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The thrilling race for the Triple Crown kicks off with the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. These races are some of the most exciting — and most-watched — sporting spectacles of the year. Superior Executive Services is proud to offer unforgettable luxury horse racing travel packages to these races and more.
Whether you’re cheering for the world’s finest thoroughbreds in person or at home, we wanted to get the party started with these 12 facts about Triple Crown races:
- There have only been 13 champs since 1875
- These are spring “jewels”
- Belmont Stakes is the longest
- There’s serious cash at stake
- The Kentucky Derby isn’t the oldest race
- It wasn’t always the Triple Crown
- There have been close calls
- The Triple Crown is a boy’s club
- Secretariat still holds a record
- Each race has a floral tradition
- Mint juleps used to be medicinal
- There’s no better way to see the Triple Crown than with Superior
Read on to learn more facts about Triple Crown races, and the horse racing travel packages we offer.
There have only been 13 Triple Crown champs since 1875
The Triple Crown is awarded to the three-year-old Thoroughbred that, in a single season, wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Since 1875, only 13 horses have achieved the elusive success of the Triple Crown, starting with Sir Barton in 1919 (although no one recognized the achievement at that time), and most recently, Justify in 2018. Justify was the first undefeated horse to achieve the Triple Crown since 1977.
These are spring “jewels”
The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes are run between early May and early June. There are dozens of other high-profile races throughout the year, but these three races are known as the jewels of the Triple Crown.
Belmont Stakes is the longest
The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the three races; at 1.5 miles, it’s sometimes called the “Test of the Champion.”
There’s serious cash at stake
A Triple Crown winner (or, rather, his owners) can stand to take home more than just a trophy. In 2019, the Kentucky Derby purse was raised to $3 million (to be split among the top finishers); the Preakness and Belmont Stakes offer total purses of $1.5 million.
The Kentucky Derby isn’t the oldest race
The Kentucky Derby is considered America’s most prestigious horse race, but both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes have been around longer. The first Belmont Stakes was held at Jerome Park in the Bronx in 1867. The first Preakness Stakes was run at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland in 1873. Two years later, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of famed explorer William Clark) founded Churchill Downs. Around 10,000 people attended the first Kentucky Derby in 1875.
It wasn’t always the Triple Crown
Although all three races began decades earlier, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the three races were widely known by the term Triple Crown.
There have been close calls
Between 1979 and 2014, another 13 horses nearly claimed the Triple Crown, winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but falling short at the Belmont Stakes.
The Triple Crown is a boy’s club
Only 11 fillies have won one Triple Crown race, and none have claimed the ultimate prize of winning all three in one season.
Secretariat still holds a record
In 1973, Secretariat — a Triple Crown winner who became a beloved national celebrity — won the Kentucky Derby with a time of 1:59 2/5, a record that still stands. Two weeks later, he won the Preakness. And finally, he won the Belmont Stakes by a shocking margin, setting another record time (2:24) and finishing ahead of the second-place finisher by 31 full lengths.
Each race has a floral tradition
A sports columnist bestowed the nickname “Run for the Roses” upon the Kentucky Derby in the 1920s, but the tradition dates back to 1884 when Clark began gifting the winning jockey a bouquet of roses. The winner of Belmont Stakes is given a blanket made of hundreds of white carnations. A blanket of black-eyed Susans covers the winner of the Preakness.
Mint juleps used to be medicinal
The mint julep was first concocted in the late 18th Century as a medicinal beverage. It has been a Derby tradition for nearly a century and was declared the race’s official drink in 1938. Explore this list of official Derby Cocktail Recipes, exclusively crafted by the Kentucky Derby.
There’s no better way to see the Triple Crown than with Superior
When you travel to the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, or the Belmont Stakes with Superior Executive Services, you can expect VIP treatment, luxury accommodations and private transportation, and access to exclusive festivities. Nothing compares to the drama of live horse racing and Superior delivers elite seating close to the action and to five-star hospitality.
Start planning your Triple Crown experience today. Call us at 608.665.9070 or contact us online.