“The greatest nine minutes in sports history”: Was Secretariat the best athlete of all time?

Reader Randy Schenck sent this, and I quote verbatim from his email:

I call this video the greatest nine minutes in sports history because when you look up greatest athletes of the 20th century it gives lists of people and pretty much talks about human athletes.   However, if the entire animal world is included in this ranking, I think this mammal sits atop the pile as the best athlete—and it only takes 9 minutes of video to make the case.

Also known as big red, Secretariat’s performance in the 1973 Triple Crown is an achievement without equal.  It was probably the second race, the Preakness [JAC: starts at about 3:25], that caused most viewers to take notice and ask the question: what just happened here?  He started last into the first turn and then, powering his way to the front, it was suddenly all over.  The Belmont is the race everyone remembers, but it was the Preakness that told all, this was something special.

JAC: Indeed, why shouldn’t a horse be counted as an athlete? What’s the difference between a horse and a human sprinter in terms of abilities?

I have to say, the 22-length victory at the Belmont is simply astounding.

80 Comments

  1. Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This judgment doesn’t make sense to me.

    We have enough trouble (rightfully so) comparing, say an equestrian athlete (human rider) and, say, a hockey player. Why would we be able to make a meaningful judgement comparing the movement of individuals across species?

    And greatest athlete? What about:

    The soaring ability of albatrosses or swifts or condors?
    The speed of cheetahs?
    The strength of gorillas?
    The speed of peregrine falcons?
    The jumping distance of fleas or jumping spiders or kangaroos?
    The throwing ability of a chameleon or an archer fish?

    A bird can go much higher than any human pole vaulter. Does that make them a better pole vaulter?

    How does volition (within the bounds of determinism) bear on the meaning of the word: Athlete? Would Secretariat have won those races with a sack of birdshot on the saddle instead of the jockey(s)? Since the jockey is there, is this a team achievement?

    Maybe one could call this: The greatest series of running performances by a mammalian quadruped with cross-species assistance.

    • Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Then again, I am probably taking this too seriously …

    • BJ
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      This is the issue for me. An athlete devotes him/herself to an athletic pursuit and becomes one of/the best because of their conscious effort and drive.

      A horse becomes the best at some horse thing because it (1) happens to be the best horse that people chose to do this specific horse thing; (2) receives training from humans who want it to be the best at this specific horse thing; (3) has a human riding on its back that is purposefully driving it toward being the best at this horse thing.

      A horse is not a conscious actor in an athletic pursuit, nor is it attempting to be the best. The fact that a horse is the best at its horse thing is the result of random factors and the human drive to find and cultivate the horse to do something about which the horse neither knows nor cares.

      • Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        I will only point out that I’ve personally seen horse races where the rider falls off and the horse finishes the race. Wild horses have racing duels and in addition to fighting, racing is a way for males to assert dominance.

        Horses LOVE to race. And it is often racing, not merely running; they WANT to win. Or at least show they are strong enough. There isn’t much training involved, at least not like there is for humans.

      • darrelle
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        “A horse is not a conscious actor in an athletic pursuit, nor is it attempting to be the best.

        I don’t think that is a given, at all.

        • BJ
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          To clarify: I meant the best for the purposes of athletic pursuit. Certainly, as mikeyc notes above, the horse is trying to be the best at running very fast, but not for the purpose of sport.

          • Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            Quite right. They are amateurs racing for the love of running. They don’t care a tinker’s fart about the Triple Crown or the 20:1 odds or the distance they are running. The whip is just a goad to remind them they are racing against other horses. All they want to do is run, even with those nasty removable tumors on their backs.

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            You seem to be conflating “athletic pursuit” and “sport” with formal competition. That seems an overly narrow definition to me.

            Recreational cyclists might ride 50 miles a day, which makes them pretty good athletes in my book, even though they’re not competing with anyone.

            Ballet dancers are extraordinary athletes, but a dance performance isn’t a contest to see who wins.

