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