May 5, 2010

On This Date in History - Secretariat

37 years ago today, May 5, 1973, The great Secretariat stepped on to the Churchill Downs racetrack. For Big Red it was an ultimate chance for redemption in the nation‘s biggest race. The powerful colt who had been named Horse of the Year as a juvenile in 1972, was coming off a stunning loss in the Wood Memorial. The defeat, in which he finished 3rd to stablemate Angle Light, and Sham, the top notch colt trained by Pancho Martin, rendered the invincible colt beatable. Secretariat was still favored to win the Kentucky Derby, but there were many now who thought the Penny Chenery owned chestnut would struggle to win the Run for the Roses, and that Sham was just the horse to usurp his throne.

Sham would run a marvelous race in the Derby, but it was Secretariat who proved to be a champion for all times. Ridden by Ron Turcotte, he would drop far off the pace early on as Sham stayed close to the early lead. Secretariat steadily passed horses on the backstretch to become a menacing presence on the turn. Meanwhile Sham, with a quick thrust that would have proved victorious in almost any other Derby, moved in to take over the lead from pacesetter Shecky Greene. As Sham took command, there was Secretariat still gaining on the outside. The Lucien Laurin trainee collared Sham early in the stretch, and the battle would wage. The rest of the field had been shed away, as the two star colts flashed their brilliance. There soon would be no doubt as to who was the most brilliant. Big Red slowly put away his rival and powered home 2 ½ lengths clear of Sham. Secretariat was more than ten lengths clear of 3rd place finisher Our Native, and the final time for the 1 ¼ miles was 1:59 and 2/5, the fastest in the storied history of the Kentucky Derby. Five weeks later on June 9, Secretariat would put away Sham for the third time, winning the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner in twenty five years.

3 comments:

C T Coleman said...

I love this new wrinkle to ZATT! is this going to be a semi regular thing or the re incarnation of Who am I?

Brian Zipse said...

Thanks CCR...I will do this more often, not on any schedule though. Who Am I ??? is back today at 5:30pm EST.

LDP said...

He easily, IMO is the greatest of the TC winners. That does not mean the best horse ever, but that could be argued as well. It means that I feel he ran the greatest of any horse in the TC. Personally, in that point in time, anyone would be hard pressed to find a horse that could beat him.