After American Pharoah’s impressive Preakness win, three of the announcers on NBC’s telecast were discussing the colt’s chances to complete the Triple Crown.  They cautioned of how much the Triple Crown races take out of a horse and pointed out how rested horses that skipped the Preakness have such a conditioning advantage in the Belmont.

This conversation promoted me to revisit the past performances of 1941Triple Crown winner Whirlaway.  Following is his 20-race schedule for the entire year 1941 along with the distance of each race.

February 8, 6 furlongs
February 18, 7 furlongs
March 22, 6 furlongs
March 28, 5.5 furlongs
April 11, 6 furlongs
April 24, 9 furlongs (2nd in Blue Grass)
(Between the April 24 and April 29 races, Whirlaway was worked 10 furlongs in 2:07 2/5)
April 29, 8 furlongs (2nd in Derby Trial)
May 3, 10 furlongs (1st in Kentucky Derby)
May 10, 9.5 furlongs (1st in Preakness)
May 20, 8.5 furlongs
June 7, 12 furlongs (1st in Belmont)
June 21, 10 furlongs (1st in Dwyer)
July 15, 9 furlongs
July 26, 10 furlongs
August 6, 8 furlongs (1st in Saranac)
August 16, 10 furlongs (1st in Travers)
August 23, 10 furlongs (1st in American Derby)
September 13, 9.5 furlongs
September 20, 12.5 furlongs (1st in Lawrence Realization)
September 27, 16 furlongs (2nd in Jockey Club Gold Cup)

The 20 races were held at eleven different racetracks and ranged from 5 ½ furlongs to 16 furlongs.  Whirlway’s record was 13-5-2.  He was not aided by race-day medication.

Winning the Triple Crown is difficult, no doubt about that.  However, by Whirlaway’s standard, the annual dialogue about the rigor of the Triple Crown looks like whining.

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