            • BJ
              Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

              I can see how what I’ve said is unclear. Athletes (like dancers) constantly strive to reach the pinnacle of their potential. They consciously work tirelessly to better themselves.

              We have respect for great athletes not just for their skills, but for their determination and drive. We marvel at what an animal can do, but we don’t have that same respect for it because it’s instinctual and not the result of a constant attempt to reach greater heights.

          • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            They do also enjoy the competition. If you go to the paddock before a race, you’ll see some of them visibly just raring to go.

      • notsecurelyanchored
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Look up the record of Arrogate. He looks like a horse who lost interest in running, in being the best.

        • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          My friend is tight with Mike Smith. I’ll ask her to ask him what was going on.

          • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Okay, NOT from Mike Smith, but rumor has it Arrogate’s a bleeder.

      • Maharani Flores
        Posted December 26, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        You must know very little about horses to state they don’t know or care about winning. Suggest you actually do some research.

        • Posted December 26, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I suggest you read the rules; comments like this are rude. You don’t just come over on a first post and start saying stuff like this. You will not be allowed to post again until you apologize. There are of course ways to make comments like this without being rude, but apparently you don’t know them.

        • Posted January 2, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          So, you are saying (I think, it’s not really clear) that Secretariat would have run the exact sames races with a sack of bird shot on the saddle instead of the jockeys?

          I didn’t say they cared zero about winning (or running faster than the other horses in the race).

          I said that it unclear how volition plays into this and the definition of an “athlete”. And I also noted that, since the jockey was, in fact, present in these races, perhaps his should be considered a team achievement.

          Do you completely disregard the role of the jockey? If so, how can you justify that? If not, to what degree is this a team achievement?

    • Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Statistical difference within similar groups matters. How does one cheetah compare with another?

      Comparison to others within the same group defines the critical feature of athletics. Comparison outside, e.g., robot to human makes athleticism nihilistic.

      It would also be unfair, I think, to compare swimmers in fifty years to Michael Phelps. The average elite swimmer will outperform his feats. Mostly from genetic selection, performance enhancement techniques, both physical and medical, dietary improvements, suit technologies, etc.

      • Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        “Mostly from genetic selection….”

        Wait. What? In humans?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Whether taken seriously or not, determining the best athlete among many sports is always a subjective thing. Just listen to them argue about soccer players. My thought is that people argue this subject but animals do not. Horses that win the triple crown are somewhat rare and they are taking on a very hard task. To run these three races in a 5 week period and finish first each time is special in the horse racing world. That horse automatically reaches a special place in the sport. But to do it like Secretariat did in 1973 was something never seen before and he smashed records that continues 44 years later. He is and was the best of all triple crown winners but I cannot compare it with Michael Phelps who would certainly be the best in the swimming world. These type sports are more easily measured because the clock is the story, not numbers of points scored or matches won.

        Whether you enjoy horse racing or think it an evil sport does not matter either. Some will think baseball a boring sport but that opinion has no place in the comparison of those who played the game.

    • Carla
      Posted December 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Since and now that these horses are being recognized as athletes they are getting better treatment and respect then ever.
      Once they have been recognized as natural athletes, they are no longer seen as”JUST A HORSE” and doors will open to all horses to be loved and respected from Thoroughbred a to wild mustangs.

  2. nwalsh
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Beelebomb. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BavRrRNvz8g

  3. nwalsh
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Beetlebom that is

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Did they test for PEDs back then?

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they commented on a twitchy head movement in the stalls in the first race.
      A sign, I am told, of added friskiness.

  5. Craw
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to compare. Jim Thorpe was never allowed to run the Preakness.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    It’ officially 31 lengths at Belmont despite what the racing commentator is saying [how do they estimate that?].

    Ron Turcotte, the jockey, says Secratariat decided he wanted to be in front & that was that – no urging from Turcotte. I read somewhere that the horse had an unusually large heart.

