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This Day in History - June 9, 1973, Secretariat the horse a.k.a "big red", won the Belmont Stakes and broke the record by more than 2 seconds for the fastest 1.5 miles on dirt. He also was the first in 25 years to win the Triple Crown.
This Day in History: 06/9/1973 - Secretariat Wins Triple Crown - HISTORY
American Pharoah ended a 37-year-old drought on Saturday with his resolving Triple Crown victory. But once the cheers softened and the rose garlands were put away, attention once again turned to the horse that caught the world's attention 42 years ago.
Secretariat is widely regarded as the greatest racing horse of all time. He even landed in the 35th spot on ESPN's greatest North American athlete of the 20th century list, ahead of Lawrence Taylor, Mickey Mantle, Billie Jean King and many, many more.
June 9th, 1973 is the moment when Secretariat cemented his place in history with the Belmont run that still brings tears to sports' fans eyes today. Secretariat won by an astounding, record-breaking 31 lengths. He came in two and half seconds faster than American Pharoah, which may as well be hours when you consider that Secretariat finished that grueling 1.5 mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds.
"Big Red" sliced three seconds off of previous track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. Jockey Ron Turcotte famously claimed he lost control of Secretariat during the Belmont and the horse sprinted for victory on his own.
"The Horse of the Century" was retired and put to stud that November. He lived in Kentucky until he fell ill and was euthanized 1989 at age 19.
An autopsy revealed Secretariat's heart was nearly three times larger than the average Thoroughbred's heart. It was estimated to be 22 pounds.
If you want your average half-pound heart to swell with pride, watch Secretariat's epic run:
UPI Almanac for Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Today is Wednesday, June 9, the 160th day of 2021 with 205 to follow.
The moon is waning. Morning stars are Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus. Evening stars are Mars, Mercury and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Gemini. They include Russian Czar Peter the Great in 1672 composer Cole Porter in 1891 composer/conductor/inventor Fred Waring in 1900 guitarist/recording pioneer Les Paul in 1915 Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. defense secretary/World Bank president, in 1916 journalist Marvin Kalb in 1930 (age 91) comedian Jackie Mason in 1931 (age 90) soul singer Jackie Wilson in 1934 sportscaster Dick Vitale in 1939 (age 82) writer Patricia Cornwell in 1956 (age 65) religious leader T. D. Jakes in 1957 (age 64) writer/producer Aaron Sorkin in 1961 (age 60) actor Michael J. Fox in 1961 (age 60) actor Johnny Depp in 1963 (age 58) actor Gloria Reuben in 1964 (age 57) actor Tamela Mann in 1966 (age 55) rock musician Matthew Bellamy in 1978 (age 43) actor Natalie Portman in 1981 (age 40) actor Mae Whitman in 1988 (age 33) actor Logan Browning in 1989 (age 32) U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez in 2000 (age 21).
In 1534, French navigator Jacques Cartier became the first European explorer to discover the St. Lawrence River in present-day Quebec.
In 1898, Britain leased Hong Kong from China for 99 years. The territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
In 1934, Donald Duck made his first screen appearance in "The Wise Little Hen."
In 1973, Secretariat, having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, captured racing's Triple Crown with a spectacular victory in the Belmont Stakes. The big chestnut colt, ridden by Ron Turcotte, was the first horse to do so since Citation in 1948.
In 1982, Gen. Efrain Rios Montt declared himself president of Guatemala. He overthrew the government in a coup d'etat in March 1982, and was himself overthrown in August 1983 by Defense Minister Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores.
In 1993, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito married former diplomat Masako Owada in Tokyo in a Shinto ceremony.
In 1997, recognizing the findings of The National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which unanimously recommended a new federal law banning the creation of human babies through cloning, President Bill Clinton urged Congress to ban human cloning, saying it reflects ''our humanity and it is the right thing to do."
In 1998, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar was sworn in as Nigeria's military ruler, one day after the death of Gen. Sani Abacha of a heart attack.
In 2005, after weeks of protests, Bolivian President Carlos Mesa resigned.
In 2008, Internet providers Verizon, Sprint and Time Warner agreed to block access to websites that distribute child pornography.
In 2014, actor Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time. "People need to be willing to let go of what they think they know about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. Because that doesn't necessarily mean anything inherently," she told the magazine.
In 2018, Justify won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown and only the second to do so while still undefeated.
In 2019, Ali Stroker became the first actor who uses a wheelchair to win an acting Tony Award. She won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Oklahoma!
From the archives: Secretariat wins 1973 Triple Crown, as written by Bill Nack
Elmont — It ended with a single stentorian burst of applause, with screams so sudden they seemed startled out of people, and they began when Ron Turcotte pushed Secretariat to ever-widening leads of 28, 29, 30 and finally 31 lengths in the Belmont Stakes
It ended, too, when Turcotte jumped off in the winner’s circle and groom Edward Sweat led Secretariat past the crowds from which long and sometimes braceleted arms reached out for the chestnut colt as he passed nearby. Hands slapped his muscular body. Hands shot up in fists. Hands were cupped over faces. Hand were holding hands and gesturing elation and awe.
