SECRETARIAT FINISHING THE TRIPLE CROWN, BELMONT PARK...It is 7:58 a.m. and 6.5 degrees F. Patrick and Junior are in bed. There is about three inches of snow still on the ground. It is 54 degrees in Palm Harbor, Fla. That's like a 48 degree difference.
Remember I saw Secretariat win the Triple Crown at Belmont Park on Long Island in what ? 1973? With Dave Harmon, we drove down from Fitchburg Mass. Later on we saw a little speed horse, Onion, beat him at Saratoga in a much shorter race. I was at the rail for the Post Parade, and got to see this big horse, Ron Turcotte up, up close and personal. We used to follow the ponies in those days, not so much the flats, but mostly trotters and Pacers--Harness Racing--which was more accessible in our area. Yeah, I remember that.
Secretariat's win by THIRTY LENGTHS in the Belmont Stakes has gone down in history, in my opinion, as one of the top five races of all time... He set records in all three Triple Crown Records. The time he ran in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes still stand to this day, 36 years later!!!
For those of you with Rosy Cheeks or not familiar with all this, excerpts from Wikipedia:
Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American thoroughbred racehorse. Secretariat won the 1973 Triple Crown, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, and set still-standing track records in two of the three races in the Series, the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), and the Belmont Stakes (2:24). Like the famous Man o' War, Secretariat was a large chestnut colt and was given the same nickname, "Big Red."
The Kentucky Derby
On his way to a still-standing track record (1:59 2/5), he ran each quarter-mile segment faster than the one before it. The successive quarter-mile times were: 25 1/5, 24, 23 4/5, 23 2/5, and 23. This means he was still accelerating as of the final quarter-mile of the race. It would be 28 years before any other horse would run the Derby in less than 2 minutes (Monarchos in 2001).
The Preakness Stakes
In the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat broke last but then made a huge, last-to-first move on the first turn. After reaching the lead with 5 1/2 furlongs to go, Secretariat was never challenged and won by 2 1/2 lengths...
The time of the race was controversial. The infield teletimer displayed a time of 1:55. The track's electronic timer had malfunctioned because of damage caused by members of the crowd crossing the track to reach the infield. The Pimlico Race Course clocker, E.T. McLean Jr., announced a hand time of 1:54 2/5. However, two Daily Racing Form clockers claimed the time was 1:53 2/5 which would have broken the track record (1:54 by Cañonero II). Tapes of Secretariat and Cañonero II were played side by side by CBS and Secretariat got to the finish line first on tape, though this is not a reliable method of timing a horse race. The Maryland Jockey Club, which managed the Pimlico racetrack and is responsible for maintaining Preakness records, discarded both the electronic and Daily Racing Form times and recognized 1:54 2/5 as the official time. However, the Daily Racing Form, for the first time in history, printed its own clocking of 1:53 2/5 next to the official time in the chart of the race.
As Secretariat prepared for the Belmont Stakes, he appeared on the covers of three national magazines, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. He had become a national celebrity.
The Belmont Stakes
Secretariat's statue at Belmont Park
Only four horses joined Secretariat for the June 9, 1973, running of the Belmont Stakes, including Sham, who had finished second in both the Derby and Preakness...
Before a crowd of 67,605, Secretariat and Sham set a fast early pace, opening ten lengths on the rest of the field. After the 6 furlong mark, Sham began to tire, ultimately finishing last. Secretariat astonished spectators by continuing on the fast pace and opening up a larger and larger margin on the field. In the stretch, Secretariat opened a 1/16 mile lead on the rest of the field.
At the finish, he won by 31 lengths (breaking the margin-of-victory record set by Triple Crown winner Count Fleet, who won by 25 lengths) and ran the fastest 1 1/2 miles on dirt in history, 2:24 flat, which broke the stakes record by more than 2 seconds. This works out to a speed of 37.5 mph for his entire performance.
Secretariat's world record still stands, and in fact, no other horse has ever broken 2:25 for 1 1/2 miles on dirt.
Bettors holding 5,617 winning parimutuel tickets on Secretariat never redeemed them, presumably keeping them as souvenirs. TRADER RICK HAS ONE!!!
Secretariat became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and the 9th in history.
Altogether, Secretariat won 16 of his 21 career races, with three seconds and one third, for an in the money finish in 20 of 21 starts, and total earnings of $1,316,808.
While it won't go down in history as important a Sports Event, I also had the privilege recently to witness in person the University of Florida Gators win the BCS Championship for the second time in three years at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
More later, maybe.
There were 1.5 million people at the
and only 14 missed work.