Every year the oft-times fickle racing community falls in love with a potential Triple Crown Winner. And every year since 1978, this love affair goes sour when, for whatever reason--the would-be conquerer fails to pass the test.
But even those who don't know Jean have ample reason to love and respect the man: in case you're either a newbie to racing or a long-time fan who's lived under a rock for the last 40 years--Jean Cruguet is the only undefeated Triple Crown Jockey. Of the 11 racing teams that went into the Kentucky Derby in search of the Crown, only Cruguet and his mount (my all-time favorite Thoroughbred), the mighty Seattle Slew, went into the Derby and emerged on the other side of the Belmont, undefeated.
In an era before racing purses (prize money) had reached the stratosphere--Cruguet earned in excess of $51 million for the owners of his mounts. That's a phenomenal figure: the purse for the 1977 Kentucky Derby was a mere $227,500. Cruguet earned that money the old-fashioned way: by racing his butt off, and more-often-than-not, finishing first.