And it is a dead certainty no horse will break Secretariat's record of 2:24 in the Belmont Stakes today. On that day exactly 39 years ago, the big red horse did something no other horse ever did before--or since. Or, for that matter, likely to EVER do because Secretariat was truly a genetic freak.
The most incredible thing about his race was that at no time was he ever pushed. He probably could have shaved another couple of seconds off his record and won by 100 lengths had he tried.
At least one observer agrees with me:
In an extraordinary effort, Secretariat, the ‘Big Red’ machine, won the in Belmont in a time of 2:24, or an average of 12 seconds per furlong. His average speed that day was 37.5 mph and he won the race by 31 lengths, the equivalent of 83 yards or 76 metres.
His final time was 13 lengths faster than Gallant Man’s previous record. It was 22 lengths faster than Citation and 42 lengths faster than Crusader’s original record in 1926. In a head to head matchup, Secretariat would have crushed the 2011 winner, Ruler On Ice, by 34 lengths.
To this day, it remains the world record for the distance. No horse, anywhere, has ever run a mile and a half as fast.
That's on a dirt surface. I believe Hawkster still holds the record on grass at a partly-downhill course in Santa Anita.
In case you've never seen it:
Interesting to note that the motel room I stayed in during my 1989 Kentucky visit had the number of "224."