Belmont Stakes History – Rmember Whirlaway, A Triple Crown Winner We Can Never Forget

Whirlaway became the 5th Triple Crown winner by winning the Belmont Stakes in 1941.

If there has ever been a mad genius of horse racing, it is Whirlaway. It is safe to say that this horse had a couple of screws loose.

He had propensity for bearing out and drifting toward the middle of the racetrack which was often the cause of his getting himself beaten. He was blessed with a world of ability and when he was right, the only horse that could beat him was himself. Despite this self induced handicap he gave himself, he still managed to win much of the time.

In fact, in his first race, he went straight to the outside rail, followed it all the way around the track, and still managed to win.

In the Saratoga Special, he bolted to the fence at the far turn and still won.

The propensity he showed as a two year old for bearing out continued on into his three year old season. In the Bluegrass Stakes, he bore out and was beaten six lengths by Our Boots. In the Derby Trial, five days prior to the Kentucky Derby, he did it again, and got himself beat by ¾ of a length, again finishing second. Amazingly, the Derby Trial was his 23rd race of his career. These days it is unusual to see a horse with more than seven starts upon entering the Kentucky Derby.

Prior to the Kentucky Derby, his trainer took the unusual steps of walking him all around the inside rail so that he understood the path he was supposed to take. His trainer Ben Jones saw fit to make an equipment change. To remedy the situation, he decided to try a one eyed blinker with a cup on the outside, to restrict vision in Whirlaway’s right eye and also cut a hole for his left eye through his blinkers so that he could see the inside rail but not the outside one. The measure proved to be a successful one and he won the Derby by 8 lengths despite being blocked early on.

In the Kentucky Derby, after trailing in dead last, Whirlaway rallied from the back of the pack to take the Kentucky Derby by eight lengths, a record margin, and did so in track record time of 201 2/5 for the 1 ¼ miles.

His Preakness was almost as impressive, dominating that race by 5 ½ lengths with speed to spare.

On June 7, 1941, only three others went to the post with him. Whirlaway led by 7 lengths in midstretch and loped to the wire, winning easily in a gallop.

Whirlaway went on to win his five of his next six races, and resumed his old habit of bearing out in a couple of his winning ones. He raced 60 times in his career, winning 32 races, and finishing in the top three in 56 of those 60 starts. He ended his career with $561,161 in career earnings. Blood-Horse magazine ranked him No. 26 in their list of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th century.

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