The Triple Crown races in the United States finally get underway with the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of May. However, all racing fans are already asking the question as to whether a contender this year can join the legendary company and win all three Triple Crown races and be immortalized forever.
It’s always the goal for connections of the leading contenders to achieve that target, but very few in history have managed to achieve the feat given its difficulty.
Horses To Have Won The Triple Crown
To date, only 13 horses have managed to win the Triple Crown. The feat was prominent throughout the 1930s and 40s, which came after Sir Barton was the first to win all three races in 1919. Horses to have achieved the feat in the 30s included Omaha, War Admiral, and Gallant Fox, before Assault, Count Fleet, and Citation joined the growing number in the 40s. Between 1948 and 1974, only one further horse would win the Triple Crown, with that honor falling on the hooves of the legendary Secretariat.
Seattle Slew and Affirmed would also achieve the feat in the late 70s. However, Triple Crown winners since 1980 have been very rare, with only two horses having achieved the feat.
The legendary American Pharoah was the first to win the Triple Crown, as he won the title in 2015, before adding Breeders’ Cup Classic glory to his roll of honor. The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify, but his success in 2018 was among the most controversial as he failed a drug test before running in the Kentucky Derby.
Could It Be Achieved This Year?
History would suggest that winning the Triple Crown is no easy feat, and it has only been made harder over the previous years given the talent of the equine stars that have been lining up in the race. It has also been made harder given that 20 horses can now line up in the Kentucky Derby, making it a more grueling test before the Preakness Stakes and ultimately the Belmont Stakes.
The Kentucky Derby is already in less than a week (May 7th) and the current odds or live odds for the Preakness Stakes that follows (May 21st) will probably change with the outcoming of the big race.
However, that doesn’t mean that connections won’t attempt to win all three races. Success in the Kentucky Derby will see owners and trainers beginning to dream that they can add their equine star to the legends of yesteryear, which means the first stop for any potential winner is a strong showing at Churchill Downs. Following that, they will be examined to see if there are any lingering issues before a final decision is made on whether to travel to Pimlico.
Which Horses Could Be Front Runners?
There is understandably excitement surrounding this year’s crop of three-year-olds, as a number of them have excellent chances of winning the Kentucky Derby and putting themselves in the frame to win the Triple Crown. One of the most exciting in the field this year is Taiba. The contender is looking to join Justify and Apollo as the only horses to win the Churchill Downs race without lining up as a two-year-old. Comparisons with Justify are glaringly obvious, with Mike Smith also taking the ride of Taiba, while this year’s contender also won the Santa Anita Derby on his step up into graded company.
However, the most realistic contender could be the current market leader for the Derby, as Epicenter has already beaten a number of his re-opposing rivals. Since finishing second in the G3 Lecomte, the three-year-old trained by Steven Asmussen hasn’t put a foot wrong. Back-to-back wins in graded company have followed, which includes his standout win in the G2 Louisiana Derby on his final start before heading to Churchill Downs. Out of all the three-year-olds in the US, Epicenter and Taiba look to be the main Triple Crown contenders for 2022.