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Dick Jerardi: Pimlico plans events for 40th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown
By Dick Jerardi
One can debate which of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races was the most impressive. Was it the Kentucky Derby win in a time that has not been surpassed in 40 years, the run around the field on the first turn at the Preakness, or the world-record time in the Belmont Stakes?
What can’t be debated is that we never saw anything like those efforts before and have not seen anything like it since.
Pimlico is going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown with a number of events and appearances by the living members of the Meadow Stable team at next month’s Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness stakes.
Tickets are available for a live taping May 14 of ESPN’s “In the Gate” racing podcast at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md. The roundtable discussion, “Secretariat’s 40th anniversary,” will include Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery; his jockey, Ron Turcotte; Bill Nack, the author of “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion;” writer Steve Davidowitz; Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas; and members of the Maryland Racing Commission.
After the podcast taping, there will be a showing of the documentary “Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte.” The filmmakers trailed Turcotte as he retraced the steps of his life. Five years after that Triple Crown, Turcotte was paralyzed in a racing accident. He gets around in a wheelchair and is such a hero in his Canadian hometown that a bridge there is named in his honor.
“It is a privilege to honor the greatness of the magnificent Secretariat at each and every one of his pivotal anniversaries,” Chuckas said. “The celebration of his 40th is even sweeter following the official confirmation last year that Big Red did, in fact, set a track record with his 1973 Preakness win. Secretariat’s star power is timeless, as his legion of fans can well attest.”
Secretariat is the Muhammad Ali of horse racing, transcending his sport. If you ask someone on the street to name one horse, 40 years later, that horse is still likely to be Secretariat.
“The Maryland Jockey Club has been most gracious in pulling together such an enriching event,” Chenery said. “I am very much looking forward to an engaging panel discussion hosted by ESPN, seeing the documentary film about Ronnie, and sharing this memorable occasion with friends and fans.”
Tickets for the three May 14 events – the ESPN roundtable, the AFI film screening, and a VIP reception – can be bought at secretariat.com for $50. There is a special rate of $25 for children 14 and under.
Jockey Flores gets 2,000th win
Penn National has had its share of solid riders over the years. For the last two decades, Emilio Flores, 42, definitely has been one of them.
On April 17, Flores got win No. 2,000 in the ninth race at Penn National. He has been among the top 10 in the jockeys’ standings at the track 13 times since 1994, and his 2,000th career win was his 1,867th at Penn National.
“It feels great to get 2,000 career wins,” Flores said. “It’s unbelievable, my dream come true. I was hoping to get No. 2,000 here at Penn National, and I did it.”
Summer stakes action at Parx
Parx Racing’s open stakes schedule begins June 22 with the $100,000 Don LeVine Memorial, followed July 2 by the $250,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial and July 5 by the $200,000 Parx Sprint.
September is the track’s big month, starting on Labor Day, Sept. 2, with the $200,000 Greenwood Cup, the $200,000 Turf Amazon, the $350,000 Smarty Jones, and the $350,000 Turf Monster. The $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup will be run Sept. 14.
The stakes action culminates Sept. 21 with the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, the $1 million Cotillion, and the $300,000 Gallant Bob.
Tense moments for Torre
Game On Dude got the $1 million first prize from last Saturday’s Charles Town Classic, but it was not nearly as easy as it looked on paper. The Dude was challenged all the way around and held off two challenges in late stretch to win by a half-length.
Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre has an ownership interest in the horse and said: “It’s a helpless feeling because you can’t do anything about it, just watch. Sort of the same thing when Mariano Rivera goes out to the mound. You put your hands in your pocket and hope for the best.”
◗ The 28th renewal of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19, at Laurel Park. The day features purses and awards of more than $1 million for Maryland-sired horses.
Secretariat was one in a million. Such a shame we couldn't see him run at 4. He was just gettin' into his prime. As Bill Nack said, "If Secretariat had been handled by other than flawed human beings, he would have been undefeated."
The 40th & 35th anniversaries, respectively, of SECRETARIAT's & AFFIRMED's Triple Crowns --monumental feats, becoming ever more so with the passage of time -- will go virtually unnoticed and uncelebrated by racetrack managements around the country. A perfect opportunity to honor the past and fuel the untapped fan base thirsting for nostalgia and history will again be lost. Imagine MLB, NFL, NHL, and the NBA not paying homage to their superstars. Just over two decades ago the bold type headline of the Daily Racing Form proclaimed "RACING IS NUMBER 1 SPECTATOR SPORT." Thoroughbred Racing's paid attendance in 1990 was 56,578,521. Major League Baseball was 54,823,768. Is it any wonder the popularity of our once great sport heads to oblivion?
horses like the great secretariat only comes once in a life time,we will never see a horse like him ever,iwas 22 years old when he won the Belmont,never in my wildest dreams did I realize that history was been made by this legend of a horse,& the last race was icing in the cake when he ran in the turf in Canada he look like a locomotive smoke coming out his nostrils like he was on fire burning the turf as he was running towards the finish line,he will forever be ech in my memorie,a more true champion that he will ever be.
Was a horse of a lifetime. Saw him run as 2 yr. old at Garden State Park and he was wow then. Belmont was one of the greatest athletic efforts ever. Come on, how many horses set track records in two of the triple crown races?
Funny, the track that SCREWED him of his rightful track record is having a day for him. Too late.
How about the Maryland Jockey Club FINALLY acknowledging the timer malfunction and that Secretariat actually set the track record in the 1973 Preakness!!
Bring back KEGASUS!
Who cares? They are going to sit around a table and tell us what we have heard 10,000 times before. They may add in a few more excuses of why all of those bums beat him. Why is it that no one is talking about this being the 45th anniversary of Dr. Fager's 1968 season, what some say is the most remarkable season of any American Thoroughbred? Now bring it on.
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