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Past winners of Triple Crown want no changes made to the races

The subject comes up often. This year, when everyone is clamoring for California Chrome to win the Triple Crown, the issue of spacing out the three races or considering changes to the distances is once again in the spotlight. It seems like everyone has an opinion. ESPN tackled this matter with various notable horseracing individuals and summarized the interesting results dated May 28. This year, 2014, has the dynamic colt, California Chrome, chasing down the Triple Crown and the issue of race dates and race lengths takes on a whole new meaning.

The great Secretariat
The great Secretariat
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California Chrome is ready to run in Belmont
Al Bello/Getty Images

Opinions about changes to the Triple Crown vary among race fans, bettors and horse enthusiasts but, mostly, fans want no adjustments.

It is evident that previous winners and their connections and long-time horserace enthusiasts want no changes to any part of the Triple Crown races. All agree that the Triple Crown consists of a series of tough races, takes a talented, great horse to bring home the crown and is perhaps the most desirable feat in horseracing. Over countless years, many horses have tried to win the crown and only a very few have been successful. The Triple Crown is a daunting achievement for a young horse barely three years old.

Bob Ehalt wraps up the comments and thoughts of people personally involved with racehorses in his ESPN blog. No one is interested in making any changes to the historic races.

The owner of the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, Penny Chenery, stated emphatically at a National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference,

It's not fine with me. It would invalidate all the records, all the times. It would make it an entirely different event. …

Patrice Wolfson, co-owner of Affirmed, spoke emphatically about possible changes to the Triple Crown. She said,

It would be awful. [The Triple Crown] is wonderful. It's a unique set of races. It would not work [to change it]. It's such a special group of races, and the timing is perfect and a horse has to be up to it. …

Three prominent jockeys, riders of Triple Crown winning horses, spoke up about the famous races. Secretariat’s rider, Ron Turcotte, said that he believes stretching the races out will result in decreased fan interest. Jean Cruguet, Seattle Slew’s rider, considers the Triple Crown as most important in the making of a special horse. Affirmed’s rider, Steve Cauthen, says, “If you change it, it isn’t the same. It doesn’t count.”

Tom Chuckas, Pimlico president, went on the record that he would like to change the timing of the races from May into July. Chuckas cites that many Derby horses skip the Preakness Stakes only to then run in the Belmont and spoil a possible Triple Crown winner.

Dr. Jim Hill co-owned 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. He feels that changing anything about the Triple Crown would taint it and the previous winners. He explains it this way,

It's a special thing, and racing needs a special thing. We're trying to make super horses, and I think it takes not only an exceptional horse to win all three races, but great training and management and good luck. All those things should go together, and I don't think the task should be lessened at all. …

Seasoned trainers also feel that the races should remain as they have been run for many years. For instance, the trainer of Seattle Slew, Bill Turner, sums the Triple Crown issue this way:

The whole idea of the Triple Crown is you have to breed a horse that can perform with speed and stamina and also have the mindset to withstand the pressure of the campaign. … It's about breeding a better horse.

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