As we’re days away from the Kentucky Derby – the inaugural meeting for the 2022 Triple Crown – the horse racing community is eagerly awaiting the possibility of a new Triple Crown champion.
Horse enthusiasts and bidding sports bettors are close to ending the countdown to a month-long Thoroughbred spectacle that will showcase the most elite horses in the country do battle for the legendary title of ‘Triple Crown Champion’.
What is the Triple Crown?
If you’re new around here or unfamiliar with horse racing in the United States, the Triple Crown is the most tremendous honor available for capture every year. Comprised of three races that present alternate distances and locations throughout a five-week period, 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will race in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. The prestigious Triple Crown will be awarded should one horse manage to win all three races.
The first Triple Crown began in 1875, but it wasn’t until 1919 that the trio of races was won by Sir Barton. In the competition’s history, only thirteen horses had succeeded in winning the elusive title of Triple Crown champion, the most recent coming in 2018 when trainer Bob Baffert did the unthinkable and won the Triple Stakes for a second time – an accomplishment that hadn’t been achieved since Jim Fitzsimmons led Gallant Fox and Omaha to Triple Stakes success in 1930 and 1935, respectively.
Triple Crown: The Past Winners
2018: Justify wins the Triple Crown – trained by Bob Baffert
2015: American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown – trained by Bob Baffert
1978: Affirmed wins the Triple Crown – trained by Laz Barrera
1977: Seattle Slew wins the Triple Crown – trained by William H. Turner, Jr.
1973: Secretariat wins the Triple Crown – trained by Lucien Laurin
1948: Citation wins the Triple Crown – trained by Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones
1946: Assault wins the Triple Crown – trained by Max Hirsch
1943: Count Fleet wins the Triple Crown – trained by Don Cameron
1941: Whirlaway wins the Triple Crown – trained by Ben A. Jones
1937: War Admiral wins the Triple Crown – trained by George Conway
1935: Omaha wins the Triple Crown – trained by Jim Fitzsimmons
1930: Gallant Fox wins the Triple Crown – trained by Jim Fitzsimmons
1919: Sir Barton wins the Triple Crown – trained by H. Guy Bedwell
In over one hundred years of competition, the small number of abovementioned winners proves how challenging the Triple Crown is to succeed in obtaining. This is a testament to Bob Baffert, who’ll surprisingly be absent from the 2022 Kentucky Derby.
Bob Baffert is Absent from the Kentucky Derby 2022
For the first time in decades, the Kentucky Derby will kickstart the Triple Crown season without the presence of Bob Baffert, as he won’t have the chance to win one of the three races.
Baffert was the face of American horse racing for close to 30 years but following a failed post-race drug test on his 2021 Derby winner Medina Spirit, he’s been barred from entering horses at Churchill Downs.
As a result of the failed drug tests, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission also suspended Baffert for 90 days, subsequently forcing him out of this year’s Triple Crown series.
2022 Triple Crown Betting Odds & Expectations
Horses Epicenter and Zandon are the betting favorites for the opening Kentucky Derby, but there’s no denying the Triple Crown opener at Churchill Downs could become a wide-open affair. Illinois is the nearest state to bet on the Derby, but I don’t expect heavy action on the top-two favorites, as their available odds are continually drifting.
Mo Donegal is seemingly a great price at +900, trainer Todd Pletcher has won two previous Derby wins, and Donegal’s closing speed is phenomenal. In addition, Mo Donegal has five top-3 finishes with three outright wins from all of his starts.
+700 odds on Messier are equally as tempting, as this horse has never finished worse than second place during his six-race career and has three 1st place finishes. Bob Baffert notably trained this colt before his suspension, and John Velasquez will be riding Messier, a jockey who won the Derby on three occasions.
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