Haskin's Belmont Report: Remembering Big Red

Steve Jordan will be celebrating his 64th birthday on Saturday; a day that could be made more exciting if I’ll Have Another should win the Belmont Stakes and become the first horse in 34 years to sweep the Triple Crown. But this will not be the first time Jordan’s birthday fell on a day when a Triple Crown sweep was on the line.

It happened on his 25th birthday in 1973. Jordan works out of Barn 4 on the Belmont backstretch as assembly barn coordinator. The “assembly” barn is where all horses must go before heading to the paddock prior to a race. The next barn over, about 50 yards away, is Barn 5, where Jordan worked for 16 years, first as a hotwalker and groom for Lucien Laurin, with whom he became very close, and then as assistant to Lucien’s son Roger.

On his desk in Barn 4 are two treasured photographs – one of him walking Secretariat and the other holding Riva Ridge as the colt eyed an admiring kitten perched atop the fence post the morning after Riva broke the world record in the Brooklyn Handicap.


Steve Jordan and Big Red

Although it’s been nearly 40 years and almost everyone from Barn 5 is gone, the memories are still fresh in Jordan’s mind as he recalls one of the most remarkable periods in racing and sports history and the colorful cast of equine and human characters who became household names across the country.

This was the era of Secretariat; a name that still echoes through the chambers of time. And Jordan was there every step of the way.

When he wakes up on Saturday and crosses off another year on the calendar and prepares to witness history once again, he can think back to the morning of June 9, 1973 and the anticipation in Barn 5 and the feeling of just wanting to get the inevitable over with. Jordan and everyone else in the barn knew they were, as the Moody Blues would say, “on the threshold of a dream.”

They were ready and Secretariat was ready. Boy was he ready.  

“(Exercise rider) Charlie Davis was walking Secretariat around the walking ring,” Jordan recalled. “We had a pony shed in the yard with a tree next to it. All of a sudden, Secretariat rears up and Charlie has his hands full trying to get control of him. We look up and there’s this photographer up in the tree. Secretariat obviously heard the click of his camera. We got him back in the barn and chased the photographer away. I was going, ‘Whoa, it didn’t take much to set him off; just the click of a camera.’ That’s how sharp he was. He was always a manageable horse, and if he wasn’t he could have easily tipped over as strong as he was. I knew he was ready to do something special.

“I said, ‘If anyone thinks Sham or anybody else is going to beat this horse today they have no idea what they’re in store for. I remember saying to a writer that morning, ‘:24 flat.’ He said, ‘You really think he’s going to get away with a :24 opening quarter?’ I said, ‘No, 2:24 flat.’ He looked at me like I was nuts and walked away.”

Jordan had a friend coming in for the race and they had seats in the clubhouse. He remembers watching Secretariat draw away “like a tremendous machine” and getting caught up the pandemonium like everyone else.

“As soon as he put Sham away, the grandstand literally started to shake,” he said. “The place was rocking. I had never felt anything like that before. You look at the fractions he’s putting up and you ask yourself, ‘Could this be possible?’ He just kept widening and widening. Even after all these years I still get chills watching it. I remember after the race, it was a feeling of relief more than anything.

“Everyone had been so confident leading up to the race. We all considered Sham a very good horse. Pincay had tried everything he could to try to beat Red, and you had to wonder, how much could he have left? But there were still people who believed Sham would beat Secretariat going a mile and a half. The few of us that are left will tell you that Secretariat really hadn’t learned how to run at that point. He didn’t learn to run until the fall of his 3-year-old year. In the spring, he was strong and exuberant, and it was almost like a young professional athlete doing everything just on talent. It wasn’t until the fall that we all said, ‘Now, this is really getting scary. He’s really starting to take this seriously.’ There’s no telling what he would have been as a 4-year-old. When he won the Man o’ War, he was amazing. Tentam was a really good horse and he tried him and tried him and Secretariat just flicked him away like a bug.”

Jordan had been living in Detroit and was a huge racing fan, following Riva Ridge through the 1972 Triple Crown. He had married his high school sweetheart, and she saw how strong the lure of the racetrack was to her husband, so she encouraged him to go to the track and get it out of his system. That summer he spent the month with his brother, who lived in Glens Falls, about 15 miles north of Saratoga. He went to the Saratoga backstretch looking for work, even though he had no experience working with horses. Of course, the first trainer he went to was Lucien Laurin, who tried his best to talk Jordan out of pursuing a life at the track. Each day they two would talk up in the clocker’s stand and eventually became close.

