Work in Sports
Twenty-five years ago, Secretariat put on one of the most dominating performances in sports history, capturing horse racing's Triple Crown during a six-week span in May and June of 1973. Sports Illustrated's Whitney Tower reported from the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. In remembrance of Secretariat's remarkable feats, CNN/SI presents excerpts from Tower's dispatches:
It Was Murder
After an inexplicable defeat, character assassins took pot shots at Secretariat, but the favorite had his revenge in the Derby
by Whitney Tower
Issue date: May 14, 1973
When Secretariat was beaten in such mystifying fashion by Angle Light and Sham in the Wood Memorial three weeks ago, the axiom was recalled: "If a horse is great, you won't have to say, 'Throw that last race out.' The great ones never need that kind of excuse."
After the happening at Churchill Downs last week, the old saw may need revising. Secretariatand his team of Owner Penny Tweedy, Trainer Lucien Laurin and Jockey Ron Turcottewere gloriously redeemed. No colt in history ever picked a better time or place to line up his opponents and mow them down, one by one, with brutal effectiveness. Before the largest crowd to see a horse race in this country (a squirming, screaming and sweating 134,476), Secretariat threw a 23-second final quarter at his "grudge" rival Sham and won the 99th Kentucky Derby in the track-record time of 1:59 2/5. Crossing the finish line, the magnificent chesnut drew a roar of approval. The 3-to-2 favorite on a perfect May day had helped stimulate nearly $8 million into the mutuel windows (including $3,284,962 on the Derby alone). As Turcotte rode back to the winner's circle, doffing his blue cap, the prerace doubters muttered, "Wood Memorial? Throw that race out. We've seen greatness today."