Secretariat’s winning time in the 1973 Preakness has been changed to reflect that the Triple Crown-winning colt’s time was actually faster than the stakes record.
The Maryland Racing Commission voted 7-0 on Tuesday in a special hearing at Laurel Park to change the official time of the race from 1:54 2/5 to 1:53. That gives Secretariat records in each of his three Triple Crown races — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — that still stand.
The commission investigated the official timing of the Preakness at the request of Secretariat’s 90-year-old owner, Penny Chenery, and Pimlico president Tom Chuckas.
“I didn’t know if it was appropriate to cheer but I couldn’t help myself,” Chenery said. “This is a big day.”
The commission heard more than two hours of testimony, backed by modern technology, to prove Secretariat’s time was actually faster than the Preakness record of 1:53 2/5, set by Tank’s Prospect in 1985 and equaled by Louis Quatorze in 1996 and Curlin in 2007.
“Justice was served,” Chuckas said. “The Secretariat team made a compelling case that he ran the race in 1:53 flat and added the Preakness record to his resume. This is terrific news for Mrs. Chenery, who has been diligent in her fight for nearly 40 years, and the entire sport of horse racing.”
The electronic timer in use at Pimlico for the 1973 Preakness recorded a winning time of 1:55.
However, the clocking differed from two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form who had each hand-timed the race at a much faster 1:53 2/5.
In the days following the race, stewards and later the racing commission concluded that there were “extenuating circumstances” involving the electronic timer’s recording. As a result, the official time was subsequently changed to 1:54 2/5, the time reported by Pimlico’s official hand clocker.
“It is wonderful for the sport to remove an asterisk and wonderful for the legacy of Secretariat and his fans, who believed he set the record in all three Triple Crown races,” said Leonard Lusky, who represented Chenery at the hearing. “This was a labor of love and it was so important because it was Secretariat and the Preakness, one of the landmark events in horse racing.”
The track record for 1 3/16 mile distance at Pimlico is still held by Farma Way with a time of 1:52 2/5 in the 1991 Pimlico Special.