It also ended when Sweat led Secretariat through the long tunnel from the winner’s circle to the saddling enclosure, the big colt sweating heavily, his eyes darting left and right as the thousands of people lining the enclosure sent up cheer after cheer and shouted his name over and over. “Spectacular, just sensational,” said trainer Elliott Burch as Sweat led Secretariat past him through the paddock and out the paddock gate to the tunnel between the racetrack and the stable area.
Secretariat had won the Triple Crown — he had won the last leg of the crown in record time, 2-1/5 seconds faster than any other Belmont winner had ever run the distance — so it was still ending, as if it would never end, as Sweat took him through the tunnel, still ending as crowds followed him on both sides, behind him, in the front of him, as he walked with that fine sense of bearing he has toward the barn where he would have a salvia and a urinalysis, routine tests for drugging.
Trainers gathered in the testing barn and looked at the colt as Ed Sweat washed him off with water, scraped him with a water scrapper, and the trainers laughed when George (Charlie) Davis — the colt’s regular exercise boy who was holding him while Sweat scraped — kissed the colt on his nose.
“He’s a great horse,” said John Campo, who trained the second place finisher, Twice a Prince.
“He is,” said H. Allen Jerkens, one of America’s top trainers, who stood outside the test barn fence with his daughter, Julie, just to get a closer look at Secretariat.
This was nearing the end of a long day for Secretariat, the close of a day in which he ran faster than any horse has ever run 1 ½ miles — the classic distance — in the history of the American turf. There he was, near the end of his day, drenched with sweat and water, an object now of adulation and awe, and a tired and thirsty horse whose day began more than 12 hours earlier, in a barn 100 yards away, in silence.
It began in the dark of the morning while he slept.
It was 3:56 a.m. and in barn five at Belmont Park a Pinkerton guard, Joe Fanning, stood framed against the lighted open doorway of trainer Lucien Laurin’s tack room. A motorcycle backfired on the Hempstead Turnpike, but the stalls of the horses in barn 5 quickly sunk back into quiet darkness, as suspended as deep breaths. Night watchman Clem Kenyon had already fed Secretariat his quart of early morning oats, hanging in the tub in his stall when John Harris materialized beneath a street lamp on his way to his job as a groom for Laurin. “This is going to be the big day,” Harris said. “We run four horses . . . we got a horse in the first race, and then we got Spanish Riddle and Angle Light and . . . there was a pause, a smile, and he added, “ . . . And the big horse.”
Down the shed row Secretariat was beginning the day in stall seven. Harris and the other stablehands were about to begin their days of the Belmont Stakes. Harris stretched, disappearing into a room nearby, and in the doorway light the Pinkerton vanished in the darkness toward Secretariat’s stall, returning an instant later to stand guard. Soon birds began rioting in the trees, the sky bluing, and horses stirred inside their stalls and it was nearing 5 a.m.
The colt was lying down then, resting like a good horse, when the 2-year-old Capito — half-brother to Riva Ridge — poked his head from neighboring stall nine and looked about. Other heads quickly popped outdoors. Riva Hidge looked up both ends of the shed. Then stable foreman Henry Hoeffner arrive, pulling up in his car, and in a second he was strolling up the shed toward Secretariat’s stall. As Hoeffner walked past the tack room, Secretariat thrust his blazed face and massive chestnut neck from the door, giving Hoeffner the eye. Hoeffner stopped, looked the colt up and down, and walked away. It was 5:12 a.m. and a beginning.
So the rhythm of the workaday routine began. Soon Edward Sweat, the groom of Secretariat, drove up in his car and climbed out in search of a cup of coffee.
“I’m ready,” said Sweat, sipping it as he walked into the barn. “I’m ready as I can get.” Sweat set the cup on the windowsill in front of Secretariat’s stall.
“Well,” he announced out loud to the shed, “Let me get old Big Red ready here.” The colt peered at Sweat, his ears pricked forward as he listened for the words, and he watched Sweat carefully as the groom picked up a fork and walked to the stall. There Sweat stopped, smiled as he raised his hands like an 1890 pugilist and said to the colt, “Come on, Red, get back in there so I can do some work.” The colt moved backward slowly, and Sweat ducked into the stall to work. It was 5:40 a.m.
So Sweat quickly got the colt ready for Secretariat’s morning stroll, his only exercise on the morning of the day of the biggest race in his life. Sweat brushed the colt down, rubbing his glossy sides and back and shoulders. “He looks good this morning,” said Sweat, walking toward the stall. “We’ll take him out right now. Hey, Big Red, here I am, here I come.” It was 5:57 a.m. when he finished working on him and the colt’s regular exercise boy, Charlie Davis, led him from the stall to the outside walking ring. And Secretariat put on his show.
Laurin himself arrived five minutes later, and the pace of the morning work seemed to pick up sharply, with Laurin going to the racetrack to see horses work, returning to the shed and office, stopping to look in on Secretariat when he passed the stall. And the colt gazed upon the hubbub as if it were just a mere abstraction. He backed into his stall, came to the door again, backed in again. The morning was swept up by rakes and swished into little corners by brooms, and he watched it all quietly. Sweat gave the colt a quart of oats at 10:30 a.m., three quarts less than he does on non-racing days. Secretariat stood in the back of the stall, as if brooding. “Now he don’t want to be bothered,” said Sweat.
Work wound down. Stablehands went to eat, the stable emptying and the life of the racetrack easing back. Only Sweat crouched outside the shed washing towels at 10:20 a.m., beginning the long wait for the end of the afternoon.
The colt was in his stall all through the late morning and early afternoon, alone but for Ed Sweat working in front of the stall and an occasional groom walking by and Tom Trotter Jr., the Pinkerton who replaced Fanning, standing on guard near the stall. The afternoon pressed on, with horses passing the Laurin barn to and from the races at the track.
It grew late. And suddenly Edward Sweat dipped into the stall and started to get the colt ready, and the colt knew it. Again, the colt’s rations for the afternoon meal were cut, the Tip-Off that he would battle with other horses in a horse race. Sweat moved into the stall, brushing him and rubbing him, putting a shine on the coat, a luster. Then McClain, the assistant trainer, with a serious set to his face, strode through the crowd that gathered at the open end of the shed and said, “You all are going to have to step back, please, step back now. The horse won’t be able to walk through with a crowd here.” The crowd stepped back. It was 4:07 p.m.
George Davis jumped suddenly on the pony Billy Silver, walking him to the door of the shed to wait for Secretariat and the post parade. Angle Light, the colt who had beaten Secretariat in the Wood April 21, was led back sweating and sandy from the seventh race, finishing out of the money in that race before the Belmont.
At 5:10 p.m., the loudspeaker in the stable area shouted that horses should be brought to the paddock for the eighth race, the Belmont. Then, out walked Secretariat and Sweat, with cameras clicking in the crowd. “Take it, Ed, take it,” someone yelled.
Ed Sweat nodded and smiled and walked Secretariat through the tunnel to the paddock for saddling. All around the paddock, the crowds applauded, cheered, with one fan yelling, “Go get ‘em, Secretariat.” It was nearing post time.
The jockeys came out, and Turcotte jumped on the big colt and the crowd cheered harder, more boisterously than before, and Turcotte smiled faintly, then seemed to stiffen his face. It was no time to take a bow.
It was time to ride in the horse race of his life a time to whip and beat all the horses, and to do it with the ease of breaking sticks. And it was a time to understand that some things are a long time ending, and for some they may never end at all. “He’s the greatest,” Davis said, kissing the colt on the nose.
Newsday sports reporter Bill Nack’s story from June 10, 1973, the day after Secretariat won horseracing’s Triple Crown at Belmont Park
Belmont Stakes: Justify wins the Triple Crown
Justify etched his place in racing history on Saturday when he became the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown. He joins Seattle Slew as the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes as an undefeated colt. Bob Baffert became the second trainer to have won the Triple Crown twice. He won with American Pharoah three years ago. “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons won with Gallant Fox in 1930 and his son Omaha in 1935. Gronkowski finished second and Hofburg was third.
Photos: The 13 Triple Crown winners
Justify becomes 13th Triple Crown winner with victory in Belmont Stakes
Justify etched his place in racing history on Saturday when he became the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown.
He joins Seattle Slew as the only horses to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes as an undefeated colt.
Bob Baffert became the second trainer to have won the Triple Crown twice. He won with American Pharoah three years ago. “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons won with Gallant Fox in 1930 and his son Omaha in 1935.
Justify’s victory came in dominating fashion with a wire-to-wire victory, winning by a couple lengths.
Justify broke alertly and went to a lead he would never relinquish. Stablemate Restoring Hope tracked him early, followed by Bravazo on the backstretch and Vino Rosso in the homestretch but none were a match for this colt. Jockey Mike Smith never really extended him and finished in a time of 2:28.18, almost four second slower than Secretariat’s record run.
Gronkowski was a surprise second, followed by Hofburg and Vino Rosso.
The Belmont Stakes is considered a difficult race because it’s 11/2 miles, a distance that none of the horses have run before and likely might never run again. But Justify, who exercised twice over the surface after arriving on Wednesday, showed he was every bit ready for the task.
Baffert didn’t get Justify until late last year and he was not raced as a 2-year-old. Until Justify came along no horse that was unraced at 2 had won the Kentucky Derby since 1882 when Apollo did it.
Baffert knew he had something special but he didn’t know how special. Before his first race at Santa Anita, Baffert confided to the track’s racing secretary that he might have the Kentucky Derby winner. If only he knew he had much more than that.
Justify won that first race by 9 1/2 lengths. Now knowing the horse’s potential, Drayden Van Dyke was taken off the colt in favor of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
Baffert and majority owner Elliott Walden of WinStar pulled a bit of subterfuge in telling everyone that Justify would then run in the Sunland Derby, hoping that they could enter her in an allowance race at Santa Anita. If they said he was pointed to that allowance it was likely that other horses wouldn’t enter and the race would be scratched because of too few horses.
Justify won that race by 6 1/2 lengths.
From there, Baffert had pointed Justify to the Arkansas Derby because he had another potential star in McKinzie set to go in the Santa Anita Derby. McKinzie suffered an injury and Baffert elected to keep Justify at home. It also gave him four weeks to the Kentucky Derby instead of the three if he had run in Arkansas. Justify won the Santa Anita Derby by three lengths.
He went to Churchill Downs as the favorite and romped home with a 2 1/2-length win over a tiring Good Magic and a gaining Audible.
