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.

The Time Baby Ruth Sued Babe Ruth

Allsport/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Allsport/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1920, the Curtiss Candy Company introduced the Baby Ruth candy bar, causing a certain baseball player with a very similar name to take notice. Babe Ruth was having a monstrous year—his 54 home runs in the 1920 season were more than any other team in the American League. If you were going to misappropriate someone’s name for a candy bar, Ruth’s was a logical choice.

Sensing opportunity, the Great Bambino struck back by creating his own Babe Ruth Home Run Bar. Curtiss quickly sued Ruth’s company for trademark infringement. But what happened next was surprising: When the Sultan of Swat accused the company of using his name, Curtiss feigned shock. Its bar was named after “Baby” Ruth Cleveland, daughter of President Grover Cleveland.

For years, this has been the oft-repeated explanation, but the argument makes no sense. Cleveland had been out of office for more than two decades and dead for 12 years when the bar debuted. “Baby” Ruth herself had died of diphtheria in 1904, at just 12 years old. Although the country’s most famous baseball star would seem much more likely to have a namesake candy than a former president's departed child, the courts sided with Curtiss.

When Ruth learned of the verdict, he bellowed, “Well, I ain’t eatin’ your damned candy bar anymore!” Somehow, the Baby Ruth bar survived without his support.

10 Winning Facts about Wheaties

General Mills
General Mills

Famous for its vivid orange boxes featuring star athletes and its classic "breakfast of champions" tagline, Wheaties might be the only cereal that's better known for its packaging than its taste. The whole wheat cereal has been around since the 1920s, becoming an icon not just of the breakfast aisle, but the sports and advertising worlds, too. Here are 10 winning facts about it.

1. IT WAS INVENTED BY ACCIDENT.

The Washburn Crosby Company wasn't initially in the cereal business. At the time, the Minnesota-based company—which became General Mills in 1928—primarily sold flour. But in 1921, the story goes, a dietitian in Minneapolis spilled bran gruel on a hot stove. The bran hardened into crispy, delicious flakes, and a new cereal was born. In 1924, the Washburn Crosby Company began selling a version of the flakes as a boxed cereal it called Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes. A year later, after a company-wide contest, the company changed the name to Wheaties.

2. ITS JINGLE FEATURED A SINGING UNDERTAKER AND A COURT BAILIFF.

Wheaties sales were slow at first, but the Washburn Crosby Company already had a built-in advertising platform: It owned the Minneapolis radio station WCCO. Starting on December 24, 1926, the station began airing a jingle for the cereal sung by a barbershop quartet called the Wheaties Quartet. The foursome sang "Have You Tried Wheaties" live over the radio every week, earning $15 (about $200 today) per performance. In addition to their weekly singing gig, the men of the Wheaties Quartet all also had day jobs: One was an undertaker, one was a court bailiff, one worked in the grain industry, and one worked in printing. The ad campaign eventually went national, helping boost Wheaties sales across the country and becoming an advertising legend.

3. WHEATIES HAS BEEN TIED TO SPORTS SINCE ALMOST THE BEGINNING.

Carl Lewis signs a Wheaties box with his image on it for a young boy.
Track and field Olympic medalist Carl Lewis
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images

Wheaties has aligned itself with the sports world since its early days. In 1927, Wheaties bought ad space at Minneapolis's Nicollet Park, home to a minor league baseball team called the Millers, and in 1933, the cereal brand started sponsoring the team's game-day radio broadcasts on WCCO. Eventually, Wheaties baseball broadcasts expanded to 95 different radio stations, covering teams all over the country and further cementing its association with the sport. Since then, generations of endorsements from athletes of all stripes have helped sell consumers on the idea that eating Wheaties can make them strong and successful just like their favorite players. The branding association has been so successful that appearing on a Wheaties box has itself become a symbol of athletic achievement.

