Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Secretariat: the Preakness Stakes

I also painted Secretariat in the winner's circle in Baltimore.
Two weeks after his impressive win at Churchill Downs, Secretariat advanced to the the Preakness Stakes,  the second Triple Crown race which is held in Baltimore, Maryland. Many people expected another Kentucky Derby where he would beat the track record.

 Secretariat, as was to be expected, began the race at the back of the field of six. Each of the horses were being directed by their jockeys to go slow to preserve energy for the 1 3/16 mile long race ahead of them. However, Ron Turcotte, Secretariat's jockey, had different plans.

 Instead of lingering at the back of the pack as usual, he urged Secretariat to make the risky maneuver of taking an early lead and attempting to hold first place until the end of the race. At the first turn, Secretariat was 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the second-place horse, Sham.  The other riders remained ready to burst ahead should Secretariat falter. Secretariat did not falter, and he ended up holding first place from start to finish. He beat Sham by 2 1/2 lengths.

 Even though Secretariat had won the race, a great controversy arose afterwards. The large digital clock showed his time to be 1:55--one second slower than that of Canonero, who at the time held the track record. In contrast, the track's clocker's watch stated that his time was 1:54 2/5, and two men from the Daily Racing Form showed that his time was 1:53 2/5.

 The following day, TV stations such as CBS showed reruns of both Canonero's and Secretariat's races. They allowed fans themselves to time the video clips and thus draw their own conclusion. Several days later, after much controversy, an official statement was made: Secretariat's time was 1:54 2/5.(Daily Racing Form still noted their timing of 1;53 2/5)

  Yet his most avid fans were not too concerned about his time. It had been twenty-five years since a horse had last one all of the races in the Triple Crown, and they all knew that if any horse could do it, Secretariat sure could.

Don't miss the other posts on the Triple Crown.

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