The Preakness, three weeks ago, was probably Justify’s toughest and most impressive race. He got involved in a match-race type scenario with Good Magic from the start, but that took a lot out of him. Justify had enough left to finish the race and hold off an advancing Bravazo. Smith, at the time, said he took the pedal off the gas when he knew he had the race won. The winning margin was half a length.
All of that set up Saturday’s historic Belmont Stakes.
When Baffert won with American Pharoah, he ran the colt in the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, where he lost, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
First Justify will get some time off and then the ownership group, headed by Walden, will decide what’s next.
Here are the 13 Triple Crown winners (with jockeys):
2015—American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza)
1978—Affirmed (Steve Cauthen)
1977—Seattle Slew (Jean Cruguet)
1973—Secretariat (Ron Turcotte)
1948—Citation (Eddie Arcaro)
1946—Assault (Warren Mehrtens)
1943—Count Fleet (John Longden)
1941—Whirlaway (Eddie Arcaro)
1937—War Admiral (Charles Kurtsinger)
1935—Omaha (William Saunders)
1930—Gallant Fox (Earl Sande)
1919—Sir Barton (John Loftus)
Baffert picks up two winners on Belmont card
Justify hasn’t run yet but trainer Bob Baffert is already having a very good day.
He teamed up with jockey Mike Smith and owner China Horse Club to win the $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on Saturday. Abel Tasman, winner of last year’s Kentucky Oaks, made a powerful move on the backstretch and swept to a 7½-length win.
“She gets away slow and then she makes that big middle move,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s better to let her do it, if they’re going slow. If they’re going fast and she does it, that’s when I’ve gotten myself in trouble and that’s happened before.”
Last year, Baffert didn’t have a horse in the Belmont Stakes, but he and Smith teamed up to win all four of the stakes they entered. One of them was Abel Tasman, who won the Acorn Stakes, joining West Coast, American Anthem and Mor Spirit in the winner’s circle that day.
“Last year she was part of the Belmont Tour D’Force,” Baffert said. “It’s good to see these great mares back. She’s a champion and you want to see a champion run like that.”
Baffert’s other winner on Saturday was Hopportunity, winning the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for older horses going 1½ miles. Under Flavien Prat, he entered the stretch in third and then just bulled his way past the leaders to win by 2¼ lengths.
Hoppertunity is 7 years old and has earned more than $4.6 million.
“He’s like the forgotten horse,” Baffert said. “The stallion farms aren’t calling looking to buy him, even though he’s made all that money, so we’re just having fun with him.”
Bolt d’Oro finishes last in the Metropolitan
Bolt d’Oro ran a disappointing last of 11 horses in the $1.2-million Metropolitan. He broke alertly and flirted with the lead through the opening half of the milelong race, but he never could seem to get any momentum around the long turn and started to back up in the stretch. Jockey Florent Geroux did not push the Mick Ruis-trained colt through the stretch.
The race was won by Bee Jersey, who just got a nose down in front of Mind Your Biscuits. Bee Jersey paid $8.50 to win.
Bolt d’Oro had an exceptional year, winning the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. He got a wide trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and by some accounts, should have been awarded Horse of the Year based on his previous races. But Good Magic got the 2-year-old Eclipse Award.
Coming off a long layoff, Bolt d’Oro finished second in the San Felipe Stakes and was moved to first when McKinzie was disqualified. He then ran second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.
Belmont field: No. 10 Blended Citizen
Owners: SAYJAY Racing, Greg Hall and Brooke Hubbard
Last race: Won the Peter Pan Stakes
Jon White’s analysis: He is the only horse in this year’s Belmont Stakes to have raced at Belmont Park, winning the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes on May 12. American Pharoah is the lone Triple Crown winner who had not raced previously at Belmont Park, something Justify also is seeking to do this year.
Belmont field: No. 9 Noble Indy
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Owners: Repole Stables and WinStar Farm
Last race: 17th in the Kentucky Derby
Jon White’s analysis: A candidate to be a pace factor in the Belmont. He won the Louisiana Derby, but then finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby. Noble Indy, like Vino Rosso, is trained by Pletcher.
Belmont field: No. 8 Vino Rosso
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owners: Repole Stables and St. Elias Stables
Last race: Ninth in the Kentucky Derby
Jon White analysis: In an epic renewal of the Belmont, Vino Rosso’s sire, Curlin, lost by a head in 2007 to the filly Rags to Riches (who should be in the Hall of Fame). Vino Rosso finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby, but his three-length victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct gives him a license to do well in the Belmont. Todd Pletcher trains Vino Rosso. Pletcher has won the Belmont three times (the aforementioned Rags to Riches, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017).
Belmont field: No. 7 Tenfold
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds
Last race: Third in the Preakness
Jon White analysis: By finishing a respectable third in the Preakness, this lightly raced son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin showed that he certainly is not out of his league in the Belmont. The Preakness was only his fourth career start. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen trains Tenfold. Asmussen won the 2016 Belmont with Creator.
Belmont field: No. 6 Gronkowski
Owner: Phoenix Thoroughbred
Last race: Won the Burradon Stakes
Jon White analysis: He’s making his U.S. debut and first start on dirt after racing on turf and synthetic surfaces in England. While there is no doubt there will be those who put some money on him solely because he’s named after the accomplished tight end for the New England Patriots, it seems to me this is an arduous task for the equine Gronk.
