As General Crook is deep in preparation for an attempt to win the Sim’s Triple Crown, today I’ll endeavor to look back at past attempts at the feat. Rather than focusing on the lone previous Triple Crown champion, I’ll instead focus on the noble spoilers who upset the two horses in the Sim’s history who won the first two legs and then failed in the New Yorker (G1).
Three and two years prior to I Seek U becoming the Sim’s first, and thus far only, Triple Crown winner, Fleurdelis’ Down the Jazz and Capeside’s Buda With the Slew swept the Bluegrass Derby (G1) and Middle Jewel Stakes (G1) ahead of their pioneering attempts to sweep the classics. Alas, neither was up to the 1 1/2-mile challenge three weeks later, both finishing off the board and double digit lengths behind the winners–Fit Groom and Dirty Mat.
Both these horses raced in a previous era of the Sim where a week in real time was worth two weeks in the Sim, so it was not uncommon to see horses swing back on a week’s rest and even more often two weeks. Looking back on that era from our distant remove makes one think these Sim horses of yore were iron horses rather than just dealing with one of the interesting quirks of our early Sim world.
That said, the New Yorker marked the 12th and ninth starts of the year for our Triple Crown spoilers, Fit Groom in 2000 and Dirty Mat in 2001. Mcjonny’s Fit Groom finished third in the Derby as the co-favorite, finishing 7 3/4-lengths behind Down the Jazz and two lengths behind The Mick’s second-place entrant Alykurtz Cat. Two week’s later in Maryland, the son of Storm of Angels faltered, finishing 18 1/4 lengths back in fifth, with Down the Jazz and Alykurtz Cat completing the exacta again.
On to the New Yorker … oh, wait a minute, on to the Kasuda Yinen Mile (G2) a turf race for 3-year-olds and up a week before the New Yorker (Mcjonny was clearly channeling the legendary Woody Stephens and his gambit of entering Conquistador Cielo in the Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile, G1) six days before the Belmont Stakes (G1), winning both.). Fit Groom finished fifth in the Kasuda Yinen (won by Win’s immortal Enough Knock–it was only his 10th start of the year, which began for him in February) before traveling to New York from Japan to take the New Yorker a week later. In the big race, Fit Groom showed more early pace than usual, battling with Derby pacesetter Princess’s Ballot before drawing away to win by over four lengths from the consistent Alykurtz Cat. Down the Jazz settled in his usual mid-pack spot early on, then never really fired, finishing fourth while beaten by 13 1/4 lengths.
Fit Groom would win one more graded stakes in his career, fittingly the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, when he won the Owner’s Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths over a field that included Toplight’s Hall of Famer Cecil Roo. Fit Groom retired the victor of 14 of 55 races with career earnings surpassing $2.1-million.
Both Buda With the Slew and Dirty Mat won 10-furlong Derbies on the first Saturday in May of 2001. Unfortunately for Dirty Mat, his was run in Maine and called the Consolation Derby (G1). He won that by open lengths, with Murano’s pacesetter Heavy Metal fading to third. Dirty Mat made the Middle Jewel field and acquitted himself well, finishing just 1/4-length behind the Buda With the Slew with the pair earning identical 111 speed figures. Meanwhile that day, Heavy Metal had wired the field in an 11 furlong race called the Going to New York (G1).
Fast forward to the New Yorker and the forward horses are going fast indeed, with Heavy Metal and Dirty Mat locked in an epic pace duel all the way around the 1 1/2 mile oval. While Buda With the Slew tracked a bit farther back than usual then faltered, finishing 21 1/4 lengths back in eighth, Heavy Metal and Dirty Mat continued to exchange body blows, with the rest of the 14-horse field languishing behind. Heavy Metal led at the first three calls, with margins of a head, 1/4-length, and again just a head, before Dirty Mat slowly wore down Heavy Metal in the stretch, just getting up to win by 1/4-length.
Dirty Mat (Charismatic x Mr. Prospector x Boldwood), who had run his debut race that January, went on to win the Princess Cup (G1) in his next start and the Big Red Stakes (G1) on turf in mid-August, three starts after the Princess. All told, he won eight of 27 career races for earnings of just under $2.1-million. Both of these horses would try the he-mare mating game to no lasting effect on the Sim via their progeny.
So, best wishes to General Crook on the big day, but good luck too to the potential spoilers and all of their connections.
P.S. There is still time to enter your horse in a mile turf stakes before the New Yorker.