Tag Archives: Secretariat

Sports: Man o’ War

Blood-Horse magazine's panel of horse-racing experts selected the 100 greatest thoroughbreds of the 20th century. Secretariat was number 2. Man o' War was chosen number 1. Uploaded by pollsb.com.

Think of him as “Secretariat: The Prequel.” In 1920, the Triple Crown of horse racing had not yet been recognized as the standard of excellence it’s since become. And Man o’ War’s owner felt the Kentucky Derby came too early in the year for a three-year-old to race a mile and a quarter. But Man o’ War did win the Preakness (in a Pimlico track record time) and the Belmont (by 20 lengths).

Uploaded by pubpages.unh.edu.

During his racing career, Man o’ War won 20 of 21 races. The one he lost? He got off to a horrific start (starting gates didn’t come until later) and got trapped in the middle of the pack. Even so, he came on strong down the stretch, finishing just a nose behind. The winning horse’s name? Upset.

When Sports Illustrated compiled its list of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century, Man o’ War came in at number 84. Yeah, I know. It’s a horse. But get this. A panel of horse-racing experts at Blood-Horse magazine compiled its list of the top 100 thoroughbred racehorses of the 20th century. They named Man o’ War number one. Secretariat (Great American Things, April 24, 2010) came in second.

Sports: The Kentucky Derby

The winner of the Kentucky Derby earns about $2 million, or about $16,000 per second. Maybe I should start eating more oats. Photo: Here They Come (c) Dave Black.

It’s the first leg in horse racing’s Triple Crown. It’s the Run for the Roses. It’s the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. If I missed any of the clich├ęs, I hope the fine people of Kentucky will forgive me. No matter what you call it, America wakes up to the sport of horse racing for the Kentucky Derby each year, then puts it way back in importance unless a horse actually contends for the Triple Crown.

The race takes place at beautiful and historic Churchill Downs in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. This race for three-year-old horses made its debut in 1875 in front of about 10,000 spectators. Attendance these days hovers around the 155,000 mark.

Uploaded by kentuckyderby.com.

Which isn’t to say that anywhere near that many actually watch the race; thousands of people purchase general admission tickets to party in the infield, and for them the race is both literally and figuratively a blur. The contrast is quite stark between the sloshed revelers in the infield and the ladies in the expensive seats who could only wear those hats if they were themselves feeling no pain.

The winning horse now earns $2 million, which breaks down to about $16,000 a second. Nice work if you can get it. The track record is still held by the magnificent Secretariat (Great American Things, September 14, 2009), who owned the Triple Crown way back in 1973.

The Derby has been a staple of television since its first broadcast in 1952. It’s now sponsored by Yum! Brands, best known for its fast-food franchises. So this year, get a bucket of KFC, a few burritos from Taco Bell, a fish and fries from Long John Silver’s, and a meat lover’s from Pizza Hut (okay, this needs to be a party), mix up some mint juleps, and listen as the University of Louisville band plays “My Old Kentucky Home.”

And they’re off!…