Belmont field: No. 5 Restoring Hope
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Owners: Gary and Mary West
Last race: 12th in the Pat Day Mile
Jon White analysis: This colt, like Justify, is trained by Baffert. Restoring Hope finished third in the Wood Memorial and 12th in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs. While a Belmont victory would unquestionably rank among the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, it is not out of the question for Restoring Hope to get into the superfecta at huge odds.
Belmont field: No. 4 Hofburg
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Owner: Juddmonte Farms
Last race: Seventh in Kentucky Derby
Jon White’s analysis: He is sired by Tapit, who remarkably has sired Belmont Stakes winners Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017). Hofburg encountered traffic trouble in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby, but was full of run in the stretch to finish seventh before galloping out strongly after the finish. He has a Hall of Fame trainer in Bill Mott, who won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer.
Belmont field: No. 3 Bravazo
Last race: Second in the Preakness
Jon White analysis: He rallied late with gusto to finish second in the Preakness. When Bravazo ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, it actually was a pretty good effort because of a wide trip and the fact he had not raced since the March 24 Louisiana Derby. Wayne Lukas trains Bravazo. Lukas and Justify trainer Bob Baffert are tied for most Triple Crown race victories they each have 14. Lukas has won the Belmont four times (Tabasco Cat in 1994, Thunder Gulch in 1995, Editor’s Note in 1996 and Commendable in 2000).
Belmont field: No. 2 Free Drop Billy
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Owner: Albaugh Family Stable
Last race: 16th in Kentucky Derby
Jon White’s analysis: His worst races have been when they mattered the most. He has never finished worse than fourth except when he ran ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 16th in the Kentucky Derby. Maybe he will finish third in the Belmont. Dale Romans, who trains Free Drop Billy, has sent out a horse to finish third in the Belmont four times (Nolan’s Cat in 2005 at odds of 20-1, First Dude in 2010 at 5-1, Keen Ice in 2015 at 17-1 and Medal Count in 2017 at 24-1).
Belmont field: No. 1 Justify
Owners: China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing, Head of Plains Partners
Last race: Won the Preakness
Jon White’s analysis: I not only believe Justify is going to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and become this country’s 13th Triple Crown winner, I think there is a good chance he will do so by a comfortable margin.
Many are of the opinion that the greatest performance in the history of American racing was Secretariat’s phenomenal 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes to complete a Triple Crown sweep. Secretariat was a big colt who thrived on Belmont Park’s vast 1½-mile oval. Justify is an even bigger colt who likewise should relish running on such a large oval with its sweeping turns.
Justify’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, said earlier this week that Justify stands 16 hands, 3 inches tall and “weighs like 1,270 pounds.” When Secretariat was a 3-year-old, he was meticulously measured on Oct. 22 by Dr. Manuel Gilman, the official veterinarian at that time for the New York Racing Assn. tracks. Secretariat’s height was 16 hands, ½ inch and he weighed 1,131 pounds.
If Justify succeeds in the Belmont, he will be the first Triple Crown winner who did not race as a 2-year-old. If he is victorious in the Belmont, he and Seattle Slew would be the only two horses to win the Triple Crown with an unblemished record. Justify also would become only the second Triple Crown winner sold previously at public auction. Seattle Slew was a $17,500 yearling. Justify was a $500,000 yearling.
The Belmont Stakes pace should be much better for Justify than it was in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. NBC’s Randy Moss has pointed out that no horse in the 144-year history of the Kentucky Derby won it after going the opening quarter-mile as fast as Justify did. Justify was slightly off the lead in a first quarter that was run in 22.24 seconds on a sloppy track. Justify splashed home a 2½-length winner, with Good Magic finishing second. Good Magic was last year’s Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male.
The early pace was not as torrid in the Preakness. Justify ran the initial quarter in 23.11 seconds, again on a sloppy track. But while the Preakness tempo was not as rapid as it had been in the Derby, Justify nevertheless found himself embroiled in a prolonged tussle for the lead with Good Magic that continued all the way until deep stretch. After Justify finally put away Good Magic, he then had to hold off late challenges from Bravazo and Tenfold. While Justify won by only a half-length, it was to his credit that he got the job done without ever getting a breather at any point during the entire 1 3/16 miles.
If, as expected, the early pace in the Belmont is not as fast as it was in the Derby or Preakness, Justify’s opponents could be in big trouble.
Of course, in the 1½-mile Belmont, Justify is being asked to go farther than he ever has before. But so is everyone else in the race. While I would not say Justify’s breeding is the greatest for a 1½-mile race, the blood of numerous past Belmont Stakes winners is coursing through his veins, including Triple Crown winners Count Fleet (1943), Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977). These Belmont Stakes winners also are in Justify’s pedigree: American Flag (1925), Johnstown (1939), Bimelech (1940), Native Dancer (1953), Nashua (1955), Gallant Man (1957), Sword Dancer (1959), Damascus (1967) and A.P. Indy (1992).
One concern I have is Justify was not the 2-year-old male champion. Six of the last seven Triple Crown winners — Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and American Pharoah — were 2-year-old male champs.