Finally, during the final week of the meet, Laurin asked him. ‘So, young man, what are you going to do now?’ Jordan told him he was going to look for a job either at Belmont or Monmouth.

An incredulous Laurin said, “I spent the whole month up here discouraging you from getting on the racetrack. It’s bad for family life, the hours are long and hard, and it’s very unrewarding initially. Why would you leave your hometown to do this?”

Jordan replied, “Mr. Laurin, I don’t live in Saratoga; I live in Detroit.” Laurin had no idea and he told Jordan, “Come by my barn Thursday morning and I’ll give you a job.”

And so, Jordan was thrust into a new world, a new life, and the biggest whirlwind ever to hit the Sport of Kings. He got to work with Riva Ridge, as well an up-and-coming 2-year-old named Secretariat. Years later, Philadelphia Daily News reporter Dick Jerardi interviewed Jordan and used the analogy of a baseball player coming out of the minor leagues and immediately becoming the centerfielder for the New York Yankees in the World Series.


Steve Jordan, Riva Ridge, and Friend


“No one at the time really knew the magnitude of what was happening, but it didn’t take long for everyone to realize something special was going on here,” Jordan said. “Of course, there was nowhere near the media scrutiny in those days as there is now, with Twitter and all the forms of communication and social media.”

What media pressure there was really started after Penny Chenery (then Penny Tweedy) syndicated Secretariat for a record $6.08 million. What people never knew was how close the Secretariat story came to going up in smoke, literally, shortly after the syndication.

“After the syndication, I never really noticed any difference in the day-to-day operation, although there was a bit more pressure having a horse worth that much money,” Jordan recalled. “I remember we were at Hialeah that winter. Greentree was stabled right behind us and Eddie Yowell and Del Carroll shared the barn right next us. One day, in the middle of the night, there was a fire in Yowell and Carroll’s barn and it burned down, with all the horses getting killed. It was so bad, Greentree’s hay nets caught on fire, that’s how close it came to us.”

Secretariat finally got to the races at 3, having to lug around that “Six Million Dollar Horse” title. He swept through the Bay Shore Stakes and Gotham Stakes with no problem, and then came his showdown with California sensation Sham in the Wood Memorial. The race proved to be one of the shockers of all time, as Secretariat and Sham not only both lost, the winner was Secretariat’s stablemate Angle Light. That was the worst possible thing that could have happened to Laurin. He had beaten his own horse, who was worth more money than any other horse in history. The look on Laurin’s face in the awkward winner’s circle photo pretty much told the story. He would have to answer to Penny, and he would have to answer to the fans and the syndicate members who were all prepared to witness the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.

“What people didn’t realize was that Angle Light was a pretty good horse who had run some big races in stakes, had two mile and an eighth stakes under his belt, and was on the top of his game,” Jordan said. “No one chased him in the Wood. They paid no attention to him, and he just kept going. Lucien was sick to his stomach. He knew what the implications were having Secretariat not only lose, but finish third. That’s when the pressure really started, and rekindled the talk about Bold Ruler and the mile and a quarter. Things started to snowball from there, with the syndicate members now having doubts after believing he was going to win the Triple Crown.”

Of course, it was discovered later that Secretariat had an abscess in his mouth and wasn’t able to grab hold of the bit. Jordan, however, knew nothing about an abscess and said no one mentioned a thing about it.

“That’s a story full of conjecture,” he said. “I’m not saying whether it happened or didn’t happen, I only heard about it later on, so I had no way of knowing. Eddie Sweat (Secretariat’s groom) and I were close and he never hinted anything about that. But then maybe he was told not to. I really don’t know.”

The only thing anyone knew was that Secretariat had worked a mile slower than usual before the Wood, and wound up turning in an uncharacteristically dull race.

Secretariat’s next defeat came that summer in the Whitney at the hands of Onion, which was perhaps the biggest shocker of them all, considering Big Red had won the Triple Crown and followed it up with an easy victory at Arlington Park before breaking two track records in a workout in the mud at Saratoga, prepping for the Whitney. After the defeat, it was announced that Secretariat had a virus and fever and would miss the Travers. This time, Jordan knew for a fact that Big Red was a sick horse.

