By Ryan Hack
Horse racing is not the most popular sport in the world, but the Triple Crown races in the Spring are competitions most people tune into. The first of these races is the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness, and then lastly, the Belmont Stakes. Each race gets progressively longer, and if one horse wins all three, they are awarded the Triple Crown. This is very rare, as it has only happened twelve times since 1919, the last being American Pharoah in 2015.
Before the races, all the horses have very different childhoods. Some of the horses in these races are not necessarily brought up by the owner. Many of the horses are bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and given to a jockey and trainer, where they are brought up and prepared for the race. According to Senior, Anna Turvin, “all the horses learn to accept a rider, [even when they do not know them]”. These riders end up taking these horses to big events, and some walk away with millions of dollars.
On May 6, 2017, the annual Kentucky Derby race occurred at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The favorite in the race was Always Dreaming, led by jockey, John Velazquez, who is not a newcomer to horse racing. Now in his career, he has had four Triple Crown race wins, including two Kentucky Derby wins and two Belmont wins, and has collected over three million dollars in winnings. Even through the muddy tracks in Kentucky, Velazquez and Always Dreaming started off strong, and ended strong. In the most exciting two minutes in sports, Always Dreaming won the race with a final time of two minutes, and 3.59 seconds. The race resulted in a 1.2 million dollar prize for jockey Velazquez, trainer Todd Pletcher, and owner Maryellen Bonomo.
Following the exciting Kentucky Derby, the Preakness took place on May 20, 2016 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. As Always Dreaming was trying to be the next Triple Crown winner, his dreams were crushed by Cloud Computing. Always Dreaming got off to a good start, but soon fell out of the race around the final turn, finishing in eighth place. At that time, Classic Empire took the lead, but was chased down on the final straightaway by Cloud Computing, who ended up beating Classic Empire by less than a horse’s length. By winning the Preakness, owners, Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, jockey, Javier Castellano, and trainer, Chad Brown, will take home 1.5 million dollars.
As seen by the way Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing won their races, it is impressive the amount of training and upkeep that is put into these horses. One student said that the racing of the horses “takes years of practice and there are many strategies that could work best for certain horses, which must be figured out for a successful race”. Make sure to tune in to the Belmont Stakes on June 10, 2017, in the third and final race of the Triple Crown competitions.