There are people on this site who post ludicrous versions of the past with nothing to back them up, t_v. I'll pass on living in fantasy land or subscribing to revisionism.
Here's what Secretariat.com has to say about the race - Out of the gate, Secretariat dropped back to the back of the small, six-horse field. That’s where everyone expected him to be. But they didn’t expect what happened next. Turcotte, sensing the pace was slow, was not about to allow the leaders and especially rival Sham to dawdle along and have plenty saved for the end. As the field settled into the first turn, all hoping to relax for the long 1 3/16th miles race, Turcotte made his daring, early move, from last to first, three-wide and rolling. The Daily Racing Form Chart Caller described the action:
“Secretariat broke well and was eased back and relaxed nicely as the field passed the stands for the first time. He was guided outside two rivals entering the clubhouse turn and responding when Turcotte moved his hands on the reins, made a spectacular run to take command entering the backstretch.”
Turcotte’s bold move was meant to seize the moment, place the destiny of the horse in his own hands. But it was risky. An early speed burst might bite into the colt’s well of stamina. Rival riders poised to reel in Big Red in the latter stages, if he faltered. However, there was no falter in Secretariat.
This similar description from Scott Jagow of the Paulick Report - The chart caller described what Turcotte did next: “Secretariat was guided outside two rivals entering the clubhouse turn and responding when Turcotte moved his hands on the reins, made a spectacular run to take command entering the backstretch.”
Revisionists just making it up as they go along live in some other neighborhood...
On a lighter side, here's a recollection of the Belmont from Hal Block of the L. A. Times - Secretariat simply ran away from the others. "I thought, I can't be that far in front," Turcotte said. "I knew he was traveling pretty fast. I looked under my arm and all I saw was shadows. My curiosity got the best of me."
As Secretariat widened the lead to 10, 15, 20, eventually 31 lengths, Turcotte peeked back over his shoulder to see where the rest of the field was.
He found them--up the track. Far up the track. "They looked like they were in the ninth race," he said.
I've talked to Ron Turcotte about horses he has ridden, and consider him a soft spoken, humble guy who doesn't get into bragging about his riding ability. There is no question that in the Belmont, Ronnie sat chilly and allowed Secretariat to perform the most magnificent dirt race on American soil. This was not the case in the Preakness, where the pace started out sluggish. Turcotte pressed the go button and Secretariat made a move not seen before or since at Pimlico. The rider was not a mere passenger that day. He was the one who made the risky decision with a slight wrist movement on the reins to pass the field early. Secretariat did not know it was time to advance from last to the lead on the first turn. The jockey did, recognizing he had enough horse under him to finish strong.
Just by coincidence, I passed by Meadow Farm this afternoon, saw the historic stables and wondered what Penny Chenery must have thought having Riva and Secretariat back to back. AP had horses on his heels to push him along the whole way. In 1973 it was all Ron Turcotte, the horse and the clock the last 6 furlongs. The most magnificent dirt race on American soil.
A debonair trainer and his gallant Hall of Fame champion.
I read on Blood-Horse that Ben's Cat would be wintering at Stephanie Nixon's Virginia farm. Being a fan of the hard knocking gelding, I wrote Stephanie and was invited to her Horseshoe Hill Farm in nearby Ashland. My introduction to the King Leatherbury star came as he and his winter time stablemate from Aqueduct flew past along the fence line. The horses enjoyed carrots that my work colleague and racing friend Stuart and I brought them. Many pictures and video were taken as we fed a champion racehorse for the first time. Ben likes to stand in the farm pond chest deep and enjoys getting dirty, but was cleaned up for our visit and looked healthy. The farms independent minded ewe provided entertainment, after she was locked in the feed room and proceeded to head butt the door wide open. Stephanie then showed us the discriminating taste that her stallion Near The Limit has for Coca-Cola in a feed pail, as he turns up his nose at Pepsi.
The experienced trainer is very active in the local Thoroughbred Retirement Fund program that matches retired horses from the track with inmates at James River Work Center. She hired a graduate of the program, Jason, whom we met and
learned that Secretariat's grandson Covert Action is a famous resident of the work center. I heard Richie Migliore twice that morning on At The Races imploring me to support this worthy program. So, of course, I had to give Stephanie a donation for the TRF. Chatting with my manager at our insurance company this week, I learned that Heather was the correctional counselor who brought the TRF program to James River in 2007, and coined the phrase Greener Pastures. A small world indeed.
Gulch was speedy and another I wanted to see, but will miss on a trip to Old Friends. One of many good ones beaten by Personal Ensign, this time in a dramatic Whitney duel down the stretch.
Big congratulations to Stellar Wind on her Eclipse award. She is the last foal from the last mare bred by Keswick Stables. Peggy Augustus and family sold many good ones over the years, including Sabin, Simply Majestic, Alwuhush, Eishin Guyman, Johnny D, and Northern Dancer's Dam Natalma. The Hronis Racing filly is allowing this Virginia farm to go out with a bang.
Carry Back, sired by Saggy out of Joppy, was bred to run in cheap claiming races, but ended up as a rags to riches champion. He actually stood stud between his four and five year old campaigns. CB's progeny was as undistinguished as his parents, with the exception, of course, Saggy's win over Citation at Havre de Grace. Here's a picture of Saggy 25 years after Citation's stunning defeat, with Joe Pons of Country Life Farm, where Saggy and Joppy were bred to produce your early 60's hero. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/aberdeen-havre-de-grace/ph-ag-saggy-beats-citation-0412-20130411-story.html
In Tom Fool's undefeated four year old season, he had the experience of Man o' War, being so dominant on the track that he scared most owners away. His last four races had fields so light that they were all non betting contests. Track management of the Sysonby Mile doubled the purse in hopes of bringing Native Dancer and Tom Fool together. The younger horse was not sound, and the two
best thoroughbreds of 1953 never met. Tom Fool's great grandsire Equipoise and son Buckpasser had striking conformation. They were superb runners as well, ranked #21 and #14 respectively by Blood-Horse. Tom Fool is the second of four to win the Handicap Triple Crown, and is listed at #11 by Blood-Horse.
You are right, Pebbles. Irish thoroughbred High Chaparral started once in the states at three and again once at four. Winner of the Breeders Cup Turf both times and the first to repeat, he dead heated with Johar in his last race. One win here each year earned him the Outstanding Male Turf Horse award. 13: 10-1-2 and a successful sire, another good one trained by Aidan O'Brien.
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