“He was definitely sick for the Whitney,” he said. “I can’t recall any trepidation going into the race, but most of the time these things explode from the stress of a race. And I’m sure he was incubating something going into the race. Afterward, we just walked him for eight to 10 days. One morning I was out grazing him, and back then we used only a single chain. Out of nowhere, he started raising hell and rearing up right near the old wooden manure pit. The first thing I did was look to see where my car was parked, because I knew if he got loose I’m going right to my car and saying sayonara to the racing game; I’m gone. I jumped inside the manure pit to brace myself, and he finally settled down. I was ashen and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I looked up and saw Penny and Lucien standing at the end of the shedrow and they’re both smiling. Lucien yells to me, ‘Stevie, you can bring him in now. I guess he’s feeling better, isn’t he?’”

Jordan had discovered earlier just how strong Big Red was when the colt lifted him off the ground just by sneezing.

The inaugural Marlboro Cup was getting close and everything had to go perfectly for Secretariat to make the race. The race initially was designed as a match race between Secretariat and Riva Ridge, but the Whitney defeat and a Riva Ridge loss on the grass took the luster out of that concept, and it was changed to an invitational, with the best horses in the country invited. But could Big Red make the race?

“One morning I was standing in the yard with Lucien and (assistant) Henny Hefner and Lucien said, ‘I don’t know, this is really squeezing on this horse to make this race after being as sick as he was. This is a big task facing all these good horses,’” Jordan recalled. “Henny always had a way of putting things in perspective, and he shrugged his shoulders and just said, “Well, boss, then we’ll just win in it with the other horse.’”

History shows that Secretariat, after turning in a brilliant final work, blew by Riva Ridge in the stretch and won the Marlboro Cup in world-record time.

“After the race, I was standing by the rail and Charlie Whittingham, who had Cougar and Kennedy Road in the race, was down there waiting for them to come back,” Jordan said. “Cougar (who finished a well-beaten third) came back first. (Bill) Shoemaker jumped off Cougar no more than five yards from me and pulled the tack off and just looked at Charlie, and all he said was, “Charlie, those are two runnnin’ sonofabitches that beat us.”

When Lucien Laurin retired, Jordan, who had also worked for a short while at The Meadow, became an assistant to Roger Laurin during the days of Chief’s Crown, whose groom was Eddie Sweat. He then went out on his own, training from 1986 to 2003 before returning to New York, where he worked as the Race Day Barn Security Coordinator. He remembers one year at Delaware Park, it was Kentucky Derby day, and he was saddling a horse he owned in a $5,000 claiming race and he was 50-1.

That was a harsh awakening that the days of Secretariat and Riva Ridge and the Triple Crown were long gone. But Big Red and Riva and Lucien and Penny and everyone in Barn 5 had become his family, and family memories remain vivid forever. As Jordan said, “You savor things whenever you can savor them and the years don’t take that away from you.”

45 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Dawn in MN

Thank you Mr. Haskin.  If it is about Secretariat I am riveted.  This story about Mr. Jordan was even better than a double scoop icecream cone.  Oh, to have been a fly on those walls.  Love that picture.  Any chance of showing the photo with Secretariat?  

04 Jun 2012 8:09 PM
derblin

What a wonderful story, Steve.  I remember watching Secretariat win the Triple Crown in the Student Union Building at the University of Kentucky, with Happy Chandler also in attendence.  When it was over people were in shock.

Love all your stories, Steve, and I'll have another one of them whenever you chose to treat the bloggers on here.

04 Jun 2012 8:14 PM
Intothebridle

Thanks very much for honoring Steve Jordan in this very enlightening and entertaining story. When one is fortuitous enough to come into contact with true greatness like a Secretariat, life will never be the same and however difficult one's life may become, this silver lining will forever brighten the darkest clouds. I have always considered Secretariat's Belmont the most impressive and spectacular athletic acheivement, equine or human, that I have and will ever witness. I have been immensely privileged to be around and close to some incredible racehorses and have, at least, some idea of how Mr. Jordan felt then and continues to feel today. When you get into a great horse's space there simply are no words that can adequately describe the feeling.  

04 Jun 2012 8:55 PM
Grande Fan

Those were great days and times to remember. It's been a good number of years, but the memories still bring me chills. I'm ready to do it again and I think "I'll Have Another" too.

