Looking back at the 1989 Triple Crown

With two recent Triple Crown winners with American Pharoah and Justify, it’s easy to forget how rare an accomplishment this feat really is. Before American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York, it was a 37-year drought to the great Triple Crown run by Secretariat.

During that long period without a Triple Crown winner, there were numerous near misses. The Triple Crown of course is one of the most popular times for wagering on horse racing, at sites like apuestas de caballos us, and the Kentucky Derby in particular is one of the biggest betting days of the years. One of the most exciting of the Triple Crown near misses came back in 1989, when racing enjoyed a great East vs. West rivalry with Easy Goer against Sunday Silence. That rivalry has racing fans on both coasts cheering on their hometown horse, while fans in the middle of the country got to pick which one to root for.

Representing the East Coast was Easy Goer, a royally bred son of Alydar who was named the 2-year-old champion the year before. From the West Coast was Sunday Silence, a son of Halo who showed some talent as a 2-year-old but only had a maiden win to his credit prior to the start of his 3-year-old campaign.

Prior to the Kentucky Derby, both horses fired off strong performances on their home tracks, as Sunday Silence won the Santa Anita Derby in California and Easy Goer prepped with a win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York. That set up the showdown in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, and Sunday Silence prevailed by more than two lengths over a muddy track under the famous Twin Spires. Then it was on to the Preakness, and Sunday Silence won again, but this time the margin was only a nose.

Finally, it was on to Belmont Park, a track that Easy Goer had run at many times before. With a Triple Crown on the line, Easy Goer defended his home turf and repelled the challenge of Sunday Silence to achieve racing immortality.

Even though there was no Triple Crown that year, the excitement of this great rivalry certain boosted the profile of horse racing and helped create some new fans.