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California Chrome Jockey Could Be Fourth Horseman of Financial Apocalypse

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In two-and-a-half weeks, a horse will try to win that most elusive of sporting accolades: the Triple Crown. Now, this may not seem particularly likely, given that it’s been 35 years since a horse was able to run the equine gauntlet, nor particularly relevant, since obviously sporting contests have no impact on financial markets.

But what if they do? We’re already in some serious trouble when it comes to athletic indicators, what with the Red Sox winning, the 49ers losing and February’s lose-lose Super Bowl. Can markets already making David Tepper’s brass balls look for a safe place to hide handle a first-time-since-1978 bullshit market bellweather?

Only 11 times in the past century—starting with Sir Barton in 1919—has a horse swept the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. On eight of those occasions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average came up lame, ending the year in the red.

Coincidence, you say? Well, maybe. (Okay, probably.) But note that, since the Dow was introduced in 1896, it has risen two out of every three years, a 66% winning percentage that is nearly the inverse of the results in Triple Crown years. And in most of the years a horse swept the three contests, stocks that had put in middling performances ahead of the racing season took nasty dives after it….

If California Chrome loses, he’ll join a long list of horses who couldn’t pull off the trifecta. Since Affirmed’s 1978 sweep, 11 runners have won the first two races but failed in the third. (A 12th, I’ll Have Another, was scratched before the Belmont.) Their connections missed out on first-place money in New York, but they may have been better off investing in the markets, anyway. In nine of those years, the Dow rose.

Whoa, Nelly! Triple Crown Winners Are Bad for Stocks [WSJ MoneyBeat blog]


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