Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sports Illustrated & Secretariat in 1973

I'll admit to not knowing very much about football, baseball, basketball and other sports, but I am willing to wager that little else can inspire a sportswriter like the turf.  And where would horse racing be without the flocks of writers, photographers and artists to sing of the conquests and rivalries on the track? In the older days of the premier sports magazine of the country, Sports Illustrated, one can find many results of this happy union of writer and turf. 

40 years ago, a host of masterful writers chronicled the Secretariat saga of 1973 for Sports Illustrated. Here, I have compiled an orderly list of the articles from this publication on Big Red circa 1973 (minor news blurbs were skipped).

March 26, 1973: Oh Lord, He's Perfect (Pat Putnam)

If God were to make the ultimate racehorse, It would be Secretariat, or so they say at the track. He is the world's most expensive animal, one with ideal form and Derby prospects

For Secretariat, the Bay Shore Stakes was to be a nice little romp across seven furlongs of slop and then back to the barn for a meal and a massage. From somewhere they found five colts willing to run for second money, and they laid 126 pounds on the giant coppery dude to keep it decent, but as John Campo, the trainer of one starter in the race, said, "The only chance we got is if he falls down." Still Secretariat could race five Sherman tanks and he would make it exciting. He is a majestic brute with great rippling muscles and a showman's flair for romping from far back to win.

Continue reading "Oh Lord, He's Perfect" at Sports Illustrated...

April 30, 1973: Putting A New Light On The Derby (Whitney Tower)

It was not just that Angle Light won the last major prep for the classic at Churchill Downs, but the fact that he upset the wondrous chestnut, Secretariat, who had been heralded as another Man o'War

Before the Wood Memorial the 1973 Run for the Roses was being conceded to Secretariat despite the fact that until last week he had never tried running beyond a mile and a sixteenth. He was the big, glamorous chestnut who could do it all on any kind of track. He could run on the pace or come from behind. He could circle his fields or bull his way through them. They gave him names like Sexy or Big Red II, for here was the second coming of Man o'War, another horse of the people like Native Dancer, Kelso and Carry Back. They considered him a shoo-in to become the first colt since Citation in 1948 to capture the Triple Crown.

Continue reading "Putting A New Light On The Derby" at Sports Illustrated...

May 14, 1973: It Was Murder (Whitney Tower)

After an inexplicable defeat, character assassins took pot shots at Secretariat, but the favorite had his revenge in the Derby

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 chestnut 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." 

Continue reading "It Was Murder" at Sports Illustrated...

May 28, 1973: Flying High And Heading For Fame (Whitney Tower)

In a mood to rout any opposition, Secretariat rolled around the field to win a memorable Preakness. At his next stop, a crown awaits

Secretariat's Derby act seemed nearly impossible to follow, but his Preakness was no letdown. True, he broke no track record as he had at Churchill Downs, but he was sensational enough. His Preakness was the third fastest ever, and it demonstrated the tremendous versatility of the colt. In the Derby, Secretariat came from last place to nail Sham in the stretch. This time, just like his daddy Bold Ruler 16 years earlier, Secretariat was allowed to run on his own and he played catch-me-if-you-can masterfully.

Continue reading "Flying High And Heading For Fame" at Sports Illustrated...

June 11, 1973: Boss Tweedy: Lady With A Lot Of Horse (Martha Duffy)

Meadow Stable's director has had a crash education in racing. Secretariat could now confer on her the ultimate degree

Mrs. Tweedy is the most visible owner in racing in a long time, and the closest thing to a new face that settled Establishment has. In manner and life-style she is considerably removed from more flamboyant racing ladies, such as Elizabeth Arden. Penny Tweedy is practical and energetic, as careful with time as with The Meadow budget. When giving an interview she may be sewing on buttons. On Long Island her only help is a part-time secretary and a cleaning woman.
Continue reading "Boss Tweedy: Lady With A Lot Of Horse" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

June 11, 1973: Triple Crown Criteria: Secretariat Has The Goods (Whitney Tower)

In this week's 105th Belmont, Secretariat has the best chance at a Triple since Tim Tarn. If he wins he will be called another super horse. If he loses, as he did with such inexplicable and casual indifference in the Wood Memorial in April, this will hardly be written off as "just another race," but it will again emphasize how difficult the Triple Crown is to acquire.  

Continue reading "Triple Crown Criteria: Secretariat Has The Goods" at Sports Illustrated...

June 18, 1973: History In The Making (Whitney Tower) 

Secretariat is 50 feet from the finish line and the race is won—but Jockey Ron Turcotte steals a look at the infield teletimer on his way to a pulverizing Belmont victory and the Triple Crown

The 105th Belmont Stakes will rank among sport's most spectacular performances, right up there with Joe Louis' one-round knockout of Max Schmeling and the Olympic feats of Jessie Owens, Jean-Claude Killy and Mark Spitz. Even in horse racing, where track records are a fairly common occurrence, an animal just does not go around beating an established mark by nearly three seconds. It would be as if Joe Namath threw 10 touchdown passes in a game or Jack Nicklaus shot a 55 in the Open.

Continue reading "History In The Making" at Sports Illustrated...

June 18, 1973: Out Of The Woods And Into The Limelight (Ernest Havemann)

To Ronald Turcotte, first jockey to win the Triple Crown since Eddie Arcaro did it in 1948, the Belmont was a nice little ride in an easy chair. Turcotte loves to get aboard stakes horses. "Ninety percent of them are easier to ride than the cheaper horses," he says. "They're as determined to win as you are." He loves to ride Secretariat. ("That horse is all business.") And he especially loves to ride a horse like Secretariat in a weight-for-age stake like the Belmont, where all the horses carry 126 pounds.

