Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fun Facts About The Horse Racing & Batting Triple Crowns

Saturday at Pimlico Race Track, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense was nosed out by Curlin in the Preakness Stakes. Therefore, 1978’s Affirmed will remain the most recent triple crown horse for at least another year. Major league hitters have an even longer triple crown drought, with Carl Yastrzemski last accomplishing the feat in 1967. In honor of these rare achievements, here are some fun facts about the horse racing and batting triple crowns.

1937 was the only year in which horse racing (War Admiral) and baseball (Joe Medwick) each had a triple crown winner. The following year, both lost a match race to Seabiscuit.

Medwick was nicknamed Ducky, representing the only time a triple crown was won by a Pretty In Pink character.

1946 and 1948 winners Assault and Citation had nothing to do with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baseball winners Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb had a connection to their thoroughbred counterparts. Gehrig was called the Iron Horse, and Cobb was known as a horse’s ass.

Similarly, 1935 winner Omaha reminds baseball fans of the College World Series. Instead of a whip, jockey Willie Saunders used an aluminum bat down the stretch.

Omaha was sired by 1930 winner Gallant Fox. Omaha’s offspring, facing two generations of triple crown pressure, all wound up in rehab.

Gallant Fox was also the cousin of 1933 winner Jimmy Foxx.

Cobb won his triple crown in 1909 with 9 home runs. Back then, the American League had less power than a sitcom husband.

Like baseball, triple crown races before 1947 only allowed white horses.

Due to skipping the Kentucky Derby, the legendary Man ‘O War was not a triple crown winner. He was suspended from the race by David Stern.

Seattle Slew was the 1977 winner. Adhering to the usual Seattle stereotypes, away from the track he hung out in coffeehouses and played in a grunge band.

A notable difference between triple crown winners: They say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” No one ever said that about Mickey Mantle.

A Phillie has won the triple crown (Chuck Klein), but no filly has done so. The Phillies also have one more World Series title than the fillies.

In 1933, two Philadelphia players (Klein of the Phillies and Foxx of the A’s) won the triple crown. They still got ripped on WIP.

1919 winner Sir Barton was not actually knighted until 1922.

In horse racing, the term triple crown originated because a rapper needed something to rhyme with Churchill Downs.

1973 winner Secretariat still holds the race records in the Derby and Belmont. Unlike baseball records, his marks haven’t been toppled by his steroid-injected successors.

Ted Williams won the 1942 and 1947 American League triple crowns, yet wasn’t named MVP in either season. One of those awards went to Dirk Nowitzki.

Like Williams, jockey Eddie Arcaro won two triple crowns in the 1940s. No word on what his frozen head is up to these days.

No batters won the triples crown in their triple crown seasons. That would just be too mind-blowing.

Johnny Longden, jockey of 1943 winner Count Fleet, was supposed to be on the Titanic. He avoided disaster, unlike Yastrzemski on the ’78 Red Sox.

In his first season after being traded by Cincinnati, Frank Robinson won the 1966 triple crown. Twelve years later, the Reds tried to even the score by offering Johnny Bench for Affirmed.

Rogers Hornsby won the National League triple crown in 1922 and 1925. If his first name hadn’t been plural, he only would have won once.

All triple crown horses were three years old, but no triple crown batters were. Generally speaking, power-hitting three-year-olds don’t hit for average.