US racing welcomed its 13th Triple Crown hero last month when Justify took the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in style in New York, just three years after American Pharoah swept the classic series. The previous horse to achieve the feat had been Affirmed, back in 1978, one year after Seattle Slew.
The original Triple Crown is the English series of the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger, and no horse has successfully completed it since Nijinsky in 1970. In 1985, Oh So Sharp won the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger – called the Fillies' Triple Crown – something that had not been done since Meld, in 1955.
There have been horses who have won two legs, and since Nijinsky those have been Nashwan, Reference Point and Sea The Stars.
Nashwan, whom Timeform rated 135, bypassed the St Leger in favour of an Arc attempt that ultimately did not happen, whereas many believed that, like Blue Peter in 1939, it was sheer bad luck that denied the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Reference Point his chance at history in 1987. The Timeform 139-rated champion missed the Guineas due to illness. Sea The Stars, of course, did win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after bypassing Doncaster; Timeform rated him 140.
Camelot, however, ran in all three classics and, in 2012, he came so close to becoming the 13th winner of the Triple Crown (16th if you include the three who won the races when they were all held at Newmarket during World War I). A mile Group 1 winner at two, he won the 2000 Guineas by a neck from French Fifteen, trounced Main Sequence by five lengths at Epsom, and failed by just three-parts of a length to beat the ill-fated Encke at Doncaster. In between those latter two classics he added the Irish Derby at the Curragh, beating Born To Sea by two lengths.
Camelot won the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes and chased home Al Kazeem in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup from four starts at four, and he retired to Coolmore Stud with a top Timeform rating of 128. Now he is a star member of Europe's sophomore stallions, with seven stakes winners in his first crop, one already in his second, and a first Group 1 classic winner to his name.
That rising star is Latrobe, who beat Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior by a half-length and neck in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh last week. He was ridden by Donnacha O'Brien, the now triple classic-winning teenager whose brother Joseph trained the winner and father Aidan supplied the second, third, fourth and fifth.
Latrobe had been runner-up to James Cook in a mile maiden on soft ground at Leopardstown on his only start at two, was a neck second to Hunting Horn over 10 furlongs on softer ground at Naas in April, then chased home Platinum Warrior in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes before running away with a 12-furlong Curragh maiden three weeks before his classic success.
Latrobe, who was bred by Sweetmans Bloodstock, was originally bought by Margaret O'Toole for €88,000 in Goffs as a foal and then sold on to Joseph O'Brien for 65,000gns from Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket.
He is the third foal of six-furlong, three-year-old polytrack winner Question Times (by Shamardal), who earned her blacktype when runner-up in a listed contest over six furlongs at Newmarket as a two-year-old, and both of his older siblings are multiple winners.
Entangling (by Fastnet Rock) won over 10 furlongs at Yarmouth and 12 furlongs on the polytrack at Kempton last year, whereas that one's full-sister Diamond Fields won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes at Naas first time out as a four-year-old having been Grade 2-placed in the USA the previous season.
Forever Times (by So Factual), the grandam of Latrobe, won six times from five to seven furlongs, all on turf and mostly on good or fast ground, and that mare's other offspring include Group 3 Sceptre Stakes winner and Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes runner-up Sunday Times (by Holy Roman Emperor).
Classical Times (by Lawman), a four-year-old daughter of Sunday Times and, like her dam, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, won the Listed Cecil Frail Stakes at Haydock in late May and was third in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes over six furlongs on the tapeta at Newcastle last Saturday.
As you might expect of a daughter of Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes scorer So Factual (by Known Fact), Forever Times is a half-sister to some speedy horses, and although Majestic Times (by Bluebird) won a listed sprint, Welsh Emperor (by Emperor Jones) is the more notable of her half-brothers.
That 13-time scorer was trained by Tom Tate, he won the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes, the Group 3 Bentinck Stakes, and two listed contests, he chased home Toylsome in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, failed by just a neck to beat Caradak in another edition of that same contest, and he was short-headed by Group 1 Lockinge Stakes heroine and subsequent Group 1-producer Red Evie when bidding for a repeat success in the Hungerford.
Latrobe holds entries in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes and Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger and connections – he is owned by Lloyd Williams – have spoken of a possible Group 1 Melbourne Cup bid. Will he stay 14 furlongs or two miles?
If only his sire mattered then you would have little doubt that such distances would be within his compass, but the amount of speed on the distaff side of his family casts a shade of doubt.
He clearly stays 12 furlongs, however, and that suggests that it is not the speed element of the female side of his family that he has inherited from his dam but, instead, possibly the middle-distance side of his broodmare sire, Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway). That stallion, the son of a star mile to 10-furlong colt and grandson of an Irish Oaks heroine, gets his best winners over a wide range of trips.
It will be interesting to see how the racing career of Latrobe turns out, and with a Timeform rating of 119p he still has a lot of progress to make if he is going to hit the very top, but he is progressive, looks likely to stay at least 14 furlongs, and he could do well on the international circuit.