June 8, 2023
Long ago Santa Anita Derby Lives in Big Red's Shadow

At this level, there’s motive to be somewhat upset on the 3-year-olds of 2023 as they battle for consideration and house for the 149th Kentucky Derby (G1) on Might sixth. it is the toughest, however each time they give the impression of being round, somebody someplace turns the clock again 50 years and is enthusiastic concerning the Secretariat and what he did, ate and thought on that individual day half a century in the past.

For instance, on April 7, 1973, Secretariat was given a really measured, one-mile exercise below a decent grip timed 1:33 2/5 by Ron Turcotte. Wait, no, that was the Gotham Stakes (G2), it was a grade 2 occasion, a few flip Aqueduct Racetrack. It simply seemed like a exercise. The clock charge was equal to the report set by the mare Plucky Pan 5 years earlier. Each Secretariat and Plucky Pan have been made by Daring Ruler.

It was the thirty sixth run of the Santa Anita Derby (G1), introduced to a crowd of 49,564 on Saturday, March 31, 1973, that attracted the rising Secretariat fan membership practically 50 years in the past. How unusual, the previous days. No Sunday race. Exotics began and ended with the Day by day Double. Males shaved. The pretense colt Sham was beginning to sound threatening—a win within the restricted Santa Catalina Stakes was a nod—however the actual star of the West Coast was Linda’s Chief, the Chieftain’s fiery son within the palms of a New York expat. Bobby Frankel.

No love was misplaced between Frankel and the Sham household, whose coach Frank “Pancho” Martin and proprietor Sigmund Sommer. They’ve all taken their large metropolis grunts to the peaceable suburbs of Los Angeles, turning the Santa Anita Derby right into a feast of grudges way more worthwhile than their $100,000 pockets.

Of their earlier encounters, Linda’s Chief had led Sham and his firm in a jolly chase to win the San Felipe Handicap at one mile sixteen. This gave Frankel foal nepotism within the Santa Anita Derby. Martin promised that Linda’s Chief wouldn’t be unequalled in management, and to that finish, he entered Sommer’s Knightly Daybreak, a good-enough son of Sir Gaylord who would have been 30-1 north if Sham had not been matched.


Photograph: BloodHorse Library

Sham at Churchill Downs in 1973

In an interview concerning the movie a number of years later, Frankel confirmed that he was proper about smelling mice.

“I used to be somewhat skeptical, however then you do not actually assume that is going to occur,” Frankel stated. “They named the horse Knight Daybreak, named Jorge Tejeira. It simply so occurred that he pulled that horse proper outdoors of time. Then I obtained much more suspicious.”

Well-known for his work at Kelso, Milo Valenzuela was a closely used 38 who pulled some critical weights and struggled for mounts. Even when Valenzuela’s position was to torment Linda’s Chief, throwing a bone by Pancho Martin was well worth the effort.

“All of it broke down fairly effectively at first,” Frankel stated. “Really, Knightly Daybreak broke out a bit if I do not bear in mind. Then she angles it and cuts off Linda’s Chief. Linda’s Chief was taking the final row going into the primary flip as an alternative of laying the primary or second row.”

It is truly fourth, however Frankel obtained all the things else proper. After shouldering the sideburn, Valenzuela went to the whip and fried the primary half-mile across the clubhouse flip at :46, then was out of sight on the far flip because the Historical Head, Sham, and Linda’s Chief superior.

(Knightly Daybreak, who was defeated by an official 40-foot Churchill Downs He participated within the Jersey Derby at Backyard State Park in late Might to win a race on the Derby backside card.)

On the finish of the Santa Anita Derby, Sham was 2 1/2 lengths away from the cussed Linda’s Chief in 1:47 for 9 furlongs, equaling Fortunate Debonair’s betting report. Whereas Frankel was boiling, Braulio Baeza descended from Linda’s Chief and fouled the doorway, a superbly acceptable protest that had no probability. Sommer dunked in a number of juicy nicknames and Sham obtained the privilege of competing towards Secretariat.