    I have no way of judging across-species athletes, I’m still trying to get my head around how fairness is achieved in para-athletics or why ski-jumping is scored for style or who got bribed to let synchronised swimming [artistic swimming] into athletic competition!!!

    • Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, those things worry me too. The concept of fair competition is often fuzzy and will only get worse as our powers of genetic manipulation increase in the coming years. It is hard to say exactly what we will be measuring.

    • Paul S
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      How fairness is achieved in para-athletics? The same way it is achieved in any athletic competition, training.
      If you have doubts, I can introduce you to several members of the US women’s sledge hockey team.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        We are at cross purposes I suppose.

        Fairness in sport is achieved by making sure entrants understand & abide by the etiquette & regulations + anti-cheating measures + depending on the sport, a division by ability, age, sex, weight etc.

    • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      It’ officially 31 lengths at Belmont despite what the racing commentator is saying [how do they estimate that?

      The race announcers eyeball it.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Secretariat was the greatest thoroughbred of our lifetimes, hands down. We’ll not see another like him again.

    But for shear excitement, the best Triple Crown occurred five years later, when Affirmed and Alydar finished win-place in all three races. Here they are in the Belmont Stakes, the third and longest (mile-and-a-half) leg of the Triple Crown. The two ran away from the field on the back stretch, finishing in a head-to-head back-and-forth duel down the home stretch, with Affirmed winning by a nose at the wire.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that was the best race for the fans as these two horses were so good and equal. I believe it was the third best time for the Belmont, which is the third and longest race of the crown. Unfortunate for Secretariat there was no real competition and we also know that affirmed finished more than two seconds behind Secretariat’s record time.

    • Posted December 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      “Secretariat was the greatest thoroughbred of our lifetimes”

      That is easy to agree with. I agree. 🙂

  8. rickflick
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I wonder if horse beading has come to some apex in Secretariat? The record times, it appears, have not been broken in nearly 50 years. Maybe a faster horse would have a physique (thinner legs) that would break down if it attempted to break Secretariat’s records.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Secretariat was a super-successful hybrid outcross from an inbred line. Modern racehorses come from a ‘bottleneck’ of rich people selection from an already ‘bottlenecked’ horse population that form the inbred line. Then, over the years these ‘thoroughbred’ horses get outcrossed with fresh horse to produce the occasional Secretariat outlier who then starts a new inbred line of crazy profit for the lucky human owners of the horse genes.

      I doubt that human artificial selection is as smart as the trainers/owners would like to believe – what is being lost when whittling for speed & stamina? A certain wild determination? Brains? So perhaps this has throttled the racehorse graph?

      If human athletes had been artificially selected we would have excluded these two humans from the line:

      [1] A fragile kid with growth hormone deficiency went on to become the football GOAT [Messi].

      [2] A too tall** kid with an uneven gait went on to become the sprint GOAT [Bolt]

      In both examples I believe success in great part comes from a mental toughness & a joy/carefreeness in their sport

      ** Maybe the theory is different now, but nobody used to believe 1.95 height is a recipe for sprint success – too slow off the blocks not making up for the longer stride, but they wuz wrong.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        1.95 metres = approx 6′ 5″

      • rickflick
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Interesting point. I half suspect a lot of human over achievers in all walks of life start off with deficiencies and somehow find the determination to overcome them. It’s as if they want to prove the naysayers wrong.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Just from the RAF I can think of Douglas Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL [Reach for The Sky] – a supremely determined, conceited & rather unpleasant, self-starter & also Guy Gibson VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar with similar character traits. Great operational leaders with little or no self doubt [most of the time] in their makeup.

          Both products of the ‘Empire’ system of Spartan, inhumane prep schools while parents are abroad in India, South Africa etc telling ‘the natives’ what to do 🙂

          • rickflick
            Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            I’m unfamiliar with all of that, but I checked the Bader case:

            “Bader joined the RAF in 1928, … In December 1931, while attempting some aerobatics, he crashed and lost both his legs.”

