Secretariat (pictured with Lucien Laurin): set record time in 1973 Preakness
Preakness record for Secretariat - it's official
USA: While Frankel is in the process of writing his own legend, that of one of his predecessors in the equine pantheon is still being burnished nearly 40 years after he raced his last.
On Tuesday, the curtain finally came down on a longstanding US racing controversy when the great Secretariat was officially recognised as having set a race-record time when he won the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of his Triple Crown sweep in 1973.
Secretariat is therefore now recognised as the record holder from all three races after the Maryland Racing Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to change the official time of the 1973 Preakness to 1m53.0s instead of the 1m54.40s that stood in the record books.
At the time, the official electronic teletimer clocked the Preakness in 1m55.0s, which was a full second slower than Canonero II's record.
However, that original time was revised after a review of the film showed the teletimer had malfunctioned, while two hand-timers for the Daily Racing Form claimed the race should have been clocked at 1m53.40s - three-fifths faster than Canonero II.
Given the failings of the electronic time, Pimlico adjusted its own mark to 1m54.40s on the recommendation of the track's own hand-timer, but Secretariat's connections have always claimed this was still way too slow to be accurate.
Although the DRF has always referred to its own significantly faster mark, the paper will now also adopt the new time of 1m53.0s established after two hours of testimony at a meeting of the Maryland Commission at Laurel Park on Tuesday.
"I didn't know if it was appropriate to cheer but I couldn't help myself," said Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery said, speaking to the Blood-Horse. "This is a big day."
If such a discussion over fractions of a second sounds like splitting hairs, the controversy has dogged the Preakness ever since Secretariat won the race to the extent that representatives of owner Penny Chenery said they had hired three separate companies to perform "forensic analyses" of the video.
According to spokesman Leonard Lusky, they had established accuracy to within 0.03 of a second.
"We had five analysts look at the video, and all five said that it was 1.53 flat," sais Lusky. "We definitely felt fortunate that everyone was saying the same thing.
"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.
"This was a labour of love and it was so important because it was Secretariat and the Preakness, one of the landmark events in horse racing."
The Pimlico track record for the 1m1½f distance is still held by Farma Way, who stopped the clock at 1m52.40s in the 1991 Pimlico Special.