Secretariat's '73 Preakness Time Is A Record, Racing Commission Rules

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- In 1973, Secretariat won horse racing's Triple Crown and set records that still stand today at the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Now, 39 years later, the legend has been recognized as having also set a still-standing record at the Preakness Stakes.

The Maryland Racing Commission unanimously agreed Tuesday that evidence shows Secretariat's Preakness time was less than originally recorded, said the commission's executive director, Mike Hopkins.

Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, and Thomas Chuckas, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club, made the request for the commission to review the evidence.

The hearing lasted for three hours and involved watching digital tapes and video overlays as well as listening to expert testimonies, Hopkins said.

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 (one minute, 55 seconds). However, two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form individually timed the race at 1:53 2/5.

Officials at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, 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.

If Secretariat had indeed run the 1 3/16-mile (9.5-furlong) 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.

But the commission changed the official time to 1:53 flat, meaning the then-3-year-old set an unmatched best in the race, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

"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."


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