The spirit of Secretariat was alive and well at the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2. The top five Thoroughbreds to cross the finish line all boasted the 1973 Triple Crown champion in their pedigrees, starting with winner and odds-on favorite American Pharoah.
Pharoah battled it out in the homestretch against Firing Line and Dortmund, who finished second and third respectively. All three are related to Storm Cat, a grandson of Secretariat. Close on their heels were Frosted and Danzig Moon, who have A. P. Indy, the “sire of sires” and a Secretariat grandson, in their lineage. Of the 18 horses in the Derby field, 11 were Secretariat descendants.
Secretariat’s famous Derby record, however, remains unsurpassed. “In 1973, he became the first Derby winner to break the 2-minute mark with his time of 1:59 2/5,” said Leeanne Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park. Ladin gives narrated tours of Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow.
“It’s looking like the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, will bring a rematch between American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund,” Ladin said. That race takes place on May 16 in Baltimore. Firing Line and Dortmund, who have an ongoing feud, will be trying to beat American Pharoah as well as each other. There also will be fresh horses in the field that did not compete in the Derby.
The main focus, however, will be on American Pharoah. If the colt wins the Preakness, speculation about the Triple Crown will kick into high gear prior to the June 6 Belmont Stakes, Ladin noted. No horse has won the Triple Crown since 1978.
“No Triple Crown winner has ever broken all three track records, except our Virginia-born Secretariat,” Ladin said. “His 1973 records still stand today.”
Secretariat’s birthplace is now a Virginia Historic Landmark. For information on narrated tours, visit MeadowEventPark.com.