Secretariat given Preakness Stakes record 39 years after race

Chris Chase
Yahoo! Sports Blogs

Thirty-nine years after winning the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat has set the race record at the second leg of the Triple Crown.

The Maryland Racing Commission decided on Tuesday that Secretariat actually ran the 1973 race in 1 minute, 53 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the official time of 1:54 2/5. That determination means the famed thoroughbred, who died in 1989, will hold the race records at each of the three Triple Crown races.

Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenrey, requested a hearing last week to look into her horse's official time at the Preakness. After an investigation, the commission unanimously voted to change the time. The Daily Racing Form explains how:

The vote resolves a controversy that has dogged the race since Secretariat crossed the Preakness finish line more than 39 years ago. The official electronic teletimer clocked the race in 1:55, one second slower than Canonero II's record for the race at the time, but that time was revised after a review of the film determined that the timer had malfunctioned. Two timers employed by Daily Racing Form had hand-timed the race in 1:53 2/5, three-fifths of a second faster than Canonero II.

DRF, which had officially recognized the 1:53 2/5 mark for the race since it was run, will now recognize the 1:53 mark established by the commission. In addition, Mike Gathagan, a spokesman for Pimlico's operator, said that the track would adopt the new time as the official mark for the 1973 Preakness.

That's a pretty big gap in times. The timers at the Daily Racing Form had it 1 3/5 seconds faster than the Preakness timers? Then the new review determined it was 2/5 of a second faster than that? I've seen neighborhood swim meets with better timekeeping.

But if it's true, it all makes perfect sense, other than the whole part about waiting 39 years. In all the Secretariat hagiography over that time, nobody thought to review this earlier? Giving the horse this posthumous credit is a little bit like going back and declaring that Nixon actually won Massachusetts in the 1972 election.

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