JC / Railbird

Broken String

When William Nack visited 1943 Triple Crown winner Count Fleet in 1973:

His groom reached over and patted the Count on the neck. “There has always been a living Triple Crown winner,” the groom said. “Ever since Sir Barton won. You could always go visit one, like you’re visiting this horse today.”

The groom asked me if I knew Secretariat’s people. “I saw the horse and his groom, Ed Sweat, just this morning,” I told him.

“Next time you see him, you tell him that there has always been a Triple Crown winner alive and he better win it this year or that string will be broken,” he said. “I don’t think this old horse is gonna make it to the end of the year.”

Next morning, I told Ed Sweat that story of Count Fleet. He whistled softly. “That horse is still alive?” Eddie said. “Don’t you worry. We got it covered.”

There are no living Triple Crown winners now. Affirmed died in 2001, Seattle Slew in 2002. Whoever wins the title next will be starting a new string.