There is a video on YouTube vaguely entitled “Horse Race.”
It was uploaded three years ago and has a mere 119 views.
The 9:36 black-and-white video with scratchy sound has occasionally been viewed by New York City FC defender Chris Wingert. This video is highlights of the 1946 Triple Crown won by Wingert’s grandfather, Warren Mehrtens, while riding Assault.
“Once in a while I’ll watch it,” Wingert said. “Growing up I kind of always knew my grandfather winning the Triple Crown was a thing. The pictures were up. It was talked about a little bit. When you grow up you realize how unique and special it is, though. He accomplished something athletically I’ll never accomplish. It was pretty cool for sure.”
In fact, Mehrtens’ feat was the seventh-ever occurrence at that time. American Pharoah became the 12th horse to accomplish the feat after winning the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
|2015||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza|
|1977||Seattle Slew||Jean Cruguet|
|1943||Count Fleet||Johnny Longden|
|1937||War Admiral||Charley Kurtsinger|
|1930||Gallant Fox||Earl Sande|
|1919||Sir Barton||John Loftus|
“It would have been really awesome to go, but we had a game,” Wingert said. “It’s cool and I think it’s great American Pharoah won because it brings it to light a little bit. It’s pretty special.”
A native of Brooklyn, Mehrtens began his riding career in 1939 under the guidance of famed trainer Max Hirsch.
At 26 years old, Mehrtens rode Assault – which was given the nickname “The Club-Footed Comet” due to his misshapen hoof – to horse racing history. Coming in at 8-1 odds, Assault ran away with the Kentucky Derby by eight lengths. The horse won the Preakness Stakes by a neck over Lord Boswell. Lord Boswell was the favorite heading into the 1946 Belmont, but Mehrtens and Assault won by three lengths.
“My grandfather was really modest and wouldn’t talk about it unless someone brought it up,” Wingert said of the rare accomplishment. “He’s a storyteller, but about other funny things. He was a lot of fun to be around. He wasn’t a grumpy old man. He was the opposite.
“He was still a really good athlete when he was old. Right up until he died he was playing a ton of tennis and a ton of golf. He was really active. He was a really good athlete.”
Mehrtens passed away at the age of 77 in 1998. Over a 12-year riding career, he rode 614 winners and earned more than $3.5 million in purses.