04 Jun 2012 9:28 PM
Bill Two

Great story, Steve.  Secretariat didn't just beat a bunch of nobodies.  He trounced really good horses like Cougar II with regularity. Riva Ridge was also an exceptional horse and would have been remembered as a great horse had the Preakness not have been run on a very sloppy track that he obviously had no love for and if he wasn't overshadowed by Secretariat. Just look at Riva's record and the track records he shattered plus the fields he beat and you realize just how great Meadow Stable was in 1973.  Those were giants in an era of giants.  On turf you had Tentam who definitely was a superior turf horse. Big Spruce was another top turf horse of that era.  In California you had Cougar II, Kennedy Road, Quack, and others who were of top quality.  There are many more whose names escape me now, but suffice it to say that the year 1973 was a truly great year for horse racing and no horse was greater than the immortal Secretariat.  May he rest in peace.

04 Jun 2012 9:36 PM
DianaP

any of us that watched that Triple Crown will relive the memory time and time again. Steve. Jordan is just a bit luckier than the rest of us.

04 Jun 2012 10:34 PM
an ole railbird

jam-up good articule. i really enjoyed it. those articules of times past, about the barn help, the little people behind the scenes. they are really great. without those people there would be no racing, period..."an ole railbird".

04 Jun 2012 10:35 PM
Windy City

Another GREAT article, but Mrs Penny can say the same: she's been looking for any success with Secretariat/RR descendants without any luck...I guess we have to live any moment like it is our last one. Great reading, I wish I saw him or any next TC winner but unfortunately wasn't born until a year after the last one :-( I really hope IHA can do it, it would be once in a lifetime thing. Mr. Haskin, are you planing to come for Arlington Million to Windy City? Best of luck to all runners!

04 Jun 2012 11:22 PM
cindy thomas

Big Red will always be my horse, the one that gave me goosebumps, kept the magic alive and still brings me to tears. But that doesn't mean I don't want to see another Triple Crown. Please I'll have another!

05 Jun 2012 12:06 AM
egill

Another great article, Steve. I rewatched Secretariat's Triple Crown races yesterday. What an amazing creature. I have his Breyer model and I treasure it the most of all (along with Ruffian's). I was not yet born during Sec's run. But I love him just the same. Always nice to hear about Riva too...he is often left out because of Sec's greatness.  He was amazing as well. I had never heard about Mr. Jordan. Nice way of honoring his story.

05 Jun 2012 12:18 AM
Steve Haskin

Dawn, I have to admit I forgot to take a photo of the Secretariat photo, and Steve wasnt working Monday. If I can get in his office Tuesday morning I'll shoot it and get it online.

Windy City, as of now I have no plans to come for the Million. But it is one of my favorite outings. I love Arlington Park.

05 Jun 2012 12:27 AM
ksweatman9

Without the "livestock", as you so eloquently put it ole railbird, there would be no racing. To all the ponies who left their lives on the track for our enjoyment, to those who were rewarded for their hard work by having to take their last breath in a slaughter house, to the "livestock", I love you and appreciate you, and I wish everyone did. In my eyes, you will never be mere "livestock". You know, I really tried to let the livestock comment go unanswered, but as you see, in the end, I couldn't.

05 Jun 2012 1:25 AM
Baby Jane Towser

Wow! Great stuff Steve - so he was just getting serious in the fall - I always thought the Man O' War was his most impressive race - Unmatched beauty just going so easy on the lead - Turcotte says he was better on turf - He could have won the Arc!!!

05 Jun 2012 2:27 AM
Anncat

On June 9, 1973, we were moving.  All we had left in the house we were leaving were 4 lawn chairs and the TV set hooked up.  Everything else had been taken by the movers on Friday, or was packed into our cars.  We sat down and watched the most remarkable horse that ever lived run the race of his lifetime to earn the Triple Crown.  I still cry when I see that smudgy film.  I do have to say that it wasn't the greatest horse race I've ever seen, because it really was no contest.  It was performance art of the highest quality.

You spoke earlier, Steve, about those who were not alive yet in 1973 and who had never seen a TC be achieved.  I almost remember Citation, as I was 8 at the time.  I clearly remember watching Native Dancer lose the Derby and the Triple Crown in the process.

I'm really hoping that we will finally have another Triple Crown to cry about on Saturday.

05 Jun 2012 2:58 AM
Susan W.

What a WONDERFUL story!  Those days are gone --- but this article brings them back to me.  Secretariat was simply amazing.

