This Day in Sports History: Triple Triumph


Secretariat at The Belmont Stakes

On June 9, 1973, the American thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat clinched the Triple Crown after thundering to an impressive record-breaking victory at the Belmont Stakes. In fact, the victory that day (in addition to the two other legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes) remains one of the most impressive in horse racing history.

Secretariat was destined for greatness. He was bred from former Preakness winner Bold Ruler and broodmare Somethingroyal, a horse that came from a long line of thoroughbreds known for their stamina. As Secretariat grew, he did not disappoint – he was noted for his extraordinary stature by the time he was 2 years old, measuring the size of a 3-year-old colt.

His first race took place at Aqueduct in New York, but it was not considered a success. Secretariat came in fourth place – the only race during his career in which he finished but did not place. In fact, by the time 1972 drew to a close, Secretariat had won seven of nine events.

He breezed through his first two races in 1973 and was soon a favorite for winning the Triple Crown. He nailed the first victory, the Kentucky Derby, in record time, and remains the record-holder to this day.

Secretariat captured the victory at the Preakness Stakes in similar record-breaking fashion. Although he won the race on this second leg of the Triple Crown, the official clock malfunctioned, and he wound up coming in second in the record books – a fact that was hotly contested for nearly four decades before he was officially ruled the sole owner of the Preakness Stakes record.

During the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat took to the 1.5-mile track in front of a large crowd of nearly 100,000 spectators. He not only won the Belmont Stakes but also blew the competition away, winning by a record 31 lengths in an amazing two minutes and 24 seconds.

Similar to the other two contests, Secretariat’s race time at this track still stands to this day. At the time, he was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in a quarter-century. In fact, only 12 horses have swept their way to victory over the course of the Triple Crown history. The most recent horse to do so was American Pharaoh in 2015, and his clocked time at the Belmont Stakes was 2.5 seconds slower than Secretariat’s time.

From the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness Stakes to the finale of the Belmont Stakes, a horse race can be a pretty exciting two minutes. Although Secretariat’s records may not fall for many years (if ever), it’s fun to watch them try.




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