Continue reading "Out Of The Woods And Into The Limelight" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

July 9, 1973: Crunch Went The Big Red Apple (George Plimpton)

Just for laughs—and $75,000—Secretariat ate up another field, this time before an adoring audience in the Midwest

Once again, racing has a people's horse. Man o' War was the first of these. As one of the obituaries said of him when he died 25 years ago: "He touched the imagination of men, and they saw different things in him. But one thing they will all remember, that he brought an exaltation into their hearts."

Continue reading "Crunch Went The Big Red Apple" at Sports Illustrated...

July 30, 1973: $16 Million On The Hoof (Ernest Havemann) 

Three of the most expensive horses ever—$6 million Secretariat (left) and the $5 million handicappers Riva Ridge (right) and Key to the Mint—are set to sizzle

This is the year of the Meadow Stud, which owns Riva Ridge (two record performances) and Secretariat (three of them, and a sweep of the Triple Crown). Secretariat has been syndicated for $6 million and last week plans were being completed to syndicate Riva Ridge for more than $5 million. So, side by side in Trainer Lucien Laurin's stable at Belmont Park was over $11 million in horseflesh, the two costliest thoroughbreds in training anywhere and perhaps the two best. But there they stayed last Saturday afternoon, though the $100,000 Suburban, the most prestigious handicap race in the nation, was being run only a few miles away at Aqueduct.

Continue reading "$16 Million On The Hoof" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

August 13, 1973: Marlboro Country Is A Vale Of Tears (Whitney Tower) 

Onion left 'em crying by upsetting Secretariat in the Whitney. For Penny Tweedy and some other very interested parties who had banked on the favorite's success, it turned out to be close, but no cigarette

Man o' War lost the only race of his career in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in 1919. Eleven years later, Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox came a cropper to long shot Jim Dandy in the Travels. That sort of thing could not happen again, said the 30,119 hero-worshipers who congregated to see Secretariat in last week's running of the Whitney Stakes. But it did. Going off at 1-to-10 odds before the largest crowd ever to watch racing at New York's upstate spa, Secretariat labored along the inside of a fast but dull strip and finished the mile and an eighth a length behind a fine horse named Onion, who belongs to stockbroker Jack Dreyfus (absent for the occasion). A 5-to-1 second choice, Onion led every step of the way.

Continue reading "Marlboro Country Is A Vale Of Tears"at Sports Illustrated...

August 20, 1973: Scorecard – Sick Secretariat (Robert W. Creamer, editor)

When Secretariat was beaten by Onion in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, most horsemen and bettors chalked off the stunning upset as just one of those things that happen now and then in racing. After all, Man o' War and Citation lost, too. Then it was announced last weekend that the superhorse would not run in the Travers this coming Saturday because of coughing, and people began to wonder. Finally, it came out that before the Whitney, Secretariat had been under the weather for nearly a week, running a slight temperature off and on.

Continue reading "Scorecard – Sick Secretariat" at Sports Illustrated...

September 24, 1973: They Made Pigeons Of The Field (Whitney Tower) 

Secretariat was the matchless winner and Riva Ridge an imposing second in a smoking-fast Marlboro Cup

Riva took over from Onion, but here came Secretariat. Taking no chances of being caught along the rail by tiring horses, Turcotte ran well outside his rivals. He started a long, gradual move that took him to a head-and-head confrontation with Riva Ridge at the top of the stretch and put him into a clear lead just after the pair had passed the three-sixteenth pole. From there on it was all gravy. Riva Ridge, who had run well himself on a track he did not fancy, was still two lengths ahead of the fast-closing Californian, Cougar, who had nearly seven lengths on fourth-place Onion. Behind the latter came Annihilate 'Em, Kennedy Road and Key to the Mint. The time, nearly a second faster than Desert Vixen's record in the previous race, had been equaled only by Tentam on the turf at Saratoga and never anywhere before on a dirt track.

Continue reading "They Made Pigeons Of The Field" at Sports Illustrated...

October 08, 1973: This Man Is Dangerous! (Whitney Tower) 

As Secretariat's fans well know, Trainer Allen Jerkens, first with Onion, now with Prove Out, is making a career of wrecking the choochoo train

The dangerous man was Allen Jerkens, trainer for Jack Dreyfus. Only a week before the transaction for Prove Out, Jerkens had sent out the lightly regarded Onion to register that stunning setback to Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes. Last week at Belmont Park, Jerkens did it again and in the process convinced innumerable people that if he does not deserve to be called the best horse trainer in the United States, he at least has two-third rights to Secretariat's trainer, Lucien Laurin. A few more victories like Prove Out's over Secretariat in the mile-and-a-half Woodward and Jerkens will own Laurin outright—plus his farm in South Carolina and his house in Key Largo.

Continue reading "This Man Is Dangerous!" at Sports Illustrated...

November 05, 1973: Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends... (Frank Deford) 

In the gloom and mist at Toronto, in the crisp sunlight of Aqueduct, Meadow Stable's two big horses bid farewell to racing. Only Secretariat won, but a multitude of fans will remember both with fondness

Hard by the hedge, snorting steam in the raw twilight like some mythical beast running across a faded storybook, he drove alone through the mist and almost, it seemed, out of the low lake clouds, and won at his leisure, from here to there. "Thank you," said the jockey. "Hello, you beautiful thing," said the owner. And now goodby, Secretariat.

Continue reading "Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends..." at Sports Illustrated...

1 comment:

J-Law said...

What an angel you are, putting all that together for us who are still so awed by the memory of the spectacular Secretariat.

One of my greatest regrets in life is not having gone to see him when he was alive. I was 24 when he died. Like so many others, when I heard he was gone, I cried my eyes out.

I hope they have his DNA preserved somewhere.