How 11 Triple Crown Winners Spent Their Retirement Years
By Scott Allen
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.