This Day in Sports History: Secretariat Wins the Preakness

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Secretariat is widely regarded as perhaps the most talented horse in racing history, and his greatness was evident beginning with the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat set a track record of 1:59 seconds at Churchill Downs by fending off Sham for the victory. His win at the Preakness Stakes was not as easy. 

Secretariat got out of the gate slowly on May 19, 1973, but quickly kicked it into high gear as he ran the second quarter mile of the race in less than 22 seconds. With 5 1/2 furloughs left, Secretariat took the lead he would never relinquish, passing Sham and Our Native to win the second leg of the triple crown. 

The victory at Pimlico Race Course did come with a dash of controversy. Secretariat was originally clocked at 1:55, one second short of the course record. But a dispute followed amid a disparity in times from a slate of timers. CBS attempted to run a side by side with Secretariat and Cañonero II–the winner of the 1971 Preakness–but the results were inconclusive. Secretariat was posthumously given the record in 2012 as the Daily Racing Form ruled he completed the course in 1 minute, 53 seconds.

There was no controversy whatsoever as Secretariat chased the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in June. He entered the race as a 1–10 favorite, and quickly demolished the competition, winning the race by a record 31 lengths. 

Secretariat retired in 1974 before being inducted to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He also received recognition from Sports Illustrated as he was named the No. 17 athlete of the last 40 years in 1994.