How 11 Triple Crown Winners Spent Their Retirement Years

JOHN ANGELILLO/UPI/Landov

The decision to scratch and retire I’ll Have Another with swelling in his left front leg on the day before the Belmont Stakes cost him a shot to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, but owner J. Paul Reddam still stands to make millions in stud fees. While the three-year-old colt would likely have commanded an even greater fee had he raced and won Saturday, most bloodstock agents and other experts expect him to garner $5 million to $10 million as a sire. Here’s a look at the post-Belmont careers – both on and off the track – of the 11 Triple Crown winners.

1. Sir Barton, 1919

One year after winning the Triple Crown and Horse of the Year honors, Sir Barton faced off against Man o’ War in a match race at Canada’s Kenilworth Park. Man o’ War, a legend in his own right, won by seven lengths and Sir Barton was retired to stud in Berryville, Va., shortly thereafter. After 11 mostly unimpressive years as a sire, Sir Barton’s owners turned him over to the U.S. Remount Service, which bred and supplied horses to the Army. Sir Barton’s stud fee dropped to around $10, and in 1933 the Army sold him to Dr. J.R. Hylton. Sir Barton died of colic at Dr. Hylton’s Wyoming ranch on October 30, 1937.

2. Gallant Fox, 1930

Gallant Fox raced six more times after winning the Triple Crown and scored wins in five of those races. He was retired to stud at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky at the end of the 1930 season and produced a three-year old champion in each of his first two crops as a sire. The first, Omaha, remains the only Triple Crown winner who was sired by a Triple Crown winner. Gallant Fox died on Nov. 13, 1954, one year after retiring from stud service. He was buried alongside Sir Gallahad III, who sired three Triple Crown champions, and Marguerite, his dam.

3. Omaha, 1935

Omaha was shipped to England on the RMS Aquitania in January 1936 and, according to newspaper accounts, “stood the sea trip very well.” Omaha made four starts across the pond, winning twice and placing twice. The son of Gallant Fox was retired to stud at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where he was a disappointment as a sire. The Jockey Club’s Breeding Bureau sent Omaha to a stud farm in New York in 1943. Seven years later, he was transferred to a farm in Nebraska, where he spent the final years of his life about 50 miles south of the city with which he shared a name.

4. War Admiral, 1937

War Admiral continued his racing career after winning the Triple Crown and edging Seabiscuit for Horse of the Year honors in 1937. The two thoroughbred legends met for the only time on November 1, 1938, in the Pimlico Special match race in Baltimore, with Seabiscuit winning by four lengths. War Admiral retired to stud in July 1939 with earnings totaling $273,240 and 21 wins in 26 starts, and was the leading sire in North America in 1945. He died in 1959 at the age of 25.

5. Whirlaway, 1941

Whirlaway, who was also known as Mr. Longtail, was a must-see attraction after winning the Triple Crown. He ran an incredible 22 races in 1942 at racetracks across the country to help raise money for the War Emergency Relief Fund. A bowed tendon as a five-year old sent Whirlaway into retirement at Kentucky’s Calumet Farm in 1946. In 1950, he was leased to breeder Marcel Boussac, who moved the two-time Horse of the Year to his stud farm in France. Boussac purchased full ownership of Whirlaway in 1952, only to have the two-time Horse of the Year die of a heart attack the following year.

6. Count Fleet, 1943

Count Fleet scored an unprecedented quintuple triumph and was named the unanimous Horse of the Year in 1943. After winning the Wood Memorial, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Withers, he captured the Belmont with a then-record 25-length victory. Count Fleet injured his ankle during the race, which led to an early end to a promising racing career. He sired one Kentucky Derby winner and two Belmont Stakes winners after retiring to stud and died on Dec. 3, 1973 at the age of 33.

7. Assault, 1946

Assault was retired to King Ranch in Texas in February 1948 after winning five of seven starts as a four-year-old. The 1946 Horse of the Year’s stud career was brief, as it was determined that he was sterile. Assault returned to the racing circuit and won three more races over the next three years before hanging up his saddle for good in 1950. He earned $672,470 in his career, with 18 wins in 42 starts. Assault died on Sept. 1, 1971 at the age of 28.

8. Citation, 1948

Citation developed arthritis in his fetlock joint toward the end of his Triple Crown-winning year and missed all of the 1949 season as a result. Still, trainer Jimmy Jones was determined to get him back out on the track. “We have a definite goal,” Jones said in 1950. “We want Citation to be the first horse to win a million dollars. When he does that, he’ll be retired to the stud.” Jones kept his promise. Citation eclipsed the $1 million mark at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., on July 14, 1951, and was immediately retired to Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky. Citation died on August 8, 1970 at the age of 25.

9. Secretariat, 1973

Super Red, as fans knew him, ran his final race at the Canadian Championship in Toronto in October 1973. He went to stud under the terms of a then-record $6.08 million syndication deal, which helped pay off the estate taxes of his owner’s father. (Syndication deals spread the inherent gamble associated with high-stakes breeding across multiple buyers, who purchase shares in the horse. Each share grants the owner the right to breed a mare of his or her choosing with the syndicated horse once a year for as long as the horse lives.) Secretariat retired as the sixth-leading money winner of all-time, but had mixed success as a stallion. He was put down on Oct. 5, 1989, after suffering from laminitis, an incurable hoof condition.

