On this day 40 years ago- Secretariat won the first leg of The Triple Crown by winning The Kentucky Derby. There were high expectations going into the race for Secretariat. The crowd was for the race was a record at that time 134,476. Secretariat was ridden by jockey Ron Turcotte. There were 13 horses in the field that day. There was another great horse in the field that day- Secretariat’s half-cousin Sham. Sham would finish second, Our Native would finish third. As for the great Secretariat- he set a record with the time of 1:59 2/3rd- a record that still stands for The Kentucky Derby. Secretariat stood 66 inches 168 cm and weighed 1,175 pounds with a 75 inch girth in his racing prime. Secretariat was owned by Christopher and Penny Chenery. His trainer was Lucien Laurin.
Sportswriter Michael Sullivan’s account of The Kentucky Derby.
” I was at Secretariat’s Derby, in ’73. . . That was…just beauty, you know? He
started in last place, which he tended to do. I was covering the second-place
horse, which wound up being Sham. It looked like Sham’s race going into the
last turn, I think. The thing you have to understand is that Sham was fast, a
beautiful horse. He would have had the Triple Crown in another year. And
it just didn’t seem like there could be anything faster than that.
Everybody was watching him. It was over, more or less. And all of a sudden there
was this, like, just a disruption in the corner of your eye, in your peripheral
vision. And then before you could make out what it was, here Secretariat came.
And then Secretariat had passed him. No one had ever seen anything run like that
– a lot of the old guys said the same thing. It was like he was some other
animal out there.”
ESPN ranked Secretariat the 35th greatest athlete of the 20th century.