When the undefeated Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby on May 7, he boosted his winning streak to eight races. His victory also boosted the inevitable speculation on whether he could capture the Triple Crown, which was won for the first time in 37 years by American Pharoah in 2015.
To do that, Nyquist “only” has to win two more races—the Preakness Stakes on May 21and the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
The last time there were back-to-back Triple Crown champions was in 1977 and 1978 when Seattle Slew and Affirmed respectively took Thoroughbred racing’s most coveted prize. They followed the legendary Secretariat, who became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown in 1973. Secretariat remains the only Triple Crown winner since 1919 to break the track records in all three races, and his records still stand.
“We are happy to point out that Nyquist is a great-great-great grandson of Secretariat,” said Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park. She noted that three of the top four finishers in the derby were Secretariat descendants.
In the Preakness, Nyquist will face fresh challengers, as well as some of his derby competitors. Horses are not required to race in the derby to be eligible for the Preakness. Similarly, they are not required to run in the derby or Preakness to be eligible for the Belmont.
Those races take place on three different tracks in three different states over a period of only five weeks.
“Racehorses usually get a break of about four to six weeks between races,” Ladin said. “This is why the Triple Crown is truly the test of champions.”
Ladin, co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend, closely tracks descendants of the legendary stallion and discusses them in her narrated tours of his birthplace at The Meadow. The property is listed on both the national and state registers of historic sites.
The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County is owned by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and is the home of the State Fair of Virginia and other events. For more information on The Meadow’s Hoofprints of History tours, visit MeadowEventPark.com.