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.

Why Are Marathons 26.2 Miles Long?

iStock/ZamoraA
iStock/ZamoraA

What's the reason behind the cursed distance of a marathon? The mythical explanation is that, around 490 BCE, the courier Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news that the Greeks had trounced the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. The trouble with that explanation, however, is that Pheidippides would have only covered a distance of approximately 25 miles. So what accounts for the extra 1.2 miles?

When the modern marathon appeared in the late 19th century, the race distance was inconsistent. During the first Olympic games in 1896, runners jogged along Pheidippides’s old route for a distance of 40,000 meters—or 24.85 miles. (That race, by the way, was won by a Greek postal worker.) The next Olympic games saw the distance bumped to a pinch over 25 miles. And while subsequent marathons floated around the 25 mile mark, no standard distance was ever codified.

Then the Olympics came to London. In 1908, the marathon, which stretched between Windsor Castle and White City Stadium in London, lasted 26.2 miles—all for the benefit of England's royal family.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. Like previous races, the original event was supposed to cover a ballpark of 25 miles. The royal family, however, had other plans: They wanted the event to start directly in front of Windsor Castle—as the story goes, the royal children wanted to see the start of the race from the castle nursery. Officials duly agreed and moved the starting line, tacking on an extra mile to the race.

As for the pesky final 0.2? That was the royal family’s fault, too. The finish line was extended an extra 385 yards so the race would end in front of the royal family’s viewing box.

Those extra 1.2 miles proved to be a curse. The race’s leader, an Italian pastry chef named Dorando Pietri, collapsed multiple times while running toward the finish line and had to be helped to his feet. One of the people who came to his aid was a journalist named Arthur Conan Doyle. Afterward, Conan Doyle wrote about Pietri's late-race struggles for the Daily Mail, saying, "Through the doorway crawled a little, exhausted man ... He trotted for a few exhausted yards like a man galvanized into life; then the trot expired into a slow crawl, so slow that the officials could scarcely walk slow enough to keep beside him."

After the London Olympics, the distance of most marathons continued to hover between 24 and 26 miles, but it seems that Conan Doyle's writing may have brought special attention to the distance of 26.2, endowing it with a legendary "breaker-of-men" reputation. Indeed, when the International Amateur Athletic Federation convened to standardize the marathon, they chose the old London distance of 26 miles and 385 yards—or 26.219 miles.

Writing for Reuters, Steven Downes concluded that, "the marathon race may have been as much a Conan Doyle creation as Sherlock Holmes."

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Good Luck, Gritty: 8 Sports Mascots that Struck Out

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

This September, Philadelphia introduced us to Gritty, the new mascot of their hockey team, the Flyers. A spiritual cousin to the town's other brightly colored eccentric, the Phillie Phanatic, Gritty is already beloved by his city and the internet alike for his outrageous (though sometimes frightening) appearance and antics. But not all mascots make their way into the hearts of the masses the way Gritty has—and not all of them should. Here are eight mascots who struck out from across pro sports.

1. DANDY // NEW YORK YANKEES

A game at Yankee Stadium is usually more about the business of baseball than a fun day for the family—but starting in 1979, a pinstriped, mustachioed, Phanatic-like creature named Dandy could be found roaming through the stands at Yankee Stadium, in an attempt to delight children in the crowd. His weird Big Bird body was made entirely out of a furry, classic Yankees uniform and was accented with a bright orange handlebar moustache and orange hair sticking out from under his sideways ballcap. Needless to say, Dandy disappeared into obscurity quickly; by 1981, he was toast. In fact, in 1998, longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner claimed he had "no recollection" of Dandy's existence.

2. BOOMER // COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

In 2010, the Columbus NHL franchise introduced Boomer the Cannon, another mustachioed mascot, along with their then-new alternate uniforms. Though Boomer was made in the image of the goal cannon in the Blue Jackets arena, his drab color scheme and generally phallic appearance were off-putting to fans. After his less than stellar reception, Boomer was "unceremoniously resigned mid-season," according to Columbus Alive, the city's entertainment magazine.

3. CHIEF NOC-A-HOMA // ATLANTA BRAVES

One of the longer lasting mascots on our list, and certainly the most offensive, Chief Noc-A-Homa represented the Atlanta Braves for 20 years (though he was first introduced in 1953, when the team was in Milwaukee). One of the many examples of objectionable depictions of Native Americans in professional sports, Chief was given a teepee in the stadium that he was meant to emerge from to perform a ceremonial dance when the Braves would, uh, knock a homer. After disputes over payment, the third Chief Noc-A-Homa was retired in 1986 and hasn't been seen since.

4. BONNIE BREWER // MILWAUKEE BREWERS

The Milwaukee Brewers have one of the most vibrant and recognizable mascot cultures in pro sports with their popular sausage race during the sixth inning. However, long before the sprinting meat, there was Bonnie Brewer. Bonnie, clad in lederhosen and a Brewers hat, would emerge in the middle of the fifth inning to help the grounds crew clean up the infield, sweeping each base clean. She would also give the opposing team's third base coach a kiss on the cheek when passing. As antiquated as the role sounds now, the women who played Bonnie fondly remember their experience. "For Pete's sake," Anne Haines, the final woman to play Bonnie, quipped this year, "it got a woman on the field!"

5. PIERRE THE PELICAN // NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

True, Pierre still roams the stands of the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, but not in his original form. When Pierre was first introduced in October 2013 as the new mascot of the Pelicans basketball team, he had deep, dark pupils and a red beak, presumably colored with the blood of his enemies and prey. Kids and adults alike were rightfully put off by Pierre's appearance, and almost immediately the team announced that he needed "plastic surgery" to fix a "broken beak." Looks like he got an eye lift and hair cut while he was at it, too.

6. CRAZY CRAB // SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

All of these mascots were retired, at least in part, due to their lack of popularity, but none has been as downright hated and abused as the Giants' Crazy Crab, who only served one season in 1984. The hate was by design, oddly enough—fans were encouraged to boo and throw objects at the Crab, and players would push him around, too. Crazy Crab's suit had to be lined with a fiberglass shell to protect from actor Wayne Doba from the various bottles, batteries, and urine-filled balloons thrown at him. The legend Crazy Crab left is one well-known. ESPN produced a 30 for 30 short on his tenure as an "anti-mascot," and when he made a quick return in 2008, he was greeted with sneers, jeers, and beers to the face.

7. THUNDER // GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

What did Thunder ever have to do with the Warriors? Good question! No one really knows!

Thunder's blue physique and lightning-bolted head stood out as the proud logo and mascot for the Warriors in the '00s before their elegant redesign and rise to prominence. A sort of statuesque, superhero Adonis, Thunder was known for his high-flying stunt baskets and halftime shows in Oracle Arena. Unfortunately, he had to be let go in 2008 when the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City and renamed their team the Thunder. The Warriors haven't had a mascot since.

8. METTLE THE MULE // NEW YORK METS

The anthropomorphic baseballs that are Mr. and Mrs. Met are quite possibly the loveliest couple in the MLB. But once upon a time before the team moved to their current Citi Field location, Mettle the Mule walked the foul line at Shea Stadium in 1979. Given his name by a fan, Mettle was meant to embody the "spirit, ardor, stamina, and courage" of the New York Mets. Mettle has been forgotten in large part because he was a real mule, not a goofy mascot, and also, almost no one went to Mets games during the 1979 season.

BONUS: KING CAKE BABY // NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Apparently New Orleans is gunning to be the horror capital of the mascot world. Not to be outdone by Pierre the Pelican's original, frightening appearance, the team also introduced the King Cake Baby, a cartoonish, nightmare-inducing giant newborn meant to emulate the good luck charm found in the traditional Mardi Gras pastry. Each year, King Cake Baby terrorizes NOLA during Mardi Gras (even if he often comes bearing colorful king cake). Good luck sleeping, New Orleans!

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