            And yet:

            “…during the Second World War. He was credited with 22 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged.”

            Impressive.

      • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Since we’re talking great athletes who didn’t fit the mold – Willie Pep. He was a lightweight but everyone who saw him fight say he was the greatest fighter of all time. He couldn’t fight heavyweights -they’re the ones who get (almost) all the attention- but lb for lb, he was the greatest.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          Thanks! Good example. I know the name from passing references to him in many of the Spenser books – all of which I’ve read twice or more. I’m watching him now on YT – defo Will o’ the Wisp

          This video is amusing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quAvMC5DZPo

          I note he reached 84 yo, but with boxer’s dementia late on & he lived at Rocky Hill [nice coincidence] 🙂

          • Posted December 22, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            My father knew him. Pep convinced Pops to fight Golden Gloves when my dad was 17. He said it was the hardest three minutes of his life. Each time he fought. Dad didn’t have a long career (the Korean War took its toll) but he idolized Pep and growing up we always heard about Willie and the way he moved. Pops’ friends said no one fought like Pep.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        The secrets of thoroughbred breeding were revealed by Pauly to his cousin Charley in the cult classic The Pope of Greenwich Village:

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          Never seen it, but it’s ‘free’ for me on Amazon Prime so I’m gonna watch in a mo. Looks like a film with lots of talk, not much happening & two low lifes. Definitely my sort of thing.

          And I have wine in the house. And Pizza. And with Daryl Hannah too! [not here, but on the screen]

          Ta

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted December 22, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            Based on the great ultra-cult classic novel by Vincent Patrick. Watch for the great performance by Geraldine Page as the mother of the dead detective. She got an Academy Award nomination for the role, even though she’s on screen for barely 15 minutes.

            Enjoy!

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted December 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

              Ms. Page was good – hacking her lungs up. Ms. Hannah very decorative. I enjoyed Paulie’s comedy dialogue: “turrow bed horse”, “artificial inspiration” & “it’s all in the gene”. Little Italy was lovely & I didn’t realise so much of it was still there in its old glory as late as ’83 – if it’s still there now I’m sure it’s gentrified to hell & back & crawling with hipster scum.

              The Twin Towers pulled me up.

              Film let down by lazy plot clichés & it’s difficult to build tension in a film that jumps in & out of comedy mode – the Sting does it better. Annoying film tropes 80s style: made-for-TV 3rd rate Miles Davis-style jazz trumpet soundtrack, to signal it’s time to be nervous. Overacted by the principles** & lacking menace.

              When an Italian gets angry at someone it’s the steely stare, when he’s angry at himself it’s kicking trash cans & punching holes in doors.

              The happy ending with Charlie & Paulie walking down the middle of the street arguing good naturedly was a setup for an obvious sequel. I bet the book was darker.

              That said – plenty to enjoy as a lover of lower Manhattan, NYC. So thanks Ken!

      • Filippo
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        “Modern racehorses come from a ‘bottleneck’ of rich people selection . . . .”

        Penny Chenery strikes me as a down-to-earth, reasonable, congenial person. I make that throat-clearing prefatory comment prior to saying that it bugs me to no end to have to look at the preening owners who show up at the end of the race, as if the owning of something is the creation or production of it. Y’know, like some English lord getting some ancient Greek marbles or da Vinci codex named after himself (is it now the Gates Codex?); or some young self-absorbed Saudi prince spending nearly half a billion dollars on a da Vinci painting.

    • Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I once owned three off-the-track thoroughbreds at once – a 6-yo, a 16-yo, and a 26-yo. All were 16hh, with very similar conformation — except for the legs & feet, which grew thinner & smaller as the horses grew younger. They do breed for thinner legs to get faster speed, and it’s incredibly stupid. There are lots of stupid lore, old wive’s tales, and sketchy understanding of inheritance in the racing industry. Most breeding philosophies act as if Greger Mendel had never existed.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        What do you think of steeplechase? I can’t watch

        • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          It’s kinda like the Australian Rules Football of racing.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Chances are your 3 horses were pretty closely related.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, first cousin marriage – for horses & the elites [Darwin etc.]

