Bloomberg News

Secretariat’s Winning Time in 1973 Preakness to Be Reviewed

June 12, 2012

Secretariat’s winning time in the 1973 Preakness Stakes will be reviewed using modern video technology to determine if the horse set a record in all three races as he swept the Triple Crown.

The Maryland Racing Commission said it will consider a request by Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, and Maryland Jockey Club President Thomas Chuckas to investigate the official timing of the race. The commission holds its next meeting on June 19 at Laurel Park.

“During the last 40 years, video technology has been accepted in other professional sports as a supportive mechanism for officials to ensure fairness and accuracy in their decisions,” Chuckas said in a statement. “It is important for horse racing and the record books to confirm the correct time in this historical race.”

Secretariat is one of 11 thoroughbreds to win horse racing’s Triple Crown, with victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1973. The Preakness is the only one of the races in which Secretariat didn’t set a record.

The electronic timer used at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course recorded Secretariat’s win in 1 minute, 55 seconds, while two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form each hand- timed the race at 1:53 2/5. 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, the commission said.

Time Discrepancies

The Daily Racing Form still recognizes Secretariat’s time for the 1 3/16-mile distance as 1:53 2/5, which would have broken Canonero II’s then-record of 1:54 set at the 1971 Preakness. The Preakness’s current official record time of 1:53 2/5 was later set by Tank’s Prospect in 1985 and matched by Louis Quatorze in 1997 and Curlin in 2007.

“For me, revisiting this dispute on a new day is a matter of resolution -- for historians, for sportswriters and for racing fans,” Chenery said. “Their voices are supported by sound evidence, and they deserve to be heard.”

Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby in 1:59.4, 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 run 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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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