Sunday, June 09, 2013

More on Secretariat's Belmont

Found this article from 1998 from the Baltimore Sun marking the 25th anniversary of his Belmont win. This quoted jockeys who were "lucky" enough to get slaughtered by the big red comet:

Ask those who rode against him.

"Greatest horse I ever saw," said Laffit Pincay Jr., still racing at age 51.

"I watched his tail a lot of times," said Angel Cordero Jr., a member of the National Jockeys Hall of Fame. "I feel honored to have been whipped by Secretariat. It's like getting your butt beat by Muhammad Ali."

Twenty-five years later, Braulio Baeza can still hear the hooves crashing past as Big Red churned by him in the Belmont.

And then the horse just vanished. Baeza's mount ran second that day, losing by the length of a football field.

"By the time my horse got to where Secretariat had been, the dust had already settled," said Baeza, another Hall of Famer. "Beat him? Only with a jet."


And this is good:

Far back, Cordero, Baeza and their mounts struggled to stay within camera range. Cordero actually believed they were gaining on the leader.

"Every time I looked up, Secretariat looked smaller and smaller, which is what happens when a horse gets tired -- he looks scrunched up," Cordero said. "So I'd yell over to Baeza, 'We're getting close -- look how little he is.' "

At the sixteenth-pole, Baeza shouted back: "Forget it. He just finished the race."

_____

From two years ago is this very nice column about CBS track announcer Chic Anderson's famous call of the race, which is almost as famous as the race itself.

Anderson, who was a low-key announcer, captured the unbelievable performance perfectly.

Anderson, of course, was blessed with a great event. No horse had won the Triple Crown in 25 years when Secretariat made his bid on June 9, 1973, and the anticipation was feverish.

But Anderson didn't exploit it. He never got overwrought or wordy. He let the tone and timbre of his voice - not its volume - convey the excitement. Even if you'd never seen a horse race, you'd have sensed this was something special.

When the gate opened that afternoon, there was a slight edge to Anderson's voice as he noted how Secretariat had grabbed good position along the rail. Eventually the legendary horse and rival Sham pulled away from the small field and Anderson suggested it had become "almost a match race."

Then, as the two leaders neared the backside turn, Secretariat began to open a gap. Anderson's voice lifted an octave or two as he commenced the concluding half of what still remains the best sporting event I've ever witnessed, live or on TV.

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