        • Posted December 27, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          They all had a high Count Fleet dosage, but that’s not saying much.

  9. darrelle
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I’d agree that it was the Preakness race that made people really sit up and take notice, but I think the Belmont was without question the most astounding race by Secretariat, or any horse. There was a major difference in Secretariat’s Belmont race. In all previous races Secretariat was taken out at a moderate pace and then built speed to come from behind.

    But in the Belmont he was taken out fast. He took the lead early and continued to run hard the entire race. Some experts watching the race were sure that he couldn’t continue at the pace he was running, but he did until he crossed the finish with a 31 length lead. It was so extraordinary that it seemed impossible. He set a time record that still has not been beat.

    Said the jockey of the horse that finished 2nd . . .

    “Upon retuning to the saddling area, Baeza said: “Why isn’t anyone congratulating me? I won the race didn’t I? I mean, I beat every horse I could see””

  10. Craw
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Secretariat? Nobody runs the Triple Crown better than Donald Trump. Nobody.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Mike Pence, is that you?

  11. Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    No need for technicalities here. Racehorses are athletes. Secretariat was a magnificent racehorse and a supreme athlete. I agree with Prof Coyne. This was 9 minutes of the best sports viewing of all time.

  12. Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    sub

  13. Curt Nelson
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I would like to take this opportunity to say that the chestnut crab apple is the best fruit of all time.

  14. David Andrews
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    U admit I actually weep when I watch Secretariat’s accomplishments, but let’s not be sexist pigs. Ruffian was likely the greatest filly of all time, and maybe the best racehorse ever.

    http://www.wideopenpets.com/the-tragic-story-of-ruffian-the-racehorse/

  15. Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s difficult to compare sports since they require different skills and abilities. One moment I was quite impressed with was back in the 1980’s when Jahangir Khan was dominating squash, he beat another world class player 9-0 9-0 9-0. I’m not aware of any world class tennis player who could beat another world class player without letting them win a single point! I do find that squash is a game that slight differences in ability translate into measurable differences in points (eg. almost even 10-8 or 10-9, a little better 9-7, even better 9-3, and a different level 9-0).

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      Top women players often beat other world class players 00.
      Men, not so much, but some.
      But, world class doesn’t necessarily mean super elite like Federer class.

  16. Martin Levin
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Agreed that Affirmed vs Alydar was as good as horse racing gets. But watching Secretiat, who, more than 40 years later, still holds the record in all three triple crown races. I have less interest in whether he counts as an athelete than in just how magnificent a creature he was, and what a thrill it remains every time I watch him run.

  17. Tommy Begaye
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    He was the greatest…indeed. I watch his races over and over…I never get bored..

  18. Gary Benson
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    The best athletic performance of the 20th century

  19. Morris Lay
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I am sure the debate whether or not Secretariat should be considered as the best athlete ever will continue to posterity. However, the more important issue is if he is an athlete at all. You would have a difficult time proving he wasn’t to those who were alive and watching him perform. He unified this country during some trying times and became a national hero. I believe he was the greatest racehorse that ever lived. His records still stand today. Was he an athlete? I would invite you to prove he wasn’t.

  20. Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    In the Derby, Schecky Greene set an early fast pace for a large field, and Gold Bag tries to keep up. About 3/4 through, you can see Gold Bag has peaked and then Schecky Greene eventually fades too. Secretariat’s jockey, Turcotte, held him back, which you can & should do if your horse is capable of a burst. Especially with such a crowded field and you’re off the rail.

