California Chrome faltered at the 2014 Belmont Stakes, finishing tied for fourth and leaving Affirmed as the reigning Triple Crown winner in the world of horse racing.
Following Affirmed’s 1978 Triple Crown year, a dozen horses have won the first two legs (the Kentucky Derby and Preakness), but none could complete the trifecta. Four of those horses – Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Smarty Jones – finished second at the Belmont Stakes.
California Chrome becomes the unlucky number 13 in the list.
Affirmed, on the other hand, was one of three horses (Secretariat and Seattle Slew were the others) to win the Triple Crown during the 1970’s.
Tonalist, the winner at the 2014 Belmont Stakes and a non-participant in both the Preakness and Kentucky Derby, is the latest spoiler to find his name listed in the history books.
The result leaves the Triple Crown drought nearing the forty-year mark, with California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn munching on sour grapes.
To put this Crown-less stretch into perspective, let’s backtrack to 1978, and review the cost of living, as well as the big winners and leaders in both sports and entertainment:
1978: Cost of Living*
Gallon of Gas: 63 cents – We all know the kind of bucks we have to shell out now
Gallon of Milk: $1.44 – Nearly twice that number to get the cow juice today
Car: $6,379 – In 2014, you’d be lucky to get a “Ford P.O.S.” for that price
Average Income per Year: $17,000 – These days, the federal minimum wage hits $7.25, which would pay an employee just over $15,000 annually
Year End Close for the Dow Jones Industrial Average: 805 – Unbelievable, not even at 1,000
1 lb. of Bacon – $1.20 – Today, you pay two, three or four times that, and can get turkey bacon, tofu and all kinds of healthier non-pig options
Bread: 34 cents – It would have to be ten days old and covered in mold to cost this much in 2014
Stamp: 15 cents – More than three times that cost… plus, we barely even use them
New York Strip Steak: $2.39 / lb. – Man, I’m lucky to get a pound of ground turkey for four bucks
Average Cost for New House: $54,800 – Today, this might buy you a cardboard box under a bridge in a major city
1978: Sports Headlines
Super Bowl XII – Cowboys 27, Broncos 10 – Tom Landry was the head coach in Dallas and Mike Ditka was an assistant, while Peyton Manning wasn’t even two years old
Stanley Cup Final: Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins – As we all know, these two teams met this year, in a feisty, but entertaining Eastern Conference Playoff series
World Series: Yankees defeated the Dodgers – Another L.A.-N.Y. title series, like the NHL this year
NBA Finals: Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in 7 games – Today, the Bullets are the Wizards and the Sonics no longer exist
NASCAR Champion: Cale Yarborough – Now, he’s 75 and his last victory was nearly 30 years ago
1978: Entertainment Headlines
Popular Movies: National Lampoon’s Animal House, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Halloween, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – OK, so we had John Travolta’s first stretch of box office greatness along with the beginning of Star Wars, which now is owned by Disney and filming a seventh film. Luke, Leia and Han will be back, so it’s not ALL that different, right?
Atari: $199 – They had Space Invaders, while today, we have the Wii, PS4 and others. Oh, and 200 bucks for an Atari? Yikes!
Popular Music: Bee Gees, Commodores and the Rolling Stones – Stones are still kickin’…
Among the Top Songs: “Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees), “Shadow Dancing” (Andy Gibb), “You’re the One That I Want” (John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John), “Miss You” (Rolling Stones), “Just The Way You Are” (Billy Joel), “Dust In The Wind” (Kansas), “Take A Chance On Me” (Abba) – I had to mix it up, because if I went with only the songs at the very top, it would be a Bee Gees Greatest Hits album
Popular TV Shows: Happy Days, The Love Boat, CHiPs, Three’s Company, Charlie’s Angels, Little House on the Prairie and Wheel of Fortune – One show is still on TV, while another was made into a movie (and a sequel). Pat Sajak wasn’t the host on Wheel until 1981. As strange as it is to see, Chuck Woolery was.
Quite the difference when compared to today, with the exceptions being Star Wars and the Rolling Stones, as each basically has the shelf life of a box of Twinkies.
Either way, the legacy of Affirmed and his Triple Crown reign live on for at least one more year.
*Average prices, in most cases
Data Sources: NFL.com, MLB.com, NHL.com, NASCAR.com, 1978rebels.com, Wikipedia, thepeoplehistory.com, and About.com
I would like to know what gave anyone the impression that California Chrome was good enough to win the Triple Crown ? Just because you win the first two legs proves absolutely nothing at all . Never mind the fact that fans were simply in awe of a horse whose record was marginal at best .
FIFA has become a joke and its President Joseph Sepp Blatter might just be the most corrupt individual in all of professional sports and that is with due respect6 to boxing promoters Bob Arum , Don King and Oscar De La Hoya .
Interesting…maybe it is the storytelling. I do have fond memories of the one guy that used to call the Triple Crown races… “and DOWN the stretch they come!” – miss him, though can’t think of his name. The new guy bores me.
I’m going to be getting into the World Cup as well. It’s a shame the group draw that the US got… would be shocked if they found a way to move on.
Don’t get me started on the wrestling… never understood how people could get into it so much. It’s like watching a dinner at Medieval Times on TV.
As for horse racing, well… as I have admitted, I research the Derby for the hats, as they have gotten me reads in the past. Otherwise, once there is no chance at a Triple Crown winner, I usually lose interest, and more often than not, don’t even watch the final legs of the Crown.
Wait, are you trying to tell me that all this money I got for my teeth was a big scam?!?!?!?
Do you actually believe his act of contrition to be sincere ? If so , do you also believe in the ” tooth fairy ” ?
The guy finally apologized…. took a few days, and you wonder how he finally figured it out. Whether another came to him or it was THE WIFE. Sticking with the theme of the site, it was probably the latter.
Well, good question, and I’ll go read that one… haven’t had the chance yet. I guess for me, I do that not just with this, but any sport where history can be made. I want to say that I saw it happen and can tell the story when I’m older and have nothing else to do but tell stories about sports. More importantly, it would be nice for one the teams I root for to win a title while I’m legally able to drink.
Here’s my take on the whole Triple Crown thing, KP.
I guess I’m just trying to understand why we all root for it so badly.
Horse racing in the US has become a joke ! Colburn is a pompous @ss and if he cannot accept that the horse was simply not good enough by buying into the hype shows that this owner isn’t mature enough to accept failure .
A perfect fit to have that donkey logo for the horse, after Coburn’s reaction, isn’t it? Sad thing is, I get what he’s saying, and the top two finishers were horses that didn’t race in all of the Triple Crown races. The system is flawed, yes, but talk about sour grapes… and to the point that it makes me happy that the horse didn’t win. You want a great story, but you want a guy with a better attitude to come out on top.
California Chrome simply wasn’t good enough and in the aftermath of it all the horse’s owner proved what an @ss he happens to be with his complaining and whining . Is it any wonder has become an afterthought in this country ? No characters and the racing on the whole is simply pathetic in terms of caliber of the equines being raced .