This is Secretariat's 1973 Preakness Stakes, somehow the least dominant of his Triple Crown races. He finished, officially, in 1:54 2/5, despite the fact that not a single timer had him clocked at that time. Now, 39 years later, the long-dead massive-hearted horse shaved more than a second off his time. He now holds the all-time race record, to go along with record marks in the other two.
Here's what happened. The electronic timer at Pimlico registered 1:55 flat. But two clockers for the Daily Racing Form, the closest thing the sport has to independent experts, both timed him at 1:53 2/5. Officials referred murkily to "extenuating circumstances," and more or less split the different: they officially recorded Secretariat's time at 1:54 2/5.
Today the Maryland Racing Commission held a hearing on Secretariat's run, at the request of owner Penny Chenery and the president of the Maryland Jockey Club. Puck Buddys was livetweeting the whole thing, and it was a bizarre parade of forensics experts, timers, split-screen videos, and frame-by-frame film analysis. And in the end, they didn't give Secretariat the 1:53 2/5 time, which would have tied him with subsequent winners. They gave him 1:53 even, a Preakness record. The tremendous machine keeps working.