After a year in which the sporting action was heavily disrupted by the pandemic, fans are looking forward to 2021’s main events like never before.
Among the big occasions to look forward to this year is the American Triple Crown of horse racing. What is this and what can we expect from it in the coming year?
What Is the Triple Crown?
This is the name given to the three major races in thoroughbred horse racing in the US. These are the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. They are all historic events, but the Triple Crown trophy only started being used in the 1950s.
Just 13 horses have managed to win all three of these races in the same year. The first to do it was the legendary Sir Barton in 1919. The last time it was won was by Justify in 2018, while perhaps the most famous Triple Crown winner was Secretariat, who scooped the three victories in 1973.
2020 witnessed these races being moved from their usual dates and run behind closed doors, but what can we expect to see in 2021?
The Kentucky Derby
This race is traditionally run at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville. Mike Anderson is the president of this venue and he said that the 147th running of this famous race will go ahead without any major hitches.
It will return to its usual date in early May this year, with Saturday May 1 lined up as the big day. The Run for the Roses was completed without any fans being there in 2020, but this year should see the venue being filled up to perhaps 40% of the full capacity.
The winner last year was Authentic ridden by jockey John Velazquez. Among the most interesting Kentucky Derby contenders for 2021 so far are Essential Quality, Keepmeinmind, and Jackie’s Warrior. Click here to check out the current odds: TwinSpires.com/kentuckyderby/odds
The Preakness Stakes
The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans takes place at the Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland each year. The usual date for this popular event is towards the end of May, but in 2020 it was held in early October and with no spectators there to witness the filly Swiss Skydiver coming home in first place.
2021 will mark the 146th time that this iconic race is run, and it is set to return to May, with the 15th of that month marked in as the day to look forward to. It isn’t yet clear how many racing fans will be able to attend this year, but we would expect it to be along the lines of the Kentucky Derby.
The Belmont Stakes
This is the final leg of the Triple Crown, and if any horse has the chance of winning all three of these races then there will be a huge level of expectation by the time it starts. The Test of the Champion became the first leg of the Triple Crown in 2020, as it remained in its usual June slot and the other two races were delayed.
New York-bred Tiz the Law won the title last year, ridden by Manuel Franco. This year, the 153st time that the Belmont Stakes is run should see sizeable crowds return to Belmont Park in New York. Indeed, tickets for the event and for hospitality experience are already on sale online.
The return to normality of these three prestigious horse races will be taken by many people as a sign that the sporting world is getting back to what we know and love. It is likely that fans will be delighted to get back into these wonderful venues to watch some big races again.
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