Winning the Triple Crown™ is the grandest honor that any horse racing team could hope to accomplish. Jockey, Trainer, Owner and everyone in between sets out at the Kentucky Derby® for their first win, enters the Preakness Stakes with high hopes of a follow-up, and then aims to complete the immaculate treble at the Belmont Stakes. Winning the Triple Crown™ truly is a test of attrition!
At Derby Experiences we've finished our countdown of the 13 Triple Crown™ winners in history, but we also know that the story doesn't end there. While the Triple Crown™ conquest is the highlight in the career of any of its winners, it's important to look at what happened following the immaculate treble. With the future of latest winner Justify being told right in front of our very eyes, it provides a good chance to look at what happened to the 12 winners beyond their greatest accomplishment.
So in continuation of #TripleCrownTuesday, this two-part series will look life beyond the Triple Crown™! Make sure to check out Part One!
The 1940's was the decade with the most Triple Crown™ winners, and Assault added to the legacy of the period by being the third horse within the time period to complete the treble. Assault's career didn't show signs of stopping after the height of his career, though. He went on to win the Dwyer Stakes just two weeks after success at Belmont, but his performances that year started to diminish because of a kidney infection.
Assault kept racing as a four-year old and continued to dominate -- he won five of seven races and finished in the top three in both races that he didn't win.
After his four-year old season, Assault was supposed to retire and stud for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, he was found to be sterile and wound up racing until the age of seven.
Assault died on September 1, 1971.
After dominating the three legs of the Triple Crown, Citation finished out his three-year old season strongly. He finished the season winning 19 of 20 starts, propelling him into a strong financial status. In hopes that Citation would become the first million dollar horse, his owner Warren Wright wanted Citation to race until he hit the monetary stretch goal. Citation crossed the one million dollar mark in his six-year old season, which allowed him to finally retire.
Citation sired at Calumet Farm, producing Silver Spoon, Get Around and Fabius.
After breaking the first real Triple Crown drought in history in incredible fashion, Secretariat wrapped up his career fairly early. His breeding rights were sold in the middle of his three-year old season, so at the conclusion of that year he called it a career.
Secretariat had an interesting tenure at stud. He officially sired 663 foals, including 54 stakes winners. Oddly enough, most of his offspring were mares.
Secretariat was euthanized in 1989, and was discovered upon his autopsy to have a heart two-and-a-half the size of the average horse.
Seattle Slew, 1977
Going undefeated in the lead up and the entire way through the Triple Crown can wear down a horse. That's the case for Seattle Slew. After racing in one stakes following the treble victory, Seattle Slew took an almost year long break before returning in the back half of 1978. Seattle Slew raced seven times in 1978 before calling it a career at four-years old.
Seattle Slew went on to sire 1,103 foals, including 111 stakes winners. In 1984 he was named the leading sire in the nation.
He died on May 7, 2002.
The biggest race of Affirmed's career may not even be one of the legs of the Triple Crown. Rather, it may be the rare matchup between Triple Crown winners when Affirmed met Seattle Slew in the 1978 Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap. Settle Slew won the duel by three lengths.
The two met once again in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but to less fanfare. Due to a saddle slip, Affirmed finished unplaced for the first and only time in his career.
Affirmed went on to be the first racehorse to cross the two million dollar earnings mark.
He sired more than 80 stakes winners and nine champions at stud before being euthanized in 2001.
American Pharoah, 2015
After securing all three jewels of the Triple Crown, American Pharoah took a two month break before entering the Haskell Invitational. The colt claimed another first place finish, and followed up that victory with an entrance in the Travers Stakes in Saratoga just four weeks later. Pharoah's streak of eight-straight first place finishes was snapped in Saratoga, as he finished second.
American Pharoah became the first horse to complete the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing when he won the 2015 Breeders' Cup®.
Pharoah retired at the end of 2015 and is at stud currently.