Updated on 06/15/2012 1:26PM

Secretariat's Preakness time from 1973 to be reviewed by Maryland commission


The Maryland Racing Commission will conduct a formal review of the official time recorded for Secretariat’s win in the 1973 Preakness Stakes at its monthly commission meeting on June 19, representatives of Secretariat said on Tuesday.

The review will seek to settle once and for all a controversy that has dogged the 1973 Preakness since Secretariat crossed the wire at Pimlico in an official electronic time of 1:55, one second slower than Canonero’s record at the time for the race. Two clockers from Daily Racing Form had hand-timed the race in 1:53 2/5, and, after lengthy hearings, Pimlico’s stewards and the state racing commission agreed to revise the time to 1:54 2/5.

Leonard Lusky, a representative of Secretariat’s former owner, Penny Chenery, said on Tuesday that three separate companies have conducted “forensic analysis” on the replay of the race and have established a time that they believe is accurate to .03 of a second. Lusky declined to provide the time that the horse’s representatives would seek for the race, but he said that the analysis had produced “compelling evidence” to revise the official time again.

“We’ll be bringing in the forensic film analysis and we’ve been doing a lot of scientific study of that film,” Lusky said. “New technology has opened up some new avenues that haven’t yet been explored.”

Although the official time maintained by the track remains 1:54 2/5, DRF has continued to use 1:53 2/5, based on its own review of the evidence.

An official revision would have some impact on Secretariat’s legacy. Secretariat broke the track record in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and a revision of the Preakness time lower than Canonero’s record would give the horse the track record in all three races at the time they were run.

The track record for the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Preakness is held by Farma Way, who ran 1 3/16 miles in the Pimlico Special in 1:52 2/5 on May 11, 1991. Farma Way’s time broke a record set a year earlier by Criminal Type, who won the same race in 1:53.

“For me, revisiting this dispute on a new day is a matter of resolution – for historians, for sportswriters, and for racing fans,” said Chenery, in a release. “Their voices are supported by sound evidence, and they deserve to be heard.”

Three horses that have won the Preakness since 1973 have done so in the 1:53 2/5 time that is used by DRF for Secretariat’s win: Tank’s Prospect in 1985, Louis Quatorze in 1995, and Curlin in 2007.