Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Secretariat Just Set The Preakness Stakes Record

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.

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