Justify also is being asked to defeat more opponents in the Belmont Stakes than any of the 12 Triple Crown winners. Justify is facing nine horses. Sir Barton defeated only two opponents in the 1919 Belmont, Gallant Fox three in 1930, Omaha four in 1935, War Admiral six in 1937, Whirlaway three in 1941, Count Fleet two in 1943, Assault six in 1946, Citation seven in 1948, Secretariat four in 1973, Seattle Slew seven in 1977, Affirmed four in 1978 and American Pharoah seven in 2015.
Is Justify a cinch to win the Belmont Stakes? Certainly not. Spectacular Bid, one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time, was thwarted in his bid for a Triple Crown sweep when he finished third as an overwhelming favorite in the 1979 Belmont. Smarty Jones’ only defeat in nine career starts came in the 2004 Belmont. Big Brown’s lone loss in eight lifetime starts came in the 2008 Belmont.
But while anything can happen in a horse race, I look for Justify to continue his winning ways in the Belmont Stakes and complete a sweep of the coveted Triple Crown. If it happens, Baffert will join the legendary Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons as the only trainers to win the Triple Crown twice. Fitzsimmons won with Gallant Fox in 1930, then with Gallant Fox’s son Omaha in 1935. Baffert won the 2015 Triple Crown with American Pharoah, who prevailed in the Belmont Stakes by an emphatic 5½ lengths. Justify would be Baffert’s third Belmont Stakes winner. Point Given won the 2001 Belmont for Baffert in isolated splendor by 12 3/4 lengths.
This Day in Sports History: Secretariat Wins the Preakness
Secretariat is widely regarded as perhaps the most talented horse in racing history, and his greatness was evident beginning with the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat set a track record of 1:59 seconds at Churchill Downs by fending off Sham for the victory. His win at the Preakness Stakes was not as easy.
Secretariat got out of the gate slowly on May 19, 1973, but quickly kicked it into high gear as he ran the second quarter mile of the race in less than 22 seconds. With 5 1/2 furloughs left, Secretariat took the lead he would never relinquish, passing Sham and Our Native to win the second leg of the triple crown.
The victory at Pimlico Race Course did come with a dash of controversy. Secretariat was originally clocked at 1:55, one second short of the course record. But a dispute followed amid a disparity in times from a slate of timers. CBS attempted to run a side by side with Secretariat and Cañonero II–the winner of the 1971 Preakness𠄻ut the results were inconclusive. Secretariat was posthumously given the record in 2012 as the Daily Racing Form ruled he completed the course in 1 minute, 53 seconds.
There was no controversy whatsoever as Secretariat chased the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in June. He entered the race as a 1 favorite, and quickly demolished the competition, winning the race by a record 31 lengths.
Secretariat retired in 1974 before being inducted to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He also received recognition from Sports Illustrated as he was named the No. 17 athlete of the last 40 years in 1994.
Secretariat Wins the Triple Crown
On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes race, becoming the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years.
The son of the successful stallion Bold Ruler, Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970. He remained unnamed for a year, but was eventually named Secretariat by the stable’s secretary.
Secretariat began training in 1972. However, he was awkward and more interested in eating than running. Over time he grew more focused and fast and managed to finish fourth in his first race in July 1972. He then won five races in a row, including the Sanford Stakes and Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, and the Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park. During one of those races he passed eight horses in just a quarter mile and won by five lengths. At the end of his first year racing, Secretariat won the Eclipse Award for American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse and American Horse of the Year.
U.S. #1528 was issued for the 200th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby.
Secretariat then prepared for his most memorable season. He began 1973 with a win at the Bay Shore Stakes. Then on May 5, 1973, he competed in the Kentucky Derby. Although he broke last, he quickly caught up and eventually won the race by two-and-a-half lengths. Secretariat ran each quarter mile segment faster than the one before it and won the race in under two minutes – which had never been done before and wouldn’t be done again until 2001. As one sportswriter recalled, “No one had ever seen anything run like that… It was like he was some other animal out there.”
U.S. #2756-59 features different kinds of sporting horses.
Two weeks later Secretariat appeared at the Preakness Stakes on May 19. Once again, he started in last place. But in the first turn he managed to go from last to first and went on to win the race by two-and-a-half lengths again. His exact time has long been disputed, as the various timers all reported differing numbers. In 2012 the Maryland Racing Commission looked at old videotapes and listened to over two hours of testimony before settling on a time of 1:53, which was the state’s record.
U.S. #2155-58 features different horse breeds.
After these two victories, Secretariat prepared for the Belmont Stakes, the final victory needed to win the Triple Crown. In the coming weeks he was featured on the covers of three national magazines: Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. Secretariat quickly became a celebrity and household name.
U.S. #3577 – This Greetings from Kentucky stamp pays tribute to the popularity of the Kentucky Derby.
On June 9, 1973, Secretariat and four other horses competed at the 105 th Belmont Stakes in front of a crowd of 67,605. Secretariat was the favorite, though he was racing Sham, who’d finished second in each of the previous races. Secretariat and Sham began the race fast – ten lengths ahead of the other horses. But along the backstretch Sham could no longer maintain their break-neck pace and, exhausted, fell to last place. The announcer excitedly proclaimed, “Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine!” Secretariat continued to expand his lead on the other racers, eventually winning by 31 lengths (breaking the previous record of 25). He also ran the fastest race on dirt – one-and-a-half miles in 2:24 flat. This was two seconds faster than the previous record, and is still the record today, exactly 43 years later.
