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Major Race Three-Peat Winners

Date: 11/02/05

On November 1st Makybe Diva made history when she won the Melbourne Cup for the third consecutive year, the first horse to ever achieve this feat. The 7-year-old mare was retired after the race with a career record of 36 starts, 15 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds with earnings of $14,526,685 Australian, just over $10 million US. She made a career of beating the boys in all the big races in Australia and currently holds the record for the most money earned by any horse in Australasia.

Winning any race three times is an amazing feat, especially considering that few horses race enough years to even have the opportunity to try. Horses who race in top company are even less likely to have a career long enough as they are more likely to be retired to the breeding farm early.

So just how many horses have managed to win a major racing event three times? I spent some time with my stats books and came up with this short list. Remember, many major races are restricted by age, such as the Kentucky Derby, so only races open to older horses qualify. Doubling up seems to be pretty easy compared to a three-peat as most major events have never had a three-time winner. There was only two four-time winners (Exterminator, Forego) and one five-time winner (Kelso), and all of these were geldings who raced to an advanced age. Note that geldings are not allowed to race in Group 1 races in Europe, which probably has something to do with how few three-peat winners they have.

Melbourne Cup, 2 miles, 3-year-olds and up, turf, Flemington, AUS
Makybe Diva 2003, 2004, 2005

Ascot Gold Cup, 2 1/2 miles, 4-year-olds and up, turf, Ascot, UK
Sagaro 1975, 1976, 1977

Nunthorpe Stakes, 5 furlongs, 2-year-olds and up, turf, York, UK
Sharpo 1980, 1981, 1982

Brooklyn Handicap, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Belmont Park, USA
Discovery 1934, 1935, 1936
Forego 1974, 1975, 1976 (distance 1 1/4 miles twice and 1 3/16 miles)

Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, turf, Hollywood Park, USA
John Henry 1980, 1981, 1984 (distance 1 1/2 miles, called Hollywood Turf Invitational)

Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, turf, Santa Anita, USA
John Henry 1980, 1981, 1982 (distance 1 1/2 miles, called Oak Tree Invitational)

Hawthorne Gold Cup, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Hawthorne Racecourse, USA
Sun Beau 1929-1931

Hollywood Gold Cup, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Hollywood Park, USA
Native Diver 1965, 1966, 1967

Hollywood Turf Express, 5 1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up, turf, Hollywood Park, USA
Answer Do 1990, 1991, 1992

Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Belmont Park, USA
Kelso 1960 - 1964 (5 times, distance 2 miles)

Matriarch, 1 miles, fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up, turf, Hollywood Park, USA
Flawlessly 1991, 1992, 1993

Metropolitan Handicap, 1 mile, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Belmont Park, USA
Devil Diver 1943, 1944, 1945

San Diego Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Del Mar, USA
Native Diver 1963, 1964, 1965

Santa Barbara Handicap, 1 1/4 miles, fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up, turf, Santa Anita, USA
Megahertz 2003, 2004, 2005

Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Saratoga, USA
Exterminator 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922
Exterminator had an additional three-peat in the "Pimlico Cup" according to his past performances but apparently it is no longer run as it wasn't in my stats book

Whitney Handicap, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Saratoga, USA
Discovery 1934, 1935, 1936
Kelso 1961, 1963, 1965

Woodward, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up, dirt, Belmont Park, USA
Kelso 1961, 1962, 1963
Forego 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977

Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, 2 5/8 miles, Far Hills, USA
McDynamo 2003, 2004, 2005

Champion Hurdle, 2 1/16 miles, 5-year-olds and up, Cheltenham, UK
Persian War 1968, 1969, 1970
Istabraq 1998, 1999, 2000

Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeplechase, 3 1/4 miles, 6-year-olds and up, Cheltenham, UK
Best Mate 2002, 2003, 2004

Grand National Steeplechase, 4 1/2 miles, 7-year-olds and up, Aintree, UK
Red Rum 1973, 1974, 1977 (2nd in 2 1975 and 1976)

Grand Steeplechase de Paris, 3 5/8 miles, 6-year-olds and up, Auteuil, FR
Katko 1988, 1989, 1990

Irish Champion Hurdle, 2 miles, 5-year-olds and up, Leopardstown, IE
Istabraq 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001

Breeders' Cup Dual Winners, there are no 3 time winners

Famous Race Horses

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