It is so extraordinary to have these personal recollections about him to cherish.  Thank you, Mr. Haskin!

05 Jun 2012 5:34 AM
A Horsey Canuck

Steve, I echo Cindy Thomas's words completely. I was fortunate enough to witness (albeit only on TV), Secretariat's TC in 1973. I hope that, similar to that morning in that year, that "Saturday, June 9th, the day of reckoning", will break "bright and clear", and that another big red horse with Canadian connections, will show us what "perfection" is all about in this game we call horse racing. In my humble opinion, no horse will EVER come close to accomplishing a Triple Crown like Secretariat did in 1973, but I hope that I'll Have Another gives us all that thrill that we have been waiting for since 1978. If the Triple Crown doesn't happen, we will still be able to thank I'll Have Another and Team O'Neill for bringing back the excitement and anticipation that has alluded us for so many years. Ride into history on your big red horse, Mario!

05 Jun 2012 6:10 AM
Skip

Love the stories about Big Red, still have the magazines from that time.

Just one small error, if Jordan was 21 in '73 he'll be tuning 60 not 64. I know 60 is the new 40 or so they keep telling me but that'd make me 4 years older than I am as well. LOL

05 Jun 2012 6:38 AM
Buzz

Had the thrill of meeting Big Red in person in 1974 on a hot, humid Sunday morning at Claiborne. Never saw him race but I got to give him a pat. That was an unforgettable moment for a young person in love with the sport -- and the victor of the TC!  Now, I'll Have Another chestnut TC winner please!

05 Jun 2012 7:38 AM
Melissa P

Another gem, Steve! What a different world it was in 1973. Reading this blog post took me right back to those days with that amazing red horse. To be able to say that I saw Secretariat's triple and then to look at the photos with me and that amazing boy... He was special - a gift - and he knew it. Anyone who was ever lucky enough to be around him knew they were in the presence of something that only comes along once in a lifetime, if that. This blog brought all of those feelings right back.

05 Jun 2012 7:46 AM
Horsecrzy

Thanks Steve!  I remember Secretariat very well and his TC races and it is always nice to here something that wasn't known about him before and from a personal point of someone who actually worked with him.  I have been the proud owner of a great grandson of his for 2.5 years and I think he has inherited Secretariat's sense of humor. Another descendant of my horse was mentioned in this article too...Cougar II so it was nice to see his name mentioned.  These articles about the behind the scenes people who really knew the horses are great.  Thanks.

05 Jun 2012 8:15 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, Secretariat had to be the s Horse of the Century. He routinely came close to setting track records in his workouts. I once timed him going a two minute lick standing still.

05 Jun 2012 9:06 AM
Sue MacGray

What a great story Steve, thanks again (as always!). I remember watching the Belmont, I was 16. I remember getting tears in my eyes and calling to my family to hurry up!! hurry, come in here!! Look what he's doing!! I was beside myself and knew I was witnessing not just history but something special, something beyond mortal, reasonable and any expectations. I still love to dial that up on youtube occasionally to relive that day. It is true what someone above said about being in the presence of greatness and how it's different. I was privileged to see Z on the backside at the 2010 BC - that day was another incredible event and I was lucky (this time) to actually be there (even if the ending wasn't what I had wanted). Thank you so much, and as others have said, I hope to see history this Saturday as well. Sue

05 Jun 2012 10:18 AM
Slew

Steve, you are a magician, conjuring up tales of the backside that everyone else missed, and presenting them to us, an enthralled audience who can only marvel at your expertise.  You so willingly share with us an insight that defines individuals who were an integral part of our champions' lives with a poetry that is a love song not only for the horse, but for people we may otherwise have never known.  And you present us with the illusion that we are walking the backside with you, intimately familiar with the people and sounds and aromas and flavors of horse racing.

I want to thank you, and I'm certain Big Red would too.  You're the greatest!...a master of your art, and a blessing to your readers.

05 Jun 2012 11:12 AM
Heidi Carpenter

Wonderful piece, I love reading about fresh perspectives from that time. I too would love to see that photo of Secretariat, and also hope you can come out for the Million. Signed, another Arlington Park regular!

05 Jun 2012 11:35 AM
Giddyup

I was looking through the excellent slideshow of past Triple Crown winners and photo 28 highlighting Big Red's Belmont romp was particularly interesting. There is a solitary figure standing on the infield turf course in that shot....anyone know if it might have been Steve Haskin?

