Big Brown, the three-year-old colt who’ll be running for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park on June 7, was greeted by news photographers when he arrived at the Long Island racetrack two days after winning the Preakness. But another racing icon had already showed up, unnoticed: the Triple Crown trophy. It arrived in the trunk of a Cadillac STS, driven up I-95 by Ken Cook, the security chief of the New York Racing Association. It’s currently residing in what Cook will only call a “secure area.”
Every sport has a shiny, oversize ashtray that it forces on its winners, and this one is made by Cartier. It’s what you get for winning racing’s trifecta of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. A Triple Crown winner keeps the trophy, and Cartier makes a new one to replace it; the current version has spent the better part of 30 years under Plexiglas and atop an anti-tarnishing cloth in the Kentucky Derby Museum. When it travels, it does so in high style, in a silver cloth bag inside a “very expensive” box, also made by Cartier, says Ed Seigenfeld, executive vice-president of Triple Crown Productions, who often flies with it. No one has won the Triple Crown since 1978; Seigenfeld has made at least six trips with the current trophy, all fruitless. “It has had a consistent life,” he says. “It might be a little bored.”
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