That occurred two weeks later within the Wooden Memorial Stakes (G1), a race that briefly shook the foundations of the game as Angle Mild entered Secretariat to offer sincere tempo and went on to beat each the lauded stablemate and Sham. Then got here the Triple Crown. I will not spoil it simply in case.

This 12 months, the Wooden Memorial and Santa Anita Derby will probably be run on the identical day, this Saturday, with the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). Keeneland Added for seasoning. Todd Pletcher and Brad Cox look predictably powerful in New York and Kentucky, whereas Tim Yakteen takes the lead in Santa Anita. Sensible Motion winner of the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and nationwide treasure Among the many 3-year-olds, Yakteen’s path was adopted by Churchill Downs Inc. swiped from Bob Baffert, who remains to be banned by

Of the seven different Santa Anita runners, only some have been sufficiently old to get a driver’s license in 1973, to not point out being in the course of a world dominated by Secretariat, Sham, and Linda’s Chief.

Geaux Rocket Ride - Maiden Win, Santa Anita, January 29, 2023
Photograph: Benoit Photograph

Geaux Rocket Journey after its first victory at Santa Anita Park

Certainly one of them is Richard Mandella, who despatched the San Felipe runner-up. Geaux Rocket Drive . Mandella was 22 years outdated when he saddled Elmendorf’s Massive Spruce at a mile-and-a-half on a rain-soaked Santa Anita turf subject within the San Luis Rey Stakes (G1T) in March 1973. Mandella had been given the keys to the Massive Spruce a number of weeks earlier by his boss, Lefty Nickerson, who had cleared a lot of the barn for New York. Within the highlight, Mandella loved watching Massive Spruce win by 10 lengths and the turf titan Cougar II in third place by practically 14 lengths.

“Then he got here again and practically gained San Juan,” stated Mandella, paying homage to the ’73 San Juan Capistrano Invited Handicap (G1) when Massive Spruce fell shyly to catch the Queen’s Hustler. “I bear in mind telling Lefty he’d win if he made another leap. Lefty stated, ‘Dick, they’ve gone a mile and three quarters. What number of jumps do you want?’

On the finish of the Santa Anita rendezvous, Mandella returned the steadiness of the Nickerson barn to New York.

“, I used to be so excited to be working within the barn Lefty had, so on my solution to New York, a child from Beaumont, California…” Mandella stated. “I used to be feeding on the Aqueduct when Secretariat gained the Derby. There was no tv or phone within the barn. I heard it the following day. It was thrilling, after all. However not as thrilling as my new job.”

Secretariat defeated Sham at Churchill Downs in the 1973 Kentucky Derby.
Photograph: BloodHorse Library

Secretariat defeated Sham at Churchill Downs within the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

In early 1973, whereas Mandella was making bones with Massive Spruce, John Shirreffs was nearing the top of his time period of service at Loma Rica Ranch on the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain vary northeast of Sacramento. Shirreffs will run skinny On the power of the colt’s regular end, he completed third in San Felipe within the Santa Anita Derby. Life was good at Loma Rica for the Vietnam vet, dealing with younger Thoroughbred Brits going to the monitor. Secretariat & Co.’s antics is also going down on a distant planet.

“It was fairly sheltered in there,” Shirreffs stated. “We went to the Horsemen Fairgrounds, skied and rode on the paths. That was it. On Sundays we might eat scorching buttered popcorn and watch the Raiders.”

Nonetheless, maintaining with Secretariat information even from far-flung corners of the Thoroughbred British world proved not possible.

“I used to be undoubtedly following him,” Shirreffs stated. “I do not bear in mind if it was in Sports activities Illustrated or every other journal, however I examine him at any time when I obtained the prospect. My favourite factor got here from Lucien Laurin a number of days in the past when requested if he had accomplished his horse 46-and-change. A race. ‘Good for the Secretariat. “I like to provide an opinion,” he stated.

Was Skinner excited as he ready for the Santa Anita Derby?

“No, not this week,” the coach replied. “It is going simply superb with out one.”

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