AMERICA’S biggest racing event, the Triple Crown, is, as its name suggests, three massive races across a period of about six weeks, give or take, where the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the country go head to head for glory.
It all starts on the first Saturday in May with the famed Kentucky Derby, continues on the third Saturday with the Preakness and culminates in June with the Belmont Stakes.
All three races are limited to three year old horses as they reach the cusp of maturity.
The first Triple Crown could have been fought for in 1875, when the Kentucky Derby was first run, joining the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Despite Sir Barton becoming the first horse in history to win all three races in 1919, the term Triple Crown was not coined until 1930 when Gallant Fox claimed the hat trick, turf writer Charles Hatton using the phrase to describe the three year old’s achievement.
The three races are America’s biggest betting splurge on the horses each year and more and more international interest is growing each year.
Here is our helpful guide to the Triple Crown, its races and how you get a bet on.
How do I bet on the Triple Crown and its races?
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The Kentucky Derby
The youngest of the three races, the Kentucky Derby was first held in 1875 and is run over the 1 1⁄4 mile (2 km) dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Always Dreaming won the race in 2017, while Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are the most successful jockeys in the race, with five wins each. Legendary trainer Ben Jones owns the record for most wins with six.
First raced two years before the Kentucky Derby in 1873 horses must cover a distance of 1 3⁄16 miles (1.9 km) on a dirt track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, to win The Preakness. The famed Arcaro also has his stamp on this race, winning it six times between 1941 and 1957, while R. Wyndham Walton – who trained the third ever winner of the race – owns the record of seven, although Bob Baffert, the trainer of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, is one off with six. Cloud Computing claimed the latest incarnation of the race.
The Belmont Stakes
The oldest of the Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes, is also the longest, run and won over the 1 1⁄2 mile (2.4 km) dirt track at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Tapwrit stormed to victory in 2017 and, while James G. Rowe Sr has trained eight winners, Woody Stephens ruled the race from 1982 to 1986 when his horses won five straight Belmont Stakes. We will give you two guesses which jockey has the most wins – yep, Eddie Arcaro – with six, giving him a remarkable 17 wins across the three Triple Crown races. He’s joined by Jim McLaughlin on six.
Typical betting markets on the Triple Crown and its races
You will find there are markets available on a horse to win the Triple Crown for most of the year, with those broken down to the individual races as well.
Bet markets on the Triple Crown
Will there be a Triple Crown Winner?
Some bookies will provide odds on whether or not any horse can win the Triple Crown each year. It is a simple yes or no question, which you have to answer, with your money behind it. It’s only happened 12 times in 142 years, though, so be wary if you are thinking about answering yes.
Which horse will win the Triple Crown?
Instead of backing any horse to win the Triple Crown, you can choose one. Pick your favourite horse and have a flutter. Anything can happen. Will generally have much better odds than a bet on any horse to win the Triple Crown.
Markets you will find on each race
Whether it is the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, there is plenty of betting action available on each. Here are some of the typical markets you might find:
Win bets – Pretty self explanatory really – which horse do you think will win the race?
Here, the horse you back does not have to win the race – provided it comes first, second or third, you still win – at reduced odds, of course.
Each way bets – Bet on your horse to both win and place. If it wins, you get a dividend from both the win and the place. If it comes second or third, you lose the win wager, but get the place bet as a bit of insurance.
Exacta bets – Here you need to predict the top two horses in the race. So first and second. They have to be in order, too, so, if you think there is a couple of options, make sure you box them up so that they are picked for both first and second.
Trifecta bets – See the exacta and raise you third place. This is where you need to pick the top three horses in the race. Sounds impossible right? Well, wait until you see the superfecta.
Superfecta bets – Pick the top four finishers in the race. This bet is like finding a needle in a haystack – if that needle was gold plated and worth thousands of dollars. These bets provide little chance, but a massive payout if you strike gold.
How many horses have claimed the Triple Crown?
Only twelve horses have won the Triple Crown, with the most recent, American Pharoah, resonating across the US and bringing a new interest in the sport of racing. It was the first time since Affirmed won it in 1978 – a massive gap of 37 years, the longest in the Triple Crown’s history. Legendary jockey Arcaro claimed the Triple Crown twice, on Whirlaway in 1941 and on Citation in 1948. He is the only jockey with multiple wins.
List of Triple Crown winners:
Sir Barton (1919)
Gallant Fox (1930)
War Admiral (1937)
Count Fleet (1943)
Seattle Slew (1977)
American Pharoah (2015)