Secretariat Given Record 39 Years After Race
Secretariat now holds the record time in all three of horse racing’s Triple Crown events after a video review determined his win in the 1973 Preakness Stakes was the fastest in history.
Secretariat is one of 11 thoroughbreds to win the Triple Crown, with victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes as a 3-year-old.
The Preakness had been the only one of the races in which Secretariat didn’t set a record and the Maryland Racing Commission said last week it would investigate the official timing of the race at the request of Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, and Maryland Jockey Club President Thomas Chuckas.
In a unanimous vote, the panel today changed Secretariat’s official winning time in the Preakness to 1 minute, 53 seconds, two seconds faster than his original recorded clocking at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course 39 years ago.
“I didn’t know if it was appropriate to cheer but I couldn’t help myself,” Chenery said. “This is a big day.”
The seven-member review panel used technology including “layered-on timing devices” and digital replays of the race, Michael Hopkins, the racing commission’s executive director, said in a telephone interview.
The previous Preakness record had been 1:53 2/5, set by Tank’s Prospect in 1985 and matched by Louis Quatorze in 1997 and Curlin in 2007.
The electronic timer used in 1973 recorded Secretariat’s win in 1:55, while two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form each hand-timed the race at 1:53 2/5, which would have broken Canonero II’s then-record of 1:54 at the 1971 Preakness. The official time was later changed to 1:54 2/5 –the time reported by Pimlico’s official hand clocker — because of “extenuating circumstances” with the electronic timer’s recording.
“It is wonderful for the sport to remove an asterisk and wonderful for the legacy of Secretariat and his fans, who believed he set the record in all three Triple Crown races,” Leonard Lusky, who represented Chenery at the hearing, said in a statement. “This was a labor of love and it was so important because it was Secretariat and the Preakness, one of the landmark events in horse racing.”
Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby in 1:59 2/5, setting a track record for the 1 1/4-mile distance at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and is one of only two horses to win the race in less than two minutes. He won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, by 31 lengths in 2:24, both records that still stand.
Horse racing hasn’t had a Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed won all three races. I’ll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year before being pulled out of the Belmont the day before the June 9 race because of tendinitis in his left front leg.