Camelot seeking England's first Triple Crown in 42 years

September 14, 2012 

  • Saturday

    St. Leger Stakes

    When: 10:40 a.m. EDT

    TV: TVG, HRTV

An injury to I'll Have Another on the eve of this year's Belmont Stakes deprived American racing fans the chance to witness their first Triple Crown since 1978.

In England, you have to go back an additional eight years to find that country's most recent Triple Crown winner.

The U.S. drought will drag on at least until next summer, but across the pond a horse named Camelot has a chance to complete the English sweep on Saturday.

Like in the U.S., the English Triple Crown is for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds. Unlike the American version, which is contested over five weeks, England's is spread out over the course of five months.

On May 5, the same day I'll Have Another was winning the Kentucky Derby, Camelot took the first leg of England's Triple Crown, the 1-mile 2,000 Guineas, by a neck at Newmarket Racecourse.

On June 2, Camelot extended out to 11/2 miles-plus to win the 233rd Epsom Derby by 5 lengths as the heavy favorite at Epsom Downs Racecourse.

And now, trainer Aidan O'Brien and his 19-year-old son, Joseph — Camelot's jockey — stand at the brink of history.

The final leg, the St. Leger Stakes at Town Moore in Doncaster, provides the ultimate test at 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards.

Camelot, again the heavy favorite against what many Brits deem a weak 3-year-old class, will face eight rivals in Saturday's race on the turf.

Aidan O'Brien told the Daily Racing Form that the distance of the St. Leger is a concern.

"You just never know until they try," he said of Camelot, who is undefeated in five career starts.

Eleven horses have won the American Triple Crown, most recently Affirmed in 1978. Fifteen have completed the feat in England, but 13 of those took place before 1919.

Nijinsky, in 1970, and Bahram in 1935 are the two most recent winners.

"The tension is only just bearable," O'Brien told London's Daily Telegraph newspaper earlier this week.

I'll Have Another bowed out of his Triple Crown bid one day before the final leg. O'Brien was taking every possible measure to assure his charge makes it safely to Saturday.

"Accidents don't happen," he said. "They're caused. It's a very fickle time. So many things can go wrong."

Even Camelot's status as the 1-3 favorite did not bring complete confidence from the trainer.

"Never confident, always hopeful," he told the Telegraph. "It's the way it has to be."

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