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A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

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There have been 12 Triple Crown winners in history.  The famous story of Secretariat captured our hearts in the 2010 Disney film.secretariat-sm

On June 9, 1973, with a spectacular victory at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat becomes the first horse since Citation in 1948 to win America’s coveted Triple Crown–the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. In one of the finest performances in racing history, Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, completed the 1.5-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a dirt-track record for that distance.

Secretariat wins Triple Crown Secretariat didn't just win the 1973 Belmont to cap the first Triple Crown in 25 years. Big Red redefined greatness in horse racing. Another colt, Sham, was still close as they headed toward the backstretch, but Secretariat broke free and continued to pull farther and farther ahead. The 31-length victory and track-record time of 2:24 marked Secretariat as the greatest horse of his generation.

Secretariat wins Triple Crown
Secretariat didn’t just win the 1973 Belmont to cap the first Triple Crown in 25 years. Big Red redefined greatness in horse racing. Another colt, Sham, was still close as they headed toward the backstretch, but Secretariat broke free and continued to pull farther and farther ahead. The 31-length victory and track-record time of 2:24 marked Secretariat as the greatest horse of his generation.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Stables in Doswell, Virginia, on March 30, 1970.

Secretariat as a baby in the fall of 1970 at The Meadow Stable in Doswell, Virginia

Secretariat as a baby in the fall of 1970 at The Meadow Stable in Doswell, Virginia

He was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness winner, and foaled by Something Royal, which came from a Thoroughbred line known for its stamina. An attractive chestnut colt, he grew to over 16 hands high and was at two years the size of a three-year-old.

Top: Bold Ruler, the sire. Middle: Secretariat his son.. Bottom: Somethingroyal, Secretariat's dam.

Top: Bold Ruler, the sire. Middle: Secretariat his son.. Bottom: Something Royal, Secretariat’s dam.

He ran his first race as a two-year-old on July 4, 1972, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Aqueduct in New York City. He came from behind to finish fourth; it was the only time in his career that he finished a race and did not place. Eleven days later, he won a six-furlong race at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and soon after, another race. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, moved him up to class in August, entering him in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, which he won by three lengths. By the end of 1972, he had won seven of nine races.

Trainer Lucien Laurin

Trainer Lucien Laurin

With easy victories in his first two starts of 1973, Secretariat seemed on his way to the Triple Crown. Just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, however, he stumbled at the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, coming in third behind Angle Light and Sham. On May 5, he met Sham and Angle Light again at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat, a 3-to-2 favorite, broke from near the back of the pack to win the 2 1/4-mile race in a record 1 minute and 59 seconds. He was the first to run the Derby in less than two minutes and his record still stands.

Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby 1973

Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby 1973

(Above: Ron Turcotte with Penny Chenery and Secretariat's trainer, Lucien Laurin, after winning the Kentucky Derby on 6 May 1973.)

(Above: Ron Turcotte with Penny Chenery and Secretariat’s trainer, Lucien Laurin, after winning the Kentucky Derby on 6 May 1973.)

Two weeks later, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretariat won the second event of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. The official clock malfunctioned, but hand-recorded timers had him running the 1 1/16-mile race in record time.

ecretariat" Preakness Stakes photo #1 1973 signed by jockey "Ron Turcotte"

ecretariat” Preakness Stakes photo #1 1973 signed by jockey “Ron Turcotte”

On June 9, 1973, almost 100,000 people came to Belmont Park near New York City to see if “Big Red” would become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat gave the finest performance of his career in the Belmont Stakes, completing the 1.5-mile race in a record 2 minutes and 24 seconds, knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. He also won by a record 31 lengths. Ron Turcotte, who jockeyed Secretariat in all but three of his races, claimed that at Belmont he lost control of Secretariat and that the horse sprinted into history on his own accord.

This June 9, 1973 file photo shows Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, reacting after her horse won the Belmont Stakes, and the Triple Crown.

This June 9, 1973 file photo shows Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, reacting after her horse won the Belmont Stakes, and the Triple Crown.

Secretariat would race six more times, winning four and finishing second twice. In November 1973, the “horse of the century” was retired and put to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Among his notable offspring is the 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner, Risen Star. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after falling ill. An autopsy showed that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of the average horse, which may have contributed to his extraordinary racing abilities. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of the Top 50 North American athletes of the 20th century, the only non-human on the list.

triple-crown-winners1

The link below is the source of the following chart of the 12 Triple Crown winners so far.  There have been three in the 1970s.

Triple Crown Winners of Horse Racing

List of US Triple Crown Winners
Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Breeder
1919 Sir Barton Johnny Loftus H. Guy Bedwell J. K. L. Ross John E. Madden
1930 Gallant Fox Earl Sande Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud Belair Stud
1935 Omaha Willie Saunders Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud Belair Stud
1937 War Admiral Charley Kurtsinger George H. Conway Samuel D. Riddle Samuel D. Riddle
1941 Whirlaway Eddie Arcaro Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm Calumet Farm
1943 Count Fleet Johnny Longden Don Cameron Fannie Hertz Fannie Hertz
1946 Assault Warren Mehrtens Max Hirsch King Ranch King Ranch
1948 Citation Eddie Arcaro Horace A. Jones Calumet Farm Calumet Farm
1973 Secretariat Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable Meadow Stud
1977 Seattle Slew Jean Cruguet William H. Turner, Jr. Mickey and Karen L. Taylor, Tayhill Stable/Jim Hill, et al. Ben S. Castleman
1978 Affirmed Steve Cauthen Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm Harbor View Farm
2015 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Ahmed Zayat Zayat Stables

A to Z on the Music Charts

Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) by Rod Stewart reached number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 on November 30, 1976 and remained for eight weeks.

A to Z At the Movies

Tied with Blazing Saddles as the top grossing film of 1974 and number 15 for the decade, The Towering Inferno had several major stars and was one among many films in the disaster movie genre of the 1970s.

The Towering Inferno, 1974

The Towering Inferno, 1974

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8 responses

  1. Ah secretariat a very big deal esp for those of us living in Maryland the home of the Preakness

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  2. I remember when Secretariat won as we were watching! And betting!!! We were into that OTB thing then and betting mostly on the trotters – often daily! It was fun when we cashed in big winning tickets! I remember we would but the racing magazine on Saturdays and argue all day over who we thought would or should win. If it rained, we checked out who was the best mudders!

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  3. Wonderful post. I used to follow racing when I was younger and I do remember this. I even took my boys to the Kentucky Horse Park in the 80’s..

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  4. Birgit says:

    I don’t remember anything about this horse except when the movie came out which I still have to see. I love horses, well, all animals. How long did Secretariat live? I actually have The Towering Inferno on DVD. It’s a hoot!

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