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2018 Triple Crown Schedule
2018 Triple Crown Contenders
While all three races that comprise the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing have been run since the late 1800s, the current order of the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness Stakes, followed by the Belmont Stakes, has been in place since 1931.
Sir Barton was the first horse to capture all three races in 1919, but the term Triple Crown to describe the feat was first referred to in the mid-1920s, and then became common use following the win by Gallant Fox in 1930, with credit going to longtime Daily Racing Form writer Charles Hatton. It's interesting to note that while the idea of declaring a Triple Crown champion had been around for decades, it was actually not until 1987 that the organizers of the three races began promoting the series as a singular event.
In almost a century since Sir Barton's win, only 11 other horses have managed to win all three events, with the 37 years between wins by Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015) the longest stretch without a winner in history.
2018 Triple Crown Nominations
Owners who wish to have one or more of their horses eligible to run in the Triple Crown series typically nominate the horse to do so months before the event takes place. The first deadline for nomination is in late January, and requires a nomination fee of $600. The second deadline for nomination is in mid-March, when the fee jumps to $6000. Very occassionally a horse that was not nominated by the second deadline qualifies for the field, and if the owner wants to run, they will need to pay a "supplemental" nomination fee of $200,000.
It's not uncommon to have several hundred horses nominated to run the Kentucky Derby by the first deadline, although the field is limited to 20 starters. The owner of a horse that actually makes the field must then pay $25,000 on May 1st to enter, and an additional $25,000 to start.
Prior to 2012, the 20 horses were chosen for the Derby based on their earnings over the previous year in graded-stakes races. Since 2012, horses are required to run in one or more of a series of designated races that award points to the top four finishers in each race. As of 2018, one spot is reserved for horses that run in qualifying races in Japan, and one spot is reserved for horses that run in qualifying races in the UK. If the owners of those horses chose not to run in the Derby, those spots go to the 19th and 20th qualifying horses based in North America.
2018 Triple Crown Race Dates
Also known as "The Run for the Roses" or "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports", the Kentucky Derby is the United States' most prestigious horse race. Kicking off the Triple Crown series, it's where the dream of capturing the Triple Crown begins for the winner, the owner, the trainer and the jockey, and ends for everyone else, as only the Derby winner has a chance to claim the Triple Crown.
The Derby is run at the "Classic" distance of 1 1/4 miles on the dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and as of 2018 will offer a total purse of $2 million. First run in 1875, it's the only one of the three Triple Crown races to be run every year since its inception.
Also known as "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans", the Preakness Stakes almost always includes the winner of the Kentucky Derby, plus a handful of other horses coming out of that race, and very often a few others that did not have enough qualifying points to make the Derby field.
Held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, the Preakness was first run in 1873. The Preakness has been run at seven different distances over the years, with the current distance of 1 3/16 miles on the dirt the standard since 1925. For 2018, the Preakness offers a purse of $1.5 million.
Due to the fact it is run over a distance of 1 1/2 miles on the dirt course at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, the Belmont is regarded as the most difficult of the three Triple Crown races to win, and is also known as "The Test of The Champion." When the chance at a Triple Crown title is on the line, the Belmont is arguably regarded as the most important race of the thoroughbred season in North America.
The race almost always includes the winner or winners of the previous two Triple Crown races, horses that have run in one of the previous races but skipped the other, and several so-called "new shooters" who have been racing in other events, and specifically training for the Belmont. Over the years, 23 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but either lost the Belmont or did not run due to injury. For 2018, the Belmont offers a total purse of $1.5 million.
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