In a unanimous 7-0 decision this week at Laurel Park, the Maryland Racing commission voted to change Secretariat’s official time in the 1973 Preakness to 1:53, which eclipses the previous Preakness record of 1:54 set by Canonero II in 1971, as well as the 1:53 2/5 shared by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007).
Secretariat’s record times in the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5) and the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes (2:24, against wind in the backstretch) also still stand. His official electronically recorded time in the Preakness was charted at 1:55, but changed to 1:54 2/5 two days later based on the Pimlico clocker’s manually recorded time. But two staff members of the Daily Racing Form independently clocked the performance at 1:53 2/5, increasing doubt about the validity of the track’s “officially” adjusted time.
“It is wonderful for the sport to remove an asterisk and wonderful for the legacy of Secretariat and his fans, who believed he set the record in all three Triple Crown races,” said Leonard Lusky, who represented Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery. It was Chenery and Tom Chuckas, president of Pimlico race track, who requested an investigation into the matter, and modern film synchronization techniques were called upon to resolve the controversy once and for all.
Click here to watch Secretariat’s awe-inspiring Preakness performance; note that rider Ron Turcotte never uses the whip.