    Preakness: The small field is not so fast to start, and Secretariat has the rail, so Turcotte just lets him go and sets the pace. In the final turn, note how the other jockeys are using lots of crop, but not Secretariat’s. (Give credit to Sham’s jockey, Pincay, for laying off the crop and easing up once the outcome was obvious.)

    Belmont: Both Sham’s and Secretariat’s jockeys set a fast pace early on, but both are holding their horses back a little. The rest of the field is already out of it, and they know it’s between them two. Then Turcotte gives Secretariat his head and he starts picking up speed. This was brilliant strategy by Turcotte, as Sham – a really awesome horse in his own right – has been worn out by the early, one-on-one pace in this the last and longest race.

    Jeez, I still tear up a bit whenever I watch that finish. Secretariat is the G.O.A.T. of all sports.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Maybe you should have the job calling races? What was that joke, It’s cabbage by a head and bubble gum sticking to the rail.

      • Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        I’m amazed at how they can call them so mellifluously, especially with all those silly names.

  21. Jim F
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Big Red won the Belmont by 31 lengths not 22…for those at the Belmont this was almost a supernatural experience…those inquiring about ped testing obviously do not know the story of Secretariat…upon his death the necropsy determined that Secretariat’s heart was almost 2.5x larger than that of a typical racehorse, this astounded experts and provided evidence of how he was so blindingly fast at times…simply put he was genetically gifted…the incredibly quick move which he made in the Preakness from last to first was unparalleled…as has been often said, no horse in the history of racing could have beaten Secretariat at the Belmont on June 9, 1973…galloping out the Belmont after crossing the finish line Secretariat also set an unofficial WR in the mile and 3/4!

  22. Sherri
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    The Belmont victory was 31 lengths, not 22

  23. Michael Kelly
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Secretariat won Belmont by over 30 lengths not 22.

  24. Melanie vickers
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    There have certainly been a lot of great race horses, but secretariat is indeed the very best of them all.

  25. Barry
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, not 22. And for the record, my father, HARRY KAPLAN took that world famous photo of Secretariat coming down the rail with all the other horses so far behind, NOT Bob Coglianese.

  26. Juan Fonseca
    Posted December 23, 2017 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    The records of these.races says it all,Big Red in my opinion is the greatest horse that has ever run .224 world wide it’s not a cookie

  27. Posted December 23, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    It was 32 lengths but it was the time that was so special. 2:24 flat where the old record was 2:27 3/5. Easy Goer and A P Indy later did it in 2:26. Nobody will ever break it!

    This # lengths is important also because Citation won by 26.

  28. lorraine
    Posted December 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Okay, so I’ve read the comments and some make sense. However; in my view, I don’t see that you can or should compare an animal to a human. Jesse Owens, should he be compared to a horse? Now, Secretariat was a great horse, he had a wonderful triple crown series, set records in 2 out of the 3, the Preakness was stolen, but we won’t go there, unless you want me to, but he isn’t the greatest just because of who he was, what he did, or when he arrived on the scene. Too many people today forget about the great horses of the past, history, fails the present again. There were many great horses before him, such as the #1 greatest horse of all time, Man O’ War, but yea, people don’t want to acknowledge him, and I could compare THAT to “humans” now, but won’t go there either. And, I’ve read where no horse has broken Secretariat’s records in the triple crown series since, (um yea, there were two that equaled the Preakness record BEFORE the horse’s connections decided he had to hold all three records) but NO WONDER, horses are bred to breed not race anymore. It took 37 years after Affirmed just to have a horse “good” enough to even win the triple crown. So, time means nothing unless you are serving it. May I add, The Bid was a great horse, but unfortunately had the wrong Ron on him. Affirmed’s times were faster than Seattle Slew and Slew defeated Affirmed twice. So, to get to the point of the article when comparing, I know it’s hard that Secretariat isn’t #1 in people rankings, because he’s not number 1 in horse rankings either. Give it up. Secretariat is great, not the 2nd coming, of Man O’ War that is.


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