Expectations for this weekend’s 137th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs are sub-par, with many calling it a “ bad field” of 20 horses, but bettors favor Dialed In to take the top spot. The subdued expectations for this year’s race could be a signal of impatience among horse-racing fans. After all, it’s been more than three decades since the sport has witnessed a triple-threat thoroughbred; the last horse to win all three Triple Crown races was Affirmed in 1978. But while Affirmed was the most recent, and Secretariat arguably the most famous of Derby winners, where do the other champions rank among the annual record holders?
Gallery: 20 Top Triple Crown Horses Ever
To figure out the top racehorses in the history of the U.S. Triple Crown, The Daily Beast examined every horse that won at least one leg of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Besides their finishes, each horse was measured by speed and length of victory/loss. A total score for each horse was calculated based on its winning time and winning margin compared to the average time and margin for the specific race. Horses that placed second, third or worse in any one of the Crown races were penalized.
To cull a list that reflects the fastest and most winning horses in the history of the Crown, horses that were not entered or could not run in all three races were not considered for our ranks—leaving the famous, nearly undefeated famous Man o’ War off the list. And since our methodology rewards not only those that race the fastest among their peers on the track, but also among their peers in the history of the race, other famous Triple Crown winners like Citation fell off of our final list while burners like Mine That Bird moved up the ranks despite winning only a single Triple Crown race.