Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The 99th Kentucky Derby, 1973

There's nothing especially interesting to report this week on the 2008 Derby hunt, so I thought I'd put up a flashback to one of the more memorable contests. In the 1973 Derby, Secretariat started near the rear of the pack and came on strong to catch Sham at the top of the stretch and win by two-and-a-half lengths.

When people look back on Secretariat's Triple Crown run, the race which inspires the greatest awe is that 31-length victory in the Belmont stakes. While his Derby is not as visually impressive, there is a special distinction to this race (besides the fact that, like the Belmont, it still stands as the record-time for the race and distance).

Essentially all racehorses slow down as a race progresses, particularly a long race; the winner is the horse that slows down least. Secratariat ran each successive quarter-mile faster than the last - he was speeding up for the entire mile-and-a-quarter.

His fractions for the race were: 25 1/5, 24, 23 4/5, 23 2/5 and 23 seconds.