Secretariat at the Belmont is one of equine photographer Tony Leonard’s most well-known photos. It was his wife Adelle’s idea to airbrush the groom out of the photo. Mr. Leonard passed away on July 14, 2012. Big Red died in 1989.
But was he clipped coming out of the gate? Some sources say he clipped his own front right heel - others say the above photo appears to show Matterhorn clipping him…in the front right heel. This puts a whole different spin on the race – just the fact that he finished, let alone finished in a game run for fourth, is a courageous act.
These beautiful creatures have so much heart. Prayers and thoughts to California Chrome - hope he will be all right!
June 13, 1937: War Admiral, a sound sleeper when the stakes were high, on the morning of his Triple Crown-clinching win at the Belmont Stakes. “War Admiral, winner of all his starts this year, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is fit and ready and is sure to