admiral could run like Man o’ War.”” Man o’ War was War Admiral’s father and while his size took after his mother he ran like his father.
A week later War Admiral attended The Preakness Stakes, once again off to a slow start he still took the lead early but had problems getting around the turns. Pompoon and War Admiral dueled it out all the way to the final stretch, where War Admiral stole the lead and finished in first.
On June 5th, War Admiral headed to the final leg of the Triple Crown™, The Belmont Stakes, going in as 4-5 favorite. Just like clockwork he had trouble at the start, delaying the race eight times as he broke through the barriers and refused to cooperate. Stumbling through the gate, War Admiral quickly recovered his stride and won the race by three lengths, setting a new track record and naming him the fourth winner of the Triple Crown™!
A Bittersweet Victory
After winning the final leg of the Triple Crown™, he entered the winner’s circle where his trainer and jockey noticed his belly and legs were covered in blood. War Admiral had struck the quarter of his right front hoof when he stumbled out of the gate. He missed the summer racing season, but came back in full force to win his next three races and was awarded Horse of the Year in 1937.
Secure Your Spot for the First Leg of the Triple Crown™
Be there to witness as the 3-year-old thoroughbreds start their journey towards the Triple Crown™ at the 2018 Kentucky Derby®. As the Official Partner of Churchill Downs®, Derby Experiences provides an unmatched experience for every guest during the Kentucky Derby® weekend. With vast seating selections and hospitality venues, accommodation options located throughout Louisville and exclusive party access, start your upcoming to Kentucky this May with Derby Experiences.