SECRETARIAT's WHITNEY, WOODWARD and HOPEFUL STAKES RACES SET
On August 4, 1973, SECRETARIAT ran his 17th race, the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga; his first venture against older horses with four opponents: WEST COAST SCOUT, TRUE KNIGHT, ONION and RULE BY REASON - in the stretch SECRETARIAT got within a head of the Allen Jerkins-trained ONION but couldn't pass him...in the final strides ONION edged away by a length as the crowd gasped. The dull and lackluster performance in the Whitney stripped SECRETARIAT of his cloak of invincibility. So the mortal SECRETARIAT entered the company of the immortals with his upset at Saratoga; and it is only by reference to SECRETARIAT that ONION will be remembered.
On September 29, 1973, SECRETARIAT shocked his fans again by losing the mile and a half Woodward Stakes to another Allen Jerkens-trained horse...16-1 PROVE OUT in a field of five including the filly, SUMMER GUEST, COUGAR II, and AMEN II. His 4-1/2 length loss in this race was the worst defeat of his career.
AS AN ADDED BONUS...SECRETARIAT's August 26, 1972, Hopeful Stakes is also included (in its entirety from start to finish but with no sound taken directly from track archives). SECRETARIAT was a force to be reckoned with coming into the 6-1/2 furlong 1972 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga off of a three-race winning streak. As the name implies, it can hopefully give a clue on potential champions: twelve former Hopeful winners captured the Belmont Stakes while since 1936 fourteen were voted, "Best Two-Year-Old". Setting what was soon to be a familiar pattern, the saddling area was jammed with people trying to get a glimpse of the new Meadow Stable star. Just about everyone pegged SECRETARIAT the heavy favorite at 2-5 and only six horses dared to face him. SECRETARIAT won in typical fashion for him, shooting from last place to a five-length victory. His time of 1:16-1/5 was 3/5 of a second slower than the stakes and track record. The faint quiver now became a distinct quake; for the first time some began to talk of SECRETARIAT as a "Super Horse."
That he could lose too was part of his charm; it made him all the more endeared and loved by his loyal legion of fans. He lost the Whitney after struggling with a low-grade infection and temperature for days. He lost the Woodward when it rained and trainer, LUCIEN LAURIN sent him in unprepared to take stable mate, RIVA RIDGE's place as RIVA could hardly stand up in the mud and SECRETARIAT had abandoned dirt instead training on turf at distances less than 1-1/2 miles. SECRETARIAT, like all living things was mortal - but still a super horse indeed! In a mortal sort of way, SECRETARIAT joined an illustrious roster of acknowledged super horses who were gallant even in defeat.
As in SECRETARIAT and MAN O'WAR, the adulation of heroes has been the fancy of sports fans from time immemorial. Physical attributes and noble achievements have provided fodder for endless debate, argument and comparison. But each in his own way and time exhibited some flaw that marred an otherwise perfect image. While these equine giants represented the finest of their breed and fully deserved the accolades they accumulated, the truth is that some failings manifested themselves in each and may be excused by the simple fact that after all..."they were only human." An axiom, in effect, says that anyone who reaches the top of the heap is fair game to those who aspire to reach the pinnacle: if reaching the summit is impossible, then the next best thing is to embarrass the champion or best him in one fashion or another.
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|