05 Jun 2012 11:56 AM
deb

Awesome story!  more please?!

05 Jun 2012 12:47 PM
TerriV

What is Belmont without remembering Secretariat!!  This article has reduced me to tears just to think about the greatness of that horse.  There will never be another like him but there doesn't have to be.  I'll Have Another will give us a different story.  Thanks, Steve, for another beautiful memory.

05 Jun 2012 12:48 PM
arlingtonfan

Steve, your pieces are such a pleasure to read! I was lucky enough to see Secretariat run at Arlington in the summer of '73. I was ten years old. What I treasure most about I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid is the way it's connecting racing fans with their most cherished memories and with each other. The best of luck to him on Saturday!

05 Jun 2012 1:12 PM
Bill Two

A little off thread, but I found a link to some fascinating old Belmont newsreels: www.thatsamorestable.net/.../monday-movie-belmont-newsreels

Well worth checking out.

05 Jun 2012 3:38 PM
steve from st louis

Speaking about the Million, the night before Perrault's winning effort, I was standing with Jay Hovdey at an Arlington dinner when I asked Charlie Whittingham  what he was expecting the next afternoon. "A track record", he said. When I worked the backside of the Chicago tracks, I rarely wagered because if I got caught up with all the tips I heard, I would never get my job done, but I withdrew money from the bank to throw it down on that beast 30 years ago this August. Thank you Charlie.

05 Jun 2012 3:45 PM
Paula Higgins

Thank you Steve for this piece. Just wonderful and timely. Secretariat's Belmont counts as the best moment in sports of the 20th century along with the U.S. Olympic hockey team's performance against the Russians at the Olympics. Not sure which is first and which is second but it hardly matters. He was magnificent and probably the greatest horse of the 20th century and so far the 21st century as well. I do have a soft spot for Man O' War too, so again, not sure which is 1 or 2 but it hardly matters. When Queen Elizabeth visited Kentucky on a private trip, the one horse she wanted to see was Secretariat. Her Majesty knows her horses so that says something.

05 Jun 2012 4:01 PM
bohemiastable

Steve--like always its fun to read your stories---NOW only if they used you as a writer or consultant of the "Secretariat Movie" of a couple of years ago. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes does a horse racing theme. Thank God there has been movies like Seabiscuit as well.

05 Jun 2012 4:22 PM
Blue Rum

Steve - I don't know how you do it but you did it again!  Wonderful story.  Love the picture of Riva Ridge also!  Somehow it all fits together, you have a gift.

05 Jun 2012 4:26 PM
Thelwell Pony

THANK YOU! What a great article. Just when I think that everything that can be said about Big Red has already been said, you find someone else interesting to tell us about him! You always help us feel like we were right there with you, meeting the subjects of your writing.

P.S. ~ Thank you for putting the picture of Riva, Steve, and the kitty in the article! You knew if you wrote about it, we'd want to see it. What a fine, fine horse in his own right.

05 Jun 2012 8:51 PM
Steel Dragon

One race prior to Secretariat's Belmont was a $20,000 allowance race.

The winner by 8 lengths was a little known gelding named Forego...

05 Jun 2012 8:52 PM
GPS

Steve, love the article but if he was 21 in 1973 he would have been born in 1952. To be 64 Saturday he would have been born in 1948. ??? Just poking fun.

05 Jun 2012 10:26 PM
El Kabong

Steve,

Thanks for sharing this incredible slice of life that recalls the honesty of Mr. Jordan's fortunate experience. I rather like the ending, because it is a reminder, and a strong one, to enjoy life while you can. Nothing bad about peaks and valleys, they make us better humans.

On another note, that interview with Dale was hysterical, and you both handled it with genuine good humor. Not bad considering what's on the line.

