04/23/2013 12:35PM

Dick Jerardi: Pimlico plans events for 40th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown

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Bob Coglianese/NYRA
Secretariat dominates the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Pimlico will hold events next month to recognize the 40th anniversary of his Triple Crown win.

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.

[MID-ATLANTIC RACING: Complete DRF coverage, weekly video previews]

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.