Winning the Triple Crown: How Hard is THAT?

Winning the Triple Crown: How Hard is THAT?
Edith Wilson: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One to two class periods


The first winner of the Triple Crown of horseracing, Sir Barton, won the title in 1919, during Woodrow Wilson's last term in office as President.  It must have been an exciting event, coming so soon after the end of the Great War (World War I), and was the  beginning of a series of races that captures the attention of Americans yet today.


Students participating in this activity will learn about the history of the Triple Crown, and the horses who have won it.  They will also gain experience in synthesizing data, understanding complex information, and writing short biographies (in this case, of horses).

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.  Access to print materials about horse racing in general, and the Triple Crown in particular.


1.  Using the websites listed below, have students research the history of the Triple Crown, the differences among the three race tracks that comprise the event, and the eleven horses who have won the Crown.

2.  Each student should select one horse, or one race track, or one aspect of the history of the Triple Crown, on which to base a short essay/biography.

3.  After students share their essays, the whole class should discuss why it is so hard to win the Triple Crown, and what common characteristics the horses who have won seem to have.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended by having students create a Triple Crown Museum, or by further studying the history of horse racing in general.  They might also, as an art lesson, study paintings of famous (and not-so-famous) horses, including those paintings by Rosa Bonheur.

Sources & Resources: