Count Fleet – 1943 Triple Crown Winner
Count Fleet was a brown colt sired by 1928 Kentucky Derby winner Reigh Count. His dam was a mare named Quickly who had a talent for sprinting. He was born on March 24, 1940 at Stoner Creek farm in Paris, Kentucky. His owner was John D. Hertz who initially didn’t think much of the colt and tried to sell him twice. But jockey Johnny Longden convinced him to keep the colt. Little did Mr. Hertz know, that Count Fleet would turn into the sixth U.S Triple Crown champion.
As a two year old he lost several times before he broke his maiden. He gained respect with a six length victory in the Champagne Stakes in which he set a new track record. Then he followed this up by beating the best horses in the country and equaling the track record at the Pimlico Futurity. Then in the Walden Stakes he won by more than thirty lengths. At the end of the season he had won 10 out of his 15 races and was never out of the money.
As a three year old in 1943 Count Fleet dominated North American racing, never losing a race. Leading up to the Kentucky Derby he won the important Wood Memorial but injured himself in the process. Luckily, he recovered in time to take the Kentucky Derby by three lengths. Then he went to Baltimore, Maryland, where he dominated the Preakness Stakes, winning by eight lengths. Before the Belmont Stakes he won the Withers Stakes. Then he captured the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes by twenty five lengths, a record margin that stood until 1973. That year he was voted Champion Three Year Old and named American Horse of the Year by Turf and Sport Digest.
He did not race as a four year old because he injured his leg while competing at the Belmont Stakes. Instead he retired to stud having won 16 out of 21 races and went on to enjoy great success as a sire. He sired 38 stakes winners, including Kentucky Derby winner Count Turf, and Belmont Stakes winners Counterpoint and One Count. Count Fleet died on December 3, 1973 and was buried at Stoner Creek Farm in Paris, Kentucky.
Count Fleet had a successful racing career and breeding career. His record was 21 starts: 16 wins, 4 seconds, and one third. He never out of all 21 races placed out of the money. His total earnings were $250,300. And in 1961 he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. On the Blood-Horse magazines top 100 thoroughbred champions of the 20th century he was ranked an impressive #5.