“No one really knows for sure,” said J.B. King, a fellow horse breeder. “I’ve seen him go from 3.8 to 9.5 miles per hour. [It’s the] speed that we all thought he could do, but nobody has really measured him down that far.”
Still, there’s no question that the man known as the “King of Racing” is among the fastest horses in the world. A decade ago, at the age of 36, Klemetti was the youngest racehorse in history to win the Triple Crown (American Triple Crown, British Cup). He won that one as well. The next year, he finished third in the Triple Crown, the first time that had ever happened to a racehorse.
Fast forward to 2013, and that record has fallen to second place. His last Triple Crown-winning horse was in 2009, his last year on the track. He rode for Kentucky, then New Jersey, before heading home to racing, which brings its own set of challenges.
It’s a good thing, too, as Klemetti will miss races (and presumably, money) this spring because of an injury sustained just this past Tuesday at a race in New Hampshire. And there’s a good chance that Klemetti will never race again.
“At this point, it’s hard to imagine any possibility of an injury to him ever happening again,” said King.
A few years ago, Klemetti was a rising star in the industry, but not the next generation of his breed. Now he’s among the top in the division.
“In the early years of his career, he was pretty raw,” said Greg Anderson, the president of the American Racing Complex. “But with experience he’s grown with the company over the years and has become a true champion.”
As for Klemetti himself, who turns 37 in January, he says he doesn’t much care whether the triple crown is his last as a horse. He’s happy to stay for his next challenge: a second-place finish in the New York and Los Angeles Stables races, which start Feb. 22. After that, he’ll return to Florida to continue riding a stallion, this time a mare called “Queen Esther,” that he found in the spring of 2015.
As for his trainer, Peter “Paw” King, his thoughts are on racing, as he usually will after a victory.