10. Seattle Slew, 1977

Seattle Slew was syndicated for a then-record $12 million in February 1978. He was retired to stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky at the end of the season and sired several champion foals. Seattle Slew died in his stall on May 7, 2002, 25 years to the day after he won the Kentucky Derby. His progeny included Swale, who won the 1984 Kentucky Derby.

11. Affirmed, 1978

One of the highlights of Affirmed’s post-Triple Crown career was the 1978 Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap at Belmont Park. While he lost to Seattle Slew, it marked the first time that two Triple Crown Winners raced against each other. The $66,000 that Affirmed won for finishing second pushed him past Secretariat as the top earner in a single year with $901,541. He was named Horse of the Year, an honor he retained in 1979 by winning seven of nine starts. Affirmed was syndicated for a then-record $14.4 million and retired to stud in October 1979, finishing his career as the first horse to surpass $2 million in winnings. His 700-plus foals earned roughly $40 million. Affirmed was euthanized in 2001 after developing laminitis.

What’s in Store for I’ll Have Another?

Evan Hammonds, executive editor of the thoroughbred industry magazine BloodHorse, told CNN that he expects I’ll Have Another to fetch $20,000 to $25,000 every time he breeds. That could add up to $10 million over his lifetime. While it’s significantly less than what he likely would have garnered 10 years ago – 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus was syndicated for a record $70 million and began his stallion career with a stud fee of $150,000 – that’s a decent return for Reddam, who purchased the colt for $35,000.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Amazing Facts About Bruce Lee On His 80th Birthday

Photo courtesy of The Bruce Lee Family Archive
Photo courtesy of The Bruce Lee Family Archive

Bruce Lee is one of pop culture's most multifaceted icons. Legions of fans admire him for his movies, his martial arts prowess, his incomprehensible physical fitness, his championing of Chinese culture, and even his philosophies on life. Yet for all the new ground Lee broke, most of his recognition only came after his death at the age of 32. Read on to learn more about the life of this profound, if enigmatic, superstar.

1. Bruce Lee’s first starring role in a movie came when he was just 10 years old.

In 1950’s The Kid, a pre-teen Bruce Lee played the role of Kid Cheung, a streetwise orphan and wry troublemaker, based on a comic strip from the time. Starring opposite Lee, playing a kindly factory owner, was his father, Lee Hoi-chuen, who also happened to be a famous opera singer. (Bruce Lee was actually born in San Francisco while his father was there on tour; Lee would move back to the U.S. in 1959).

According to Lee biographer Matthew Polly, the movie was a big enough success in China to earn sequel consideration. There was just one problem: A young Bruce Lee was getting into fights at school and out on the streets, so his father forbid him from acting again until he straightened up—which, of course, didn’t wind up happening.

2. Bruce Lee was deemed physically unfit for the U.S. Army.

While he may have walked around with body fat in the single digits and could do push-ups using only two fingers, Lee still managed to fail a military physical for the U.S. draft board back in 1963. Despite being an adherent to physical fitness all his adult life, it was an undescended testicle that kept him from fighting for Uncle Sam in Vietnam.

3. Bruce Lee was an exquisite cha-cha dancer.

Long before he was known for breakneck fight choreography, Bruce Lee’s physical skills were focused on the dance floor. More specifically, the cha-cha. In Polly’s book, Bruce Lee: A Life, the author explains that the dance trend made its way from Cuba through the Philippines and soon landed in China. And once the cha-cha settled into the Hong Kong social scene, it didn’t take long for youth dance competitions to spring up. Lee had been taking part in cha-cha dancing since the age of 14, and in 1958, he won the Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship. Foreshadowing his later dedication to martial arts, Lee would keep crib notes of all 108 different cha-cha steps in his wallet so that he could obsessively memorize them.

4. Bruce Lee refused to lose a fight to Robin.

The Green Hornet aired its first episode in September 1966, with Bruce Lee as the Hornet's (Van Williams) lightning-quick sidekick, Kato. The series would immediately be compared to Batman, ABC's other costumed crime-fighting show, and it wouldn't be long before a two-part crossover episode was in the works. And as heroes do, before they teamed up, they first had to fight each other. According to Newsweek, since Batman was by far the more popular show, the script featured a fight between Burt Ward's Robin and Bruce Lee's Kato that was set to end with the Boy Wonder getting the upper hand. But who would really buy that?

Well, Lee certainly didn't—and he knew no one else would, either. Williams later recalled that Lee read the script and simply said, "I'm not going to do that," and walked off. Common sense soon prevailed ... sort of. The script was rewritten to change the ending—not to a Kato K.O., but to a more diplomatic draw. Though The Green Hornet was Lee's first big break in the United States, the series itself lasted only 26 episodes.