05 Jun 2012 11:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I watched the replay again of Secretariat's Belmont again. Almost immediately I started smiling and felt really good, and I thought, "Wow, I think this is going to be the first time I've watched it that I'm not going to get teary eyed." But I did get teary eyed again. It seems impossible not to. His stride was so beautiful and perfect for the entire race. Secretariat is the greatest. The Derby is the greatest race on earth except for The Belmont when someone is going for the Triple Crown. Then a horse that merely wins the Derby seems to pale in comparison to one going for the Triple Crown. I'm rooting all the way for I'll Have Another and eating my cookies to get in shape for the celebration. We still love you Smarty and will never forget how great you were too despite your narrow loss in The Belmont. What a magnificent ride that was for us and the "four-legged Rocky"(Steve Haskin). His miss of the Triple Crown proves that the racing gods don't care one bit about a great comeback story. The connections thought Smarty might die when he smashed his head on the starting gate early in his career. The Triple Crown is a tribute to the ones that got it and the near misses too. I hope this one isn't one of the near misses. Go baby go, like a machine, like Secretariat, or even close will do. Just win it. I'll Have Another Triple Crown. Like Secretariat's it would be the first one in a long time, a very long time. Even Secretariat's Belmont, in record time seemed to take a very long time and I thought of Mario when I was watching it. I hope he really knows just how long it is, but one thing I have no doubt about is IHA's condtioning and stamina. He can do it.

06 Jun 2012 9:04 AM
Ted from LA

Great article (as usual).  I can't wait for Saturday.  I'll be at Belmont Park with bells on... and a tutu.

06 Jun 2012 10:58 AM
Old Old Cat

If they gave out Pulitzers for horserace writing, you would win hands down.  If they ever give an award like that, (besides Eclipse), they should call it the "Haskin".  Your photo of Riva Ridge and the cat is great, but I see you worked in black and white back then, (ha ha, kidding, I know).  Seeing the movie "Secretariat" brings tears to my eyes, and your writing does also.  You always seem to find another unique story about real people and real horses to get to our heartstrings.  Thank you.

06 Jun 2012 1:28 PM
Linda in Texas

Ted from LA, please look for Alex'sBigFan, she will be there in her Cobalt Blue Dress with a beaded halter. She needs a hug from all of us and you are just the one to do it. She said Dr. Hansen would love her dress! So maybe he will like your tutu too!:)

Hope all who are lucky enough to be going have a fantastic

time. Come back and tell us all about it.

Thank you Steve. Hope this is a great race for you. So glad you are

right there with all the excitement and share it with us.

Linda

06 Jun 2012 5:28 PM
swaps

Steve, u mentioned on one of your posts that Arts and Letters won two of the TC races. Uh, I thot it was Majestic Prince. Since nobody has yet to correct u, I am fearful I have Alzheimer;s.

Will the racing gods favor IHA? The trainer thingie has me worried. Too much pub. about his violations. True or not, it will read, trainer who doped horses wins the TC.

Too many great horses have lost the TC. In my lifetime Native Dancer, Nashua and Bid. Was Kauai King great? No. Real Quiet? A good horse, but not great. U all can name the rest and make your decisions for the two out of threers. Gee, we coulda even had Forward Pass, TC by DQ.

it;s hard to win, and the three I;ve seen were GREAT horses.If IHA wins, I hope he races next yr and proves he is worthy. or wins by 31 lengths and goes in 24 and then is retired in the fall. Whatever. I just want a TC winner to be a great horse

06 Jun 2012 6:50 PM
Wrensflight

Your words just come to life on the page, Steve. It seems as though you can magically transport your readers so that they, too, can live the moment.

Having been a racing fan almost since I was old enough to know what a horse was, I am very grateful to have seen Secretariat run. I am privileged to have one of his great granddaughters in my family. It may well be that we will never see another athlete like him, but perhaps there just isn't room for too many legends.

That being said, best of luck to I'll Have Another on Saturday. Cookies all around.

07 Jun 2012 12:46 AM
Soldier Course

Did anyone notice this? Last Saturday in England, Camelot won the Epsom Derby, the second race in the UK's Triple Crown. His silks are purple and white stripes, like IHA's. Omen?

I'll Have Another ... Camelot.

Let's hope. It's time ...

07 Jun 2012 4:01 PM
RiderWriter

I'm with Dawn - if it's about Red, it's gotta be good! You did us fans a huge favor finding someone with a different story to tell about our boy. I thought I was familiar with ALL his human connections, but not the case - I've not heard of this gentleman before. How wonderful to get his perspective! Yep, unfortunately the poor fellow really had nowhere to go but down after starting his racing career in THAT company. :-) PLEASE do post the photo of Mr. Jordan with Red, we're all dying to see it now (though that one of him and Riva is terrific).

08 Jun 2012 10:46 PM

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