Commission to review Secretariat's 1973 Preakness time

Secretariat races towards the finish line during the 99th Kentucky Derby on May 5, 1973 at Churchill Downs.

Story highlights

  • Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973
  • The race horse set records in two of the three races
  • A review of his time in the Preakness could give him a record there, too

Among race horses, Secretariat is revered as one of the best of all time. His legacy was captured in the 2010 movie "Secretariat," which tells the story of the thoroughbred's Triple Crown victory.

In 1973, Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, and set records that still stand today at the Derby and Belmont. But modern technology might make it possible for Secretariat's Preakness time to be reviewed, and could possibly settle a controversy in racing history and give the horse a record time.

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The Maryland Racing Commission will hold a hearing to consider evidence that Secretariat is indeed a Preakness record-holder.

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Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, and Thomas Chuckas, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club, made the request.

The controversy over Secretariat's time goes back to the 1973 race day.

The electronic timer at the Preakness recorded a winning time of 1:55. However, two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form individually timed the race at 1:53 2/5.

Officials at the Pimlico Race Course, where the race is held, admitted that there were "extenuating circumstances" with the electronic timer's recording, and changed Secretariat's official time to 1:54 2/5.

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If Secretariat had indeed ran the race in 1:53 2/5, as the Daily Racing Form timed it, it would have meant a record at the time, and one that has been matched, but not beaten since.

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

Modern video technology can be used to settle the controversy, Chuckas said.

"During the last 40 years, video technology has been accepted in other professional sports as a supportive mechanism for officials to ensure fairness and accuracy in their decisions," he said. "It is important for horse racing and the record books to confirm the correct time in this historical race. It is the appropriate thing to do."

The commission will consider the request at a June 19 meeting.

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