5. Bruce Lee trained numerous Hollywood stars.

As Bruce Lee worked to become a big-screen heavyweight, he made a living as a martial arts trainer to the stars. Among Lee’s students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn, James Garner, Roman Polanski, and Sharon Tate. For his services, Lee was known to charge about $275 per hour or $1000 for 10 courses. McQueen and Coburn grew so enamored with Lee over the years that they remained close friends until his death in 1973, with both men serving as pallbearers at Lee's funeral (alongside Chuck Norris).

6. Roman Polanski may have (briefly) thought Bruce Lee murdered Sharon Tate.

In addition to providing Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate with kung fu lessons, Bruce Lee also lived near the couple in Los Angeles when Tate and four others, including Lee’s close friend Jay Sebring, were murdered by the Manson Family in August 1969. It would be months before the Manson Family was arrested for the murders, but in the meantime, according to an article from Esquire, Polanski had grown obsessed with finding a suspect, looking for potential perpetrators even amongst his own inner circle.

During one kung fu lesson in the months after the murders, Lee had mentioned to Polanski how he had recently lost his glasses, which immediately piqued the director’s interest. A mysterious pair of horn-rimmed glasses had been found at the murder scene near his wife’s body, after all. Polanski had even purchased a gauge to measure the lenses and find out the exact prescription so that he could do his own detective work, according to The New York Post.

The director, without giving himself away, offered to bring Lee to his optician to get a new pair—this would allow him to hear Lee’s prescription firsthand and determine if the specs discovered at the crime scene belonged to him. It turned out Lee’s prescription didn’t match, and Polanski never told his friend about his suspicions.

7. Bruce Lee had his sweat glands removed.

Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973).Warner Home Video

Bruce Lee brought an impeccable physique to the screen that was decades ahead of its time. But because his roles required so much physicality, he would be drenched with sweat while filming. And apparently, the martial arts pioneer loathed the sweat stains that would show up on his clothing as a result. His solution? In 1973, Lee actually underwent a procedure to surgically remove the sweat glands from his armpits to avoid the fashion faux pas from showing up on camera.

8. Bruce Lee’s cause of death still raises questions.

Bruce Lee’s death at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973, was officially ruled the result of a cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain. Lee had complained about headaches on the day of his death, and was given a painkiller by Betty Ting Pei—an actress who claimed to be Lee's mistress—before lying down for a nap. He never woke up.

Though many reports at the time suggested Lee had an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the painkiller, Polly points to a mystery that began on May 10, 1973, when the star previously collapsed in a hot recording studio while dubbing new dialogue for Enter the Dragon.

In Polly’s opinion, Lee’s collapse had to do with heatstroke, since his stint in an overheated recording studio was compounded by a lack of sweat glands that prevented his body from cooling off naturally. Heatstroke can also cause swelling in the brain, much like was found during Lee’s autopsy. And Dr. Lisa Leon, an expert in hyperthermia at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, told Polly, “A person who has suffered one heat stroke is at increased risk for another" and that there may be long-term complications after the initial incident.

9. Footage from Bruce Lee’s Funeral was used in 1978’s Game of Death.

At the time of his death, Bruce Lee was involved in numerous projects, including the movie that would become Game of Death, his next directorial effort. According to Vice, there wasn’t much completed on the film by the time of Lee’s passing—there were some notes, a story outline (which simply read “The big fight. An arrest is made. The airport. The end.”), and 40 minutes of footage, including Lee’s now-iconic fight against NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Usually, a project in that situation would just be a lost cause, but production company Golden Harvest wanted to salvage what they could, so they hired Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse to put together ... something. The result was a Frankenstein’s monster of a film, comprised of 11 minutes of existing footage Lee shot, overdubbed clips from his previous movies, and stand-ins to fill out certain scenes. The director even resorted to using an unfortunate Bruce Lee cardboard cutout to complete one shot.

That’s not even the top rung on the ladder of poor taste: When the movie called for Lee’s character to fake his death, they used footage from his actual funeral to realize the scene, complete with waves of mourners, pallbearers, and closeups of Lee’s open casket.

10. Bruce Lee’s posthumous success resulted in its own sub-genre.

Lee’s career was exploding in China and gaining momentum in the United States by 1973, but he passed away just a month before his biggest hit was released: Enter the Dragon. The movie, which grossed more than $200 million at the worldwide box office, catapulted the late Lee to icon status. But with the star himself no longer around to capitalize, there would soon be a wave of knockoff films and wannabes looking to take advantage of the martial arts craze.

Both affectionately and derisively known as “Bruceploitation” films, this strange sub-genre of martial arts cinema gave life to z-movie oddities like Re-Enter the Dragon and Enter the Game of Death, starring the likes of—and we’re not kidding—Bruce Le and Bruce Li. Jackie Chan was even roped into a few of these movies, like 1976's New Fist of Fury. In 1980, Bruceploitation even went meta with The Clones of Bruce Lee, starring Dragon Lee, Bruce Le, and Bruce Lai, who play genetic reconstructions of the late actor after scientists harvest his DNA.