#tbTHR: Secretariat captures the Triple Crown with his win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes

The newest addition to Throwback Times Herald-Record (#tbTHR) is a look back at the great racehorse Secretariat and his winning the Triple Crown with a dominating and historic win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes on a hot, humid June afternoon.
Here is the story that appeared in the Times Herald-Record the following day, from our then wire partners United Press International.

Secretariat in 2:24.0

NEW YORK (UPI) – Secretariat, running everyone else into the ground with one of the most eye-popping performances in turf history, stamped himself a horse for the ages Saturday when he smashed an American record while winning the $150,200 Belmont Stakes by an unbelievable 31 lengths to capture the first Triple Crown in 25 years.
In 1948, Citation accomplished the feat, but of Secretariat his trainer, Lucien Laurin, said, “I think he’s a better horse.’’
Off his unprecedented performance, Secretariat very well may be that. No horse in the previous 104 runnings of this classic ever won the Belmont by such a large margin, and Secretariat’s clocking of 2:24 flat set a record for the mile and a half distance.
The previous American record of 2:26 1-5 was set by Going Abroad at Aqueduct on Oct. 12, 1964. The fastest mile and a half ever run was a 2:23 performance by Fiddle Isle at Santa Anita on Feb. 23, 1970, but that mark was set on a downhill turf course.
“I wondered a bit when I saw those early fractions, wondered if he was going too fast,’’ Laurin said. “But I told myself that Ronnie (jockey Ron Turcotte) knows the horse and that made me feel better.
“I felt better all through the stretch when he was drawing out and still running like a gem.’’
Turcotte, who has ridden Secretariat in all three of the Triple Crown victories – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and now the Belmont – said he decided to go for the record Saturday when he was halfway through the stretch and could see the fractions on the tote board.
“Secretariat pulled away on his own down the backstretch and I never asked him to,’’ Turcotte said. “He was running his race. When we got into the stretch and I saw those fractions on the tote board I set him down for the first time.
“I knew he had a chance at the record. He had been fast, but he still had more when I asked him and he got the record. Real good, too.’’
As the huge crowd of 69,138 cheered their favorite every step of the way on a sunny 90-degree day, Secretariat never let up as he easily broke the stakes record of 2:26 3-5 set in 1957 by Gallant Man.
For the first half mile Secretariat and Sham, who was second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, battled head and head. The two horses matched stride for stride until they were almost halfway down the backstretch. Then the true merit and worth of this colt called Secretariat manifested itself to everyone.
Relentlessly he left Sham behind. He was a length ahead, two lengths ahead, seven lengths ahead, and the huge crowd roared its approval. As Secretariat steamed around the final bend, Sham gave up in exhaustion and eventually finished fifth in the field of five.
Unbelievably, Secretariat widened and widened the gap over the struggling field, who were too far back by now to even wallow in his dust.
Twice a Prince, the longest shot in the field, managed to take second place by half a length over My Gallant, but it was as though they were in an entirely different horse race. They had just about passed the sixteenth pole when Secretariat blazed to turf immortality.
Throughout racing history only eight other horses had won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. And not even such a turf immortal as mighty Count Fleet had been able to complete his sweep of the Triple Crown with the power and majesty of Secretariat.
Count Fleet won his Belmont Stakes in 1943 by 25 lengths and that effort was even better than Man O’ War’s 20-length triumph in 1920. In addition to Count Fleet, Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Assault and Citation, the last one 25 years ago, won the Triple Crown.
Secretariat picked up a winner’s purse of $90,120 and that skyrocketed the lifetime earnings of the long-striding colt to $895,242 and this was his 12th victory in 15 races. He was 2-year-old champion and Horse of the Year a year ago and he already has been syndicated for $6,000,000, and that big price looms as a better and better bargain everytime Secretariat races.
He was bet almost exclusively and he paid only $2.20 to win, but $2.40 to place. There was no show betting.
Twice a Prince paid $2.60 to place.
In charging to his record Secretariat set an unbelievable fast pace with help from Sham for the first half mile. The colt ran the first quarter in 23 2-5, the half in 46 1-5, and three quarters in an astonishing 1:09 4-5.
From there on Secretariat left Sham for dead, and he reached the mile in 1:34 1-5. No other horse in the mile and a half Belmont ever ran the first mile that rapidly. Yet what should have been an exhausting effort, never fazed Secretariat an iota.
On and on he rolled until he passed the mile and an eighth in 1:59 and reached the finish line in 2:24 flat. Despite the speed he displayed in the early stages, he still was able to run the last quarter in 25 seconds. That was the same time Gallant Man recorded for his final quarter but he had the help of Bold Ruler, the sire of Secretariat. For it was Bold Ruler that set the pace in the 1957 running and reached the mile in 1:35 3-5. And that was the end for “daddy.’’ Secretariat, his son, just kept running on and on to live up the name they called him on the backstretch – “The Big Red Machine.’’

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