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Preakness 2013: The 40th Anniversary of Secretariat's Victory

Secretariat 615 X 400
The crowd gathered at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 1973 was abuzz with excitement, awaiting the ninety-eighth installment of the Preakness Stakes. Just six Thoroughbreds had aligned for the classic, but it was not the size of the field that mattered. It was the excitement surrounding the rematch of the one-two finishers of the Kentucky Derby (GI), contested just two weeks earlier: Sham and Secretariat.

The loud roar from the crowd as the bell clanged was a stark contrast from the actual break. Each horse had exited the gate cleanly, commencing their pursuit of the Woodlawn Vase in an uneventful manner. Secretariat trailed the field as the Preakness competitors galloped under the wire for the first time.

Glistening a deep red, the massive beast inhaled his rivals in a stunning move around the clubhouse turn, his face adorned in the mask of his blue and white checkered blinkers. In unusual, breathtaking fashion, Secretariat swallowed up his rivals in a fleeting moment, traveling from last to first in just a handful of his powerful strides. Spectators were stunned. Rallies like the one the fierce Derby winner had just executed simply did not happen so early on in a race.

Racing with vigorous strides, Secretariat led his opponents down the backstretch, the eyes of the racing world fixed upon him, their hearts in their throat as they wondered if he could actually prevail after the move he’d just made. It had been twenty-five years since a horse had captured racing’s elusive Triple Crown. If Secretariat could not sustain his astonishing run, all hopes would come to a crashing halt before he even reached the final leg of the three-race series.

But Secretariat was a man among boys. Around the far turn, his adversaries strove to chase him, most notably his nemesis, Sham. Unfortunately for Sham, Secretariat was within a zone that no other horse has ever entered. As his imposing strides carried him over the ground, Secretariat repelled Sham’s rally, resolutely galloping toward the finish line with limited asking from Turcotte. By a comfortable margin, Secretariat had won the Preakness in one of the most astounding displays of power ever shown by a racehorse.

Of course, Secretariat’s most famous performance would occur three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes (GI), but the Preakness was one of the most compelling components of the legendary Thoroughbred’s Triple Crown. But his jaw-dropping rally around the first bend is not the only reason his Preakness has failed to leave the minds of racing enthusiasts. Controversy surrounding his final time in the Preakness was not resolved until last June, confirming his mark to be 1:53 (the fastest time in Preakness history). Prior to this correction, Secretariat’s time had been recorded as an incorrect 1:54 2/5.

It has been forty years since Secretariat overwhelmed the Preakness. But his legacy has not left the classic. Of the nine horses entered in tomorrow’s second leg of the Triple Crown, eight of them are descendants of Big Red. Among those entrants is Orb, who looks to continue his Triple Crown bid. As was the situation with Secretariat, a Triple Crown drought looms over the Derby winner. But this current lack of Triple Crown heroes has endured for ten years longer. Thirty-five years have elapsed since American racing last crowned a Triple Crown victor. But Orb – carrying the hopes of owners Stuart Janney, III and Phipps Stable, as well as Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey – appears to be a throwback, a horse that would fit in with the bygone era in which Secretariat lived. A Secretariat-like performance is unlikely, but could Orb do what Secretariat did and keep the hopes of a Triple Crown alive? Few certainties exist when it comes to horse racing, especially Triple Crown races, but one thing is certain. The legend of Secretariat will forever reign at Old Hilltop.


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Older Comments about Preakness 2013: The 40th Anniversary of Secretariat's Victory...

@junebug... I agree... when it comes to the triple crown he is the standard period... I always do hope another will come along like him... No one even close yet
"the 'gang' of bullies who bashes everyone" is coming for you
Watch out, Junebug, the
I have never seen another horse capable of winning the way the great Secretariat did. None
Canonero won the Derby from way out of it then came back and wired the field in Baltimore. Orb has that adaptation of style that the top colts have shown in his 2nd Gulfstream line where he was close up on a 45.3 1:08.6 and was triumphant so it is his to lose.
The only shot these horses have to take the triple crown is that they are descendants of the GREAT SECRETARIAT!!! Good Luck to Orb today!
I just glad that the Pimlico folks "maned-up" to correct the clocking error and make sure BIG RED got the stakes record time. It still impresses me that after 40 years he holds all three fastest times.
I have followed the game since the time of Tim Tam and in all that time I have NEVER seen another move like that of Secretariat (not pushed either) around that clubhouse turn in Baltimore..How many races have you observed that were won on the first turn?
the most current BOTH occured after 73
I hope Orb joins Secretariat as the 12th!
And before you go off on some kind of tangent, although an anniversary is especially recognized on the same date every year, it's not necessary to have the same date. The Preakness recurs every year, albeit not on the same day, therefore it still fits one of the definitions of an anniversary event. Just saying.
Cathy, it was meant as 40th year. Since the race is always run on Saturday, it's very difficult to have the date just exact. Stop overanalyzing every detail like too many do on this site.
Hate to be a person who has to correct something, but Secretariat won the Preakness on May 19, 1973, the Belmont on June 9, and the Derby on May 5.
Greatest first-turn move in the history of the world!

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