The Triple Crown, in American Horse Racing, is a championship that can only be won by a 3-year-old thoroughbred that in a single season wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Only 13 horses have ever completed the feat, with a history that dates back to 1875. The first race in the 2021 Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on the first weekend in May.
Why is the Triple Crown so famous?
For over a century, this championship has been considered one of the most desired and famous achievements in all of US sports. Even though horse racing betting has declined in recent years as other sports like esports betting have become more popular, the Triple Crown still attracts billions of dollars of betting revenue for online bookmakers around the world. Among the horse racing community the U.S. Triple Crown is still one of the best achievements to land, and those that get are immediately granted access to the Hall of Fame, given its incredible difficulty.
The history of the Triple Crown
The early efforts to unify the races along the lines of the British Triple Crown started after the American Civil War. In 1875, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the founder of Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby), started promoting a Triple Crown that would be centered around his own Derby.
At the start of the 20th century, numerous race organizers in New York focused on three contests that took place in that state. This effort would later fail due to provincialism among all the racing entities, each one insisting that its events were far more important than those in New York. This struggle went on until the socialites of the Eastern states, who mainly controlled the sport, would allow their horses to compete at Churchill Downs. Likewise, this stubborn attitude was encouraged by the belief that the Derby was raced too early in the year. Trainers believed that it didn’t give enough time for young 3-year-old horses to fully mature.
As the years went by, the concept of an American Triple Crown was popularized by the writings of Charles Hatton, a columnist for the Daily Racing Form. He frequently used the term “triple crown” to refer to the three races in the 1930s. As the term caught on, more owners, trainers, and fans began to pay attention specifically to these races. By the 1940s, everyone was routinely using this term. The Triple Crown title was formally proclaimed in December 1950 at the annual awards dinner of the Thoroughbred Racing Association in New York and retroactively awarded to Sir Barton, who was the first horse to win all three races in 1919. Since then, horses who won the title before 1950 were also retroactively recognized.
Gallant Fox won the title in 1930 and 18 years later, Citation in 1948. This period had an average of one Triple Crown winner every two and a half years. However, since 1948, no horses won the title for 25 years until Secretariat captured the championship in 1973. Later on, Seattle Slew won in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. Since 1978, no one won the title until American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown in 2015. Then Justify won the title in 2018, making it only the second horse to land the title so far this century.
A mixed bag for bookies in the 2020 Triple Crown
The 2020 Triple Crown schedule was completely changed from its normal routine. For example, Preakness ran 20 weeks after its original date, the Kentucky Derby was moved from May to September and the Belmont moved back two weeks but remained in June.
No horse won the Triple Crown in 2020. Tiz The Law won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first New York-bred horse to win the race since Forester in 1882. Usually, Belmont is the last event in the Triple Crown, but in 2020 was the first.
Authentic won The Kentucky Derby, one of the most famous races in the world. Authentic managed to hold off bookie’s favorite Tiz the Law, who ran off at -167 (3/5, 1.6) to frustrate millions of horse racing bets and end Tiz The Law’s Triple Crown hopes. This was the 200th Grade I stake victory for Authentic’s jockey John Velazquez and his third Kentucky Derby win. He is trained by Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert, who won his sixth Kentucky Derby to tie Ben Jones’s all time record.
Swiss Skydiver (trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Robby Albarado) won Preakness, becoming only the sixth filly to win the race. She was also the first filly to run in the Preakness since Ria Antonia in 2014, who managed to finish last. The last filly to win the race was Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra back in 2009.
This year’s Triple Crown will always be remembered due to a different race order, later dates for all three races (which gave horses more time to prepare and mature), and even more time in between each event. Also, 2020 had a shortened Belmont with 9 furlongs instead of the traditional 12.
Horses to watch out for in 2021
After Authentic won the Breeder’s Cup world championship, the U.S. horse racing season of 2020 drew to a close. No Triple Crown winner emerged this year but the Breeder’s Cup excitement more than made up for that. Authentic has earned his retirement as a stud, commanding $75,000 per stud fee. U.S. Horse Racing betting enthusiasts will no doubt keep an eye on Auhtentic’s progeny.
Also, there are several high performing horses eager to make history in the upcoming 2021 season. For the upcoming season, don’t lose sight of favorites like Tiz the Law, Swiss Skydive, Gamine and Improbable. Also, keep tracks on a couple of 2-year-olds who showed plenty of promise this year like Essential Quality, who came 1st in the Juvenile Breeder’s Cup on 5th November and is already lining up as the favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Bet365 line Essential Quality up as a 12/1 ante post favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, while William Hill offer slightly less at 10/1 as of 10 November, 2020.
The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile is worth 20 points on the Road To Kentucky, while other major Prep Races include the Hyacinth at Tokyo Racecourse (30 points) and the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park (50 points) before the major derbies of the spring with 100 points each, which include the Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby and UAE Derby, which take place on consecutive weekends in March.