U.S. #3189g FDC – Secretariat First Day Cover
Many considered this race to be one of the best by a 20 th century North American racehorse. Secretariat was the ninth Triple Crown winner and the first in 25 years. He continued to race for the rest of the year, winning the Arlington Invitational, Marlboro Cup, Man o’ War Stakes, and Canadian International. In all, Secretariat won 16 of his 21 career races, and finished second three times and third once. At the end of 1973 he was again named horse of the Year and won Eclipse Awards as the American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse and the American Champion Male Turf Horse.
Secretariat retired after 1973 and sired a number of other successful racehorses, about 600 in all. He died at age 19 on October 4, 1989.
Penny Chenery was born in 1922 in New Rochelle, New York, and was raised in Pelham Manor, New York. The youngest of three children, she was named Helen Bates Chenery after her mother. Her father, Christopher Chenery, a Virginian, was driven by early poverty to become a millionaire, a goal he accomplished by 1928 by founding utility companies, first Federal Water Service, and then Southern Natural Gas Company. In 1936, he founded Meadow Stable, a thoroughbred racing and horse breeding operation at The Meadow in Caroline County, Virginia. 
Chenery had a love of horses from a young age, and learned to ride at age five. Believing her appreciation for horses was inherited from her father, Chenery stated, "My father really loved horses. I think a parent often communicates his love to a child." She shared many of her father's interests and goals, including business. She attended the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, a prestigious girls' boarding school with an excellent equestrian program. Chenery was captain of the Equestrian Team in her senior year at Madeira. Following her graduation, she attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, majoring in American Studies. 
After graduating in 1943, Chenery worked as an assistant for Gibbs and Cox, a company that designed war craft for the Normandy invasion subsequent to the invasion, she quit her job to join the Red Cross, at the urging of her brother. In 1945 she traveled to France as a Doughnut Girl to help war-weary soldiers transition to ships home at the end of World War II. 
When Chenery returned from Europe in 1946, her father was concerned that she had no employable skills, so he offered to pay her the equivalent of the highest job offer she could get if she would go to graduate school instead. Chenery decided to attend Columbia Business School where she was one of 20 women in a class of 800 men. At Columbia, she met John (Jack) Bayard Tweedy. At her parents' suggestion, she dropped out of school a few months short of her MBA to marry Jack. They moved to Denver, Colorado, where he practiced oil and gas law. They had four children: Sarah, Kate, Christopher, and John Jr.. The Tweedys spent much of their time in Vail, Colorado. because Jack Tweedy was one of the former members of the 10th Mountain Division in World War II who founded Vail Ski Resort in the early 1960s. He was later Chairman of the Board of Vail Associates. 
Chenery's life changed when her mother died suddenly and her father became ill in late 1967. He entered New Rochelle Hospital in April 1968 and remained there until his death in January 1973. Due to Mr. Chenery's advancing senility, Meadow Stable, the Chenery thoroughbred breeding and racing operation in Virginia, had been neglected in the mid-1960s and was no longer profitable. Chenery's siblings wanted to sell the operation since their father could no longer manage it. Chenery, however, hoped to fulfill her father's dream of winning the Kentucky Derby. The board of Meadow Stud elected her president and in 1968, she began the long process of cutting costs, repairing facilities and returning the stable to profitability. In 1969, she fired long-time trainer Casey Hayes. On the advice of longtime family friend and business associate Bull Hancock of Claiborne Farm, Chenery hired Roger Laurin to train and manage the Meadow Stable horses. With Laurin's help, the stable began to produce a few stakes winning horses in 1969 and 1970. However, in May 1971, Roger Laurin left the Meadow to train for the much vaunted Phipps family stables, so Chenery turned to his father, Lucien Laurin, as a temporary substitute. However, Laurin Sr. decided to stay on when the Meadow's homebred Riva Ridge brought in over $500,000 in purses in the fall of 1971. In May, 1972 Riva Ridge won the Kentucky Derby and in June Belmont Stakes, thus fulfilling Mr. Chenery's lifelong dream of producing a great horse. That same year, another Meadow colt, the two-year-old Secretariat had such a dominant fall season that he became American Horse of the Year which was a rare honor for a two-year-old. The following year, Secretariat captured the imagination of racing fans worldwide when he became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, setting records that still stand in all three races and winning the Belmont by an unheard-of 31 lengths. Both horses were inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.  When Chenery's father died in January 1973, his estate owed such a large tax bill that it could only be satisfied by syndicating the breeding rights to Secretariat and Riva Ridge to a consortium of breeders. Chenery made headlines by successfully syndicating Secretariat for $6.08 million and Riva Ridge for $5 million. Eventually the Meadow in Doswell, Virginia, also was sold to settle the estate. Chenery moved many of the remaining horses to Long Island, N.Y. and continued racing.
