There are moments in the vast history of sports when the impact of the accomplishment transcends the competitive moment. The 1973 Belmont Stakes was one of those profound and seminal moments.
This amazing artifact is the epitome of racing royalty memorabilia and a true manifestation of the point in time when the Sport of Kings intersected with its greatest Triple Crown king. The June 9, 1973 Belmont Stakes heralded in the coronation of Secretariat as the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and has since been designated as one of the top ten sporting achievements of the 20th century (Sports Illustrated, 2004). The race remains one of the most electrifying and dominating performances in all of racing history.
With the eyes of the world watching, Secretariat carried not only the hopes and dreams of the Meadow Stable but also a country desperately waiting for a hero to emerge during the troubled time of Watergate and Vietnam.
The race itself will long be remembered for Secretariat's seemingly suicidal early dual with Sham, before overtaking his vanquished rival then "moving like a tremendous machine," widening his margin over the rest of the field, which grew to the epic proportions. The record shows Secretariat finishing a mind-boggling 31 lengths in front, and stopping the clock in the world record time of 2:24 for the 1 1/2 mile distance. But the facts and figures can never adequately convey the majesty and glory of this moment in time - detached and everlasting. Never before or since has there been a performance that even remotely approaches this surreal performance in the history of the race, appropriately labeled as the "Test of the Champion."
Upon Secretariat's victory, the New York Racing Association presented his Meadow Stable connections with the custom made royal blue wool blanket with white trimming and hand-stitched vinyl letters. The blanket was proudly worn by Secretariat during the balance of his championship season until being retired into the personal collection of Secretariat's luminary owner Penny Chenery.
A literal museum piece, the blanket has been on display for the last several decades as part of the Secretariat Display at the Kentucky Horse Park located in the heart of Bluegrass Country. This spectacular piece of racing history is photo-matched to the Ray Woolfe photo from the fall of 1973 featuring Secretariat proudly donning the blanket while jockey Ron Turcotte and groom Eddie Sweat wistfully watch the champ as he makes ready for his departure into retirement at Claiborne Farm.
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