Friday, May 02, 2008

35 Years Ago Tomorrow

Two amazing facts about the 1973 Kentucky Derby:

1) Sham broke the Derby record that day, finishing the mile-and-a-quarter race in 1:59 4/5. No horse up to that point (in 98 Derbies) had ever finished the race in less than two-minutes.

But Secretariat beat Sham by 2 1/2 lengths (!!!), finishing in 1:59 2/5, which, after 35 years, remains the fastest time ever in the Kentucky Derby.

Since the 1973 Derby, only one other horse has ever managed to finish the race in less than 2 minutes: Monarchos, in 2001.

2) Secretariat ran each quarter-mile segment of the Derby faster than the previous one. Whereas most horses are tiring at the end of a race, especially in a mile-and-a-quarter race, Secretariat was actually accelerating in the last quarter-mile.


Jeff said...

He was one heck of a hoss. I forgot that he came all the way back from last place. Amazing. What a freak.

Jeff said...

Wow, just checked, and Seattle Slew only has the 34th fastest time (tied with a few others) at 2:02 1/5. Thought he was quicker than that.

Liam said...

Wow, it's true that Sham ran a hell of race. That's something else.

cowboyangel said...

Jeff, he was a bit of a freak:

"Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinarian who performed the necropsy, found that Secretariat's heart was the largest he had ever seen in a horse — approximately twice the size of a normal horse's heart.

'[A]fter performing autopsies on several thousand thoroughbred horses, including mares and stallions, no other horse came close to Secretariat’s heart size.'"

Interestingly, Swerczek goes on to say, "The second largest heart I found was the heart of Sham."

Interesting about Seattle Slew. Maybe it was better he wasn't a super-fast horse - probably helped him win Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. Normally the really fast horses have trouble with Belmont.

cowboyangel said...


Yeah, I didn't actually remember Sham's story until yesterday. Poor guy. He was probably a great horse, but he just happened to race against Secretariat a lot. Finished 2nd to him in the Preakness and challeneged him for about half the race at Belmont before fading.

Sham did, however, beat Secretariat on one occasion: He came in 2nd place in the Wood Memorial that year, ahead of Secretariat, who finished third.

cowboyangel said...


Hey, I think La Reina and I are going to go to Belmont this year. She's never been. Keep it in mind.

Jeff said...

You know, It's a shame that Cigar (great grandson of Northern Dancer) was such a late bloomer. He was an amazing horse, but wasn't doing much as a 3-year old. His big winning streak came later.