Although Penny Chenery gets the credit for managing Secretariat's racing career, Christopher Chenery was the genius behind the matching of Somethingroyal and Bold Ruler to produce Secretariat. In 1965 he set up the deal by which two Meadow mares would be bred annually to top sire Bold Ruler, owned by Ogden Phipps. Each year the owners would flip for the right to choose among the foals. The Meadow sent their best mare Somethingroyal to Bold Ruler several times and had already produced a stakes winner, Syrian Sea, a full sister to Secretariat. In 1969, Penny Chenery who by then managed Meadow Stable, lost the coin toss. This gave her the right to first choice of the foals in 1970, but that year there was only one foal: Secretariat. 
After Secretariat, Chenery continued to breed and race horses under the Meadow silks with her greatest success coming in Saratoga Dew, who became the first New York-bred horse ever to win an Eclipse Award when the filly was voted the 1992 American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. 
In 1983, Chenery, Martha F. Gerry, and Allaire du Pont became the first women to be admitted as members of The Jockey Club.  From 1976 to 1984, Chenery served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Also in 1976, she became a member of the Executive Committee of the American Horse Council, the horse industry trade association in Washington, DC. She also served as a member of the judges' panel of the Jockey Club, which bestows the Dogwood Dominion Award. In addition, she helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, an organization dedicated to saving Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter.
In 2003, the Arlington Park track established the annual "Penny Chenery Distinguished Woman in Racing Award". In 2006, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association honored her with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in thoroughbred racing. In 2009, she was awarded the Smith College Medal for extraordinary professional achievement and outstanding service to her community. 
In 2018, The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame named Ms. Chenery a Pillar of the Turf, the highest honor given to owners and breeders of Thoroughbreds. 
Chenery moved from Colorado to Long Island, New York, in 1972. She and John Tweedy divorced in 1974. In 1976, she married Lennart Ringquist, an executive in the motion pictures industry, divorcing in 1980..  She moved to Lexington, Kentucky in the early 1990s and in 2005 moved to Boulder, Colorado to spend her final years near her children. 
Penny Chenery died on September 16, 2017, at her home in Boulder, Colorado from complications from a stroke. She was 95 years old. 
Chenery was portrayed by actress Diane Lane in the 2010 motion picture Secretariat, released on October 8, 2010. Chenery herself appeared in a cameo role in the film as a spectator at the Belmont Stakes. She was the subject of several books and articles as well as the 2013 documentary Penny and Red (Landlocked Films) made by filmmaker John Tweedy.
The Longest Ride
Historical images from Belmont Park, the challenging track where horse racing legends are made — or not.
Credit. Barton Silverman/The New York Times
Just as it has for 13 Triple Crown champions, the Japanese white pine that is captured in the logo of Belmont Park will provide shade over the paddock as the contenders for the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes are saddled on Saturday.
Though there will be no Triple Crown on the line, or even close to the number of fans the race attracts in years without a pandemic, about 11,000 people are expected to be sprinkled in the cavernous grandstand and the bucolic backyard — Belmont Park’s refined version of an infield.
Whereas the mile-and-a-quarter Kentucky Derby typically has an overstuffed field and requires a bit of racing luck, and the mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness Stakes calls for durability, the mile-and-a-half Belmont, nicknamed the Test of the Champion for a reason, requires the perfect mix of speed, stamina and grit.
Sounds From the 153rd Belmont Stakes
The Belmont, first run in 1867 at Jerome Park in the Bronx and won by a filly named Ruthless, is the oldest of the three Triple Crown races, predating the Preakness by six years and the Derby by eight. Belmont Park opened in Elmont, N.Y., in 1905, almost 15 years after the death of August Belmont Sr., the financier and politician who established the race.
The main track, the longest in North America, is nicknamed the Big Sandy and looks more like a highway than a place for thoroughbreds. It circles a gigantic grass infield that, if it were in Manhattan, would have been packed with skyscrapers long ago.
In 1919, Sir Barton became the first horse to win the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont, a feat that became known as the Triple Crown. Since 1931 the Belmont has been the final leg in every year but 2020, when it was held before the other Triple Crown races because of the pandemic.
In 1973, Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown champion, winning by 31 lengths and prompting the track announcer, Chic Anderson, to exclaim, “He’s moving like a tremendous machine!”
When Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, he was the third horse to do so in six years, and it seemed that securing the biggest prize in the sport was no longer a formidable task. But after that, 13 horses that won the Derby and the Preakness came up short at the Belmont before the colt American Pharoah became a Triple Crown champion in 2015. Employees leapt onto one another’s backs, and fans danced and howled late into the night. A mere three years later, Justify repeated the feat.
While much has changed over the years — the song ushering the horses onto the track is again Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” after a one-year experiment with “Empire State of Mind,” and the grounds are shared with the Islanders’ new arena — much has stayed the same. A blanket of white carnations still greets the winner, Triple Crown hero or not, while the tree — plus the Secretariat statue that came after — still looms over it all.
Frances Perkins, right, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is honored for her fifty years of service to "The Girl With A Job" by the Job Department of Glamour Magazine. She is being presented with a scroll by Mary Campbell, left, job editor of the magazine, in a ceremony at a job seminar at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York June 9, 1953, attended by representatives of industry, government, retailing and education.
Miss Perkins told the members of the seminar that the attitudes of employers have changed drastically since the turn of the century and that a woman can now hold almost any position because of the advances that have been made in job counseling and guidance.