Ask just about anybody: What was the greatest race of all time? You will get people that will say the 1938 match race at Pimlico between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Others may respond Dr. Fager's 1968 Washington Park Handicap, citing his ten length victory and a world record mile in 1:32.1. A record that stood some four decades. You might hear Man o' War and his 1920 Belmont Stakes which he won by 20 lengths. The list and arguement is endless.
But my favorite is Secretariat's 1973 Belmont Stakes. He was trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation 25 years earlier and did so with a historical performance. I will just tell you, everytime I hear track announcer Chick Anderson say that Secretariat is "running like a tremendous machine" I get choked up. Tears and all. The heck with it! I said it.
But my favorite part of this race is at the wire, when jockey Ron Turcotte looks back over his left shoulder, apparently in an effort to see how far behind the other horses were. But for years, I had thought he may be looking at something else. I thought I would never know until I met Ron Turcotte at Lone Star Park in 1998 and asked him where he was looking. Turcotte vindicated my theory by saying that he was looking at the infield toteboard and waiting for the official time of the race to flash on the teletimer. "I just wanted to see how fast he was actually running," Turcotte told me. He said he just couldn't believe a horse could run that fast.
Sham, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to Secretariat by just over 5 combined lengths, faded to last after trying to keep pace with Secratariat early in this Belmont. He never raced again.