Tuesday, June 10, 2014

(Related update 3): Secretariat: The Greatest Race Horse Ever

Related update 3:  In the previous entry of this thread, I made a bold prediction about the final time of the winner of the Belmont Stakes run this past Saturday evening.  I also indicated that I would post on the results of my prognostication, either eating humble pie if I was proven incorrect, or gloating if my analysis was correct.  Although I decided not to actually gloat, I should say that I pretty much nailed the outcome.

Secretariat ran 2:24 in winning the 1973 Belmont by an astounding 31 lengths (if you haven't done so already, I strongly urge you to click on the link below and watch the video of that incredible performance).  I predicted that the winner of this year's Belmont -- and though I didn't indicate as much, I didn't think California Chrome would win -- would not be able to record a time fast enough to be within 20 lenghts of Secretariat's time.  Based on the info I presented in the earlier posts of this thread, this means that any winning time of 2:27.80 or faster would prove me wrong; any winning time of 2.28.01 or slower would prove me correct.  The actual winning time of the victor, Tonalist, was 2.28.52, thus supporting my prediction.  Converted to lengths, this time would have placed Tonalist 22 1/2 lengths behind Secretariat.

Last comments on the amazing Secretariat: 41 years ago Secretariat not only won the Triple Crown, but in so doing, set the track records for each of the three events.  That had never been done before.  But that's not all: all three of those records still stand to this very day, 41 years later, an astounding fact. 

Related update 2 (5/18/14):  Keeping with the general theme of this string of posts  -- that Secretariat was amazingly faster than today's horses -- let's compare his Preakness performance to that of California Chrome, who won the Preakness yesterday.  Secretariat still has the all-time Preakness and Pimlico track record for the distance, 1:53.00.  Yesterday, California Chrome won in 1:54.84.  So based on the formulation described below, Secretariat's time was about 1 and 4/5th seconds faster than Calfornia Chrome's.  Converted to lengths, this implies that Secretariat would have beat California Chrome by 9 lengths!

Now please don't make the leap to the conclusion that since CC cut his hypothetical loss distance to Secretariat in half (from 18 lengths in The Kentucky Derby to 9 in the Preakness), he might end up running a Belmont that would put him just a few lengths behind Big Red.  Why do I say this?  Because of three Triple Crown races he ran, Secretariat's best performance was, by far, in the Belmont.  In fact, horse race historians and professional speed race handicappers routinely consider his Belmont performance the single greatest race ever ran by a thoroughbred.  In that race, Secretariat won by an impossible 31 lengths!.  You can click here to see a video of that amazing performance.

So here's a prediction: I claim that the winner of the 2014 Belmont, whoever it turns out to be, will not run a time fast enough to have finished within 20 lengths of Secretariat's time.  And I'll make sure to check back and update this thread to either a) gloat, or b) eat humble pie.

Update (5/4/2014): Now that the 2014 Derby is over, we know the winning time -- 2.03.00.  Generally speaking, horse race handicappers equate a 1/5 of a second with one length, so that a horse that runs a race 3/5ths of a second faster than a competitor finishes about 3 lengths ahead of that horse.  So, based on yesterday's race, Secretariat would have beaten California Chrome by 18 lengths!

Original post: I didn't see this infographic in time to make a post yesterday, Derby Day, so I thought I'd make it today's first post.  The graphic shows how far ahead Secretariat -- who has owned the track and race records for all three of the Triple Crown events since his incredible year of 1973 -- would have finished ahead of each and every Kentucky Derby winner since its inception.

Click here to read the article, which actually not about Secretariat per se.  By the way, if you're a Secretariat fan and haven't done so already, I strongly recommend that you watch the movie, Secretariat.  John Malkovich is tremendous as Lucien Laurin.