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SportsHorseracingBelmont Stakes

Ranking horse racing's Triple Crown winners

Justify became the 13th member of horse racing’s exclusive Triple Crown club after winning the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Newsday racing writer Ed McNamara ranks the previous 12 winners.

12. SIR BARTON (1919)

Nobody knew he'd won the first Triple Crown
Photo Credit: AP

Nobody knew he'd won the first Triple Crown because it would be almost 20 years before the term became common in America. This nasty critter disliked animals and all people but his groom.

11. ASSAULT (1946)

The only Texas-bred to sweep was called
Photo Credit: AP

The only Texas-bred to sweep was called "The Club-Footed Comet" because his right front foot became deformed after he stepped on a sharp object when he was very young.

10. OMAHA (1935)

He was 1-for-9 at age 2 before winning
Photo Credit: AP

He was 1-for-9 at age 2 before winning the Derby by 1 1/2 lengths and the Preakness by six. At 4, he became the only Triple Crown champion to visit England, winning twice.

9. COUNT FLEET (1943)

The front-running Count Fleet excelled during World War
Photo Credit: AP

The front-running Count Fleet excelled during World War II, offering a badly needed diversion. He led throughout the classics, capped by a 25-length romp at odds of 1-20 against two rivals.

8. AMERICAN PHAROAH (2015)

American Pharoah battled in the Kentucky Derby before
Photo Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.

American Pharoah battled in the Kentucky Derby before dominating the Preakness and Belmont Stakes on the lead. He's a magnificent 7-for-7 by 35 3/4 lengths since a troubled debut. Be wary of the mania of rating whatever just happened as the greatest achievement ever, but Pharoah's perfect stride and floating motion stamp him as one in a million.

7. GALLANT FOX (1930)

Gallant Fox is the only Triple Crown winner
Photo Credit: AP

Gallant Fox is the only Triple Crown winner to sire one - Omaha. The Great Depression began the autumn before Gallant Fox's 9-for-10 campaign provided an escape for many Americans.

6. WAR ADMIRAL (1937)

This villain in
Photo Credit: AP

This villain in "Seabiscuit" lost to "The People's Horse" in a famous 1938 match race. The year before, smallish War Admiral led all the way in Louisville, Baltimore and Elmont.

5. WHIRLAWAY (1941)

Trainer Ben Jones called him
Photo Credit: AP

Trainer Ben Jones called him "The Half-Wit" because he ran ridiculously wide on turns until fitted with a blinker over his right eye. "Mr. Long Tail" dominated the Crown by 16 lengths.

4. AFFIRMED (1978)

Affirmed teased Alydar before breaking his heart, taking
Photo Credit: AP

Affirmed teased Alydar before breaking his heart, taking the Derby, Preakness and Belmont by gradually shrinking margins - 1 1/2 lengths, a neck, a head.

3. SEATTLE SLEW (1977)

Only the speedy Seattle Slew swept while undefeated,
Photo Credit: AP

Only the speedy Seattle Slew swept while undefeated, and his $17,500 yearling price made him the ultimate bargain. He went 14-for-17 and is the best stallion in the Triple Crown club.

2. CITATION (1948)

Citation could sprint and go long, and his
Photo Credit: AP

Citation could sprint and go long, and his sustained excellence was amazing. He was 14-for-16 (two second places) before ruling the classics by a combined 17 lengths under jockey Eddie Arcaro.

1. SECRETARIAT (1973)

Secretariat raised the bar for greatness impossibly high
Photo Credit: AP

Secretariat raised the bar for greatness impossibly high by setting track records in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He moved "like a tremendous machine," acing "The Test of the Champion" by 31 lengths in 2:24. Records are made to be broken, but not those.

New York Sports

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