4. WHEATIES HELPED KICK-START RONALD REAGAN'S ACTING CAREER.

In the 1930s, a young sports broadcaster named Ronald Reagan was working at a radio station in Des Moines, Iowa, narrating Wheaties-sponsored Chicago Cubs and White Sox games. As part of this job, Reagan went to California to visit the Cubs' spring training camp in 1937. While he was there, he also did a screen test at Warner Bros. The studio ended up offering him a seven-year contract, and later that year, he appeared in his first starring role as a radio commentator in Love Is On The Air.

5. ATHLETES' PHOTOS DIDN'T ALWAYS APPEAR ON THE FRONT OF BOXES.

Three Wheaties boxes featuring Michael Phelps
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Although a Wheaties box wouldn't seem complete without an athlete's photo on it today, the cereal didn't always feature athletes front and center. In the early years, the boxes had photos of athletes like baseball legend Lou Gehrig (the first celebrity to be featured, in 1934) on the back or side panels of boxes. Athletes didn't start to appear on the front of the box until 1958, when the cereal featured Olympic pole vaulter Bob Richards.

6. THE FIRST WOMAN ON A WHEATIES BOX WAS A PILOT.

Former Track and Field Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersey stands with a poster of her new Wheaties box after it was unveiled in 2004.
Former Track and Field Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersey stands with a poster of her new Wheaties box after it was unveiled in 2004.
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images

Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton became the first woman to appear on the front of a Wheaties box in 1984, but women did appear elsewhere on the box in the brand's early years. The first was pioneering aviator and stunt pilot Elinor Smith. Smith, whose picture graced the back of the box in 1934, set numerous world aviation records for endurance and altitude in the 1920s and 1930s.

7. IT USED TO HAVE A MASCOT.

Though we now associate Wheaties with athletes rather than an animal mascot, the cereal did have the latter during the 1950s. In an attempt to appeal to children, Wheaties adopted a puppet lion named Champy (short for "Champion") as the brand's mascot. Champy and his puppet friends sang about the benefits of Wheaties in commercials that ran during The Mickey Mouse Club, and kids could order their own Champy hand puppets for 50 cents (less than $5 today) if they mailed in Wheaties box tops.

8. MICHAEL JORDAN IS THE WHEATIES KING.

Of all the athletes who have graced the cover of a Wheaties box, basketball superstar Michael Jordan takes the cake for most appearances. He's been featured on the box 18 times, both alone and with the Chicago Bulls. He also served as a spokesperson for the cereal, appearing in numerous Wheaties commercials in the '80s and '90s.

9. FANS ONCE GOT THE CHANCE TO PICK A WHEATIES STAR.

MMA star Anthony Pettis on the front of a Wheaties box.
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The public hasn't often gotten a chance to weigh in on who will appear on the Wheaties box. But in 2014, Wheaties customers got to decide for the first time which athlete would be featured nationally. Called the Wheaties NEXT Challenge, the contest allowed people to vote for the next Wheaties Champion by logging their workouts on an app platform called MapMyFitness. Every workout of 30 minutes or more counted as one vote. Participants could choose between Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper, motocross rider Ryan Dungey, mixed-martial-artist Anthony Pettis, lacrosse player Rob Pannell, or soccer player Christen Press. Pettis won, becoming the first MMA fighter to appear on the box in early 2015.

10. THERE WERE SEVERAL SPINOFFS THAT DIDN'T CATCH ON.

Three different Wheaties boxes featuring Tiger Woods sitting together on a table
Tiger Woods's Wheaties covers, 1998
Getty Images

Faced with declining sales, Wheaties introduced several spinoff cereals during the 1990s and early 2000s, including Honey Frosted Wheaties, Crispy Wheaties 'n Raisins, and Wheaties Energy Crunch. None of them sold very well, and they were all discontinued after a few years. The brand kept trying to expand its offerings, though. In 2009, General Mills introduced Wheaties Fuel, a version of the cereal it claimed was more tailored to men's dietary needs. Wheaties Fuel had more vitamin E and—unlike the original—no folic acid, which is commonly associated with women's prenatal supplements. Men didn't love Wheaties Fuel, though, and it was eventually discontinued too. Now, only the original "breakfast of champions" remains.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios