No Need for Asterisks in 2020 Covid-19 Triple Crown

Triple Crown

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the Triple Crown on it’s head this year. (Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography).

On Saturday Tiz the Law will be the short priced favorite to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and the question of an asterisk attached to his name has already started.

The Triple Crown for most of it’s history has been three races over five weeks, the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May, the Preakness Stakes two weeks later and then three weeks to the Belmont Stakes.

Not all Triple Crown winners have followed that path. Sir Barton won the Preakness just four days after his Derby win. Gallant Fox won the Preakness first, his victory in the Run for the Roses coming eight days later.

The distances have not always gone from 1 1/4 to 1 3/16 to 1 1/2 miles either. Sir Barton won his Triple Crown going 1 3/8 miles in the Belmont.

Now in 2020 we have the Covid-19 Triple Crown, where the opening jewel was the Belmont Stakes, run at 1 1/8 miles going one turn on June 20.

Yeah, it was not the “Test of Champions” at the antiquated distance of 1 1/2 miles, I get that.

This year’s Derby will be run more than two months later on Sept. 5. Then it is another month until the Preakness. The Triple Crown has gone from five weeks to 15.

Nothing like a worldwide pandemic to shake things up.

Some are saying if Tiz the Law wins on Saturday and comes back to win the Preakness, there should be an asterisk attached to his name.

This Year’s Triple Crown Could be Tougher

An argument could be made that winning the Triple Crown this year may be tougher.

When American Pharoah become the first Triple Crown winner in nearly four decades, he had the advantage in the Preakness of only facing four foes he beat in the Derby, most trainers not wanting to bring their horses back in just two weeks. He did face five foes in the Belmont that ran against him in the Derby.

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Belmont Stakes Replay

Justify only had to face three foes in the Preakness that he beat in the Derby. In the Belmont he faced four from the Derby and only two he faced in the Preakness.

During a five-week span there is limited time for a three-year-old to develop and now with 15 weeks, we could see a dramatic improvement from June to October among some of this class.

Tiz the Law had to beat nine foes in the Belmont, and at this point it looks as if he will only have to face Max Player and Sole Volante again.

However, he will have to face Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Honor A.P and Haskell (G1) winner Authentic. That is a pretty solid duo.

Travers Win Not the First

Tiz the Law, who won the Travers (G1) at Saratoga Aug. 8. would not be the first Triple Crown winner to win an additional race during his Triple Crown sweep.

Sir Barton, Omaha and Count Fleet won the Withers and Whirlaway won an allowance race. Citation won the Jersey Stakes between his Preakness and Belmont wins.

Did you know that between 1919 and 1957 geldings were not permitted to run in the Belmont Stakes? There is no asterisk in the record books for that. Creme Fraiche was the first gelding to win the Belmont in 1985.

Sir Barton only had to beat two foes to clinch his Triple Crown. Gallant Fox and Whirlaway only had to beat three.

We do not look back at Whirlaway’s Belmont and say, “Yeah, but who did he beat?” If you must know he beat Robert Morris, Yankee Chance and Itabo, and yes of course I had to look that up.

If Tiz the Law can win the Triple Crown this year, with a Travers win as an added bonus, we won’t be looking back at his accomplishments a decade from now and thinking he does not belong with the rest of the Triple Crown winners.

We will just see another great horse that won the Triple Crown and hopefully see his trainer Barclay Tagg getting a much deserved induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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