The Triple Crown: Many try, few succeed

Later this week, the thoroughbred California Chrome will race in the Belmont Stakes, in the hopes of becoming just the 12th winner of the Triple Crown in the United States.  After three great horses won the prize in the 1970s (Secretariat [1973], Seattle Slew [1977], Affirmed [1978], 12 horses have come to Belmont with a chance; 11 failed. The 12th will run on June 7.

Why is this prize so hard to achieve? According to a 2012 article on the races from the Daily Racing Form, the Belmont is a drastically different horse race from its two predecessors – the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. It’s longer by a quarter mile (which doesn’t seem like a lot, but to a racing horse it is) than most races and so thoroughbreds aren’t bred or trained to run it. The racing style (a burst of speed from the final turn through to the finish) that will win the Derby or the Preakness can’t help a horse trying to maintain that speed for another quarter mile.

But sometimes a horse can surprise us. Will it be California Chrome, with his bad-luck four white socks (feet)? Or will we have to wait another year (or more) to watch a magnificent animal that makes us hold our breath for that mile-and-a-half (approximately 150 seconds) to victory?

Interested in learning more about thoroughbreds and the Triple Crown? Check out the books on this list.

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