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™!
Sir Barton, 1919
The first ever Triple Crown™ winner wasn't even recognized for his accomplishment until 29 years after the feat, meaning that the pressures of "what's next" never really resonated. After achieving the first treble, Sir Barton competed as a four-year-old in 1920, winning five of the 12 races that he entered. Even at his age, Sir Barton was able to set a world record for 1 3/16 miles on dirt, when he claimed victory in the Merchants and Citizens Handicap race on August 28, 1920.
There were plans for Sir Barton to race as a five-year-old, but fear of wear and tear forced the horse to hang up his hooves in 1921. Sir Barton worked as a stud for 13 years before becoming a part of the U.S. Army Remount Service in Virginia and Nebraska.
Sir Barton died on October 30, 1937 from colic.
Gallant Fox, 1930
After completing the trio of races to complete the Triple Crown™, Gallant Fox raced six more times in the calendar year, winning five times. While dominating the 1930 season as a whole, Gallant Fox retired to stud after the year and started on a 22-year breeding career. He sired 20 stakes winner, most importantly the 1935 Triple Crown™ winner, Omaha. This made Gallant Fox the first Triple Crown™ winner to sire another treble champion.
Gallant Fox died on November 13, 1954.
Omaha kept racing for over a year after completing the Triple Crown™. The horse sired by Gallant Fox raced seven more times after winning the third leg at the Belmont Stakes, claiming victory in four of the trots. Omaha is the first Triple Crown™ winner to take his talents to England, winning the 1936 Victor Wild Stakes.
He retired to stud in 1943, siring seven stakes winner before dying in 1959. While one of the most prolific racers in history, Omaha tenure as a sire was considered a failure.
War Admiral, 1937
Winning the Triple Crown™ as a three-year-old didn't slow War Admiral down one bit. He continued racing into the early part of 1939, winning eight major races as a four-year-old. This is all after War Admiral suffered a serious injury in the summer of 1937, but it wasn't enough to halt the momentum of the newly minted Triple Crown™ winner.
War Admiral was an incredibly successful stud, siring 40 stakes winners. He was the leading American sire in 1945 and the leading juvenile sire in 1948. Sadly, War Admiral's sire line couldn't persist and is gone.
He died on October 30, 1959.
Whirlaway is the only horse in history to win the Triple Crown™ and the Travers Stakes. The horse became a cause for the greater good in 1942, racing to raise funds for war bonds. Whirlaway accumulated $5 million for the war bond effort in total -- quite a sum.
He retired to sire as a five-year-old and did that until dying of a heart attack in 1953.
Count Fleet, 1943
Nobody knew it at the time, but Count Fleet's Triple Crown™ victory at the Belmont Stakes was the last race of the steed's career. Early on in the race, Count Fleet injured his left fore ankle but was able to carry on. After developing another injury in his right leg, Count Fleet's three-year-old campaign was virtually over -- as was his racing career. After a year long sabbatical, Count Fleet retired to stud. He sired 38 stakes winner, most notably Kentucky Derby® winner Count Turf.
Count Fleet died on December 3, 1973.
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