The power. The elegance. The remarkable beauty. The intense anticipation. The moment. The race. The dirt flies.
In 1973, a horse named Secretariat struck out of the starting gate with all of the other Kentucky Derby contenders. It was this day that he set himself apart from every other horse in history. He had won the 99th Kentucky Derby that year in an unprecedented way. Every quarter he ran was faster than the previous one, running from dead last out of the gate to win, by over 2 lengths. He was the first horse to run 1 ¼ miles in under 2 minutes. He defied logic. In all other situations, horses begin to fatigue along with the length of the race. He did what no other horse has ever done. He ran faster as the race progressed.
In the Preakness, he broke out of the gate last again. He went from last to first in about 180 yards during the first turn. His acceleration was amazing. And seemingly far too early. Down the backstretch, he eased into position, and ran for an easy 2 ½ length win. People fell in love with Secretariat, during a very tumultuous time in our own history.
As we witnessed the details of Watergate, Secretariat was on the front of Time Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. He was magnificent. No scandal, just pure beauty. He would become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948, and he inspired us and gave us something to believe in.
On June 9th 1973, Secretariat captured our hearts, and our imagination, and he did not disappoint. He seemed to know what he needed to do for the grueling 3rd leg of the Triple Crown, and he did it with panache and fire. Exactly when he meant to … Before the race, his muscles were rippling, his nostrils flared, his ears flickered. He nickered. He reared. He was ready.
He broke out of the gate very well, and was on the inside going into the first turn. Sham, and Secretariat were together during the first turn. He felt terrific, and felt like running. Many people thought: Let him run. Let's see what he can do. Down the backstretch, he left Sham at the ¾ mile mark in a blistering 1:09 2/5. Before the 2nd turn he widened his lead. It was an insane pace. But he kept pulling away. Nobody knew he could do this! With ¼ mile to go, he was 14 lengths in the lead. Coming out of the turn for home, he was ahead by 18 and simply annihilating his field of competitors. The calling of the race, infused with great awe, "he's moving like a tremendous machine!", Was indelibly etched in many memories. Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes by an astonishing 31 lengths in a world record time of 2:24:00. He owns the Belmont. It wouldn't be right to have the Belmont Stakes without honoring the great Secretariat.
Everybody was screaming with joy, and exhilaration and then many simply began weeping! It was amazing. This was perfection. Many people never cashed their winning tickets. That was their piece of something great.
Horseracing is filled with unpredictable, and very intense moments. Secretariat gave us something that no other horse of recent memory has: He was an example of Greatness.
Throughout history, contests have been waged from the backs of horses. It is a fascinating part of our lives, as we measure and test our abilities, hone our skills and feel the beat of destiny. Horses are an inexorable part of all of us. We wouldn't be where we are without them. Secretariat is a horse that will be remembered as a true champion, and since he was retired to stallion duty at the end of his 3 year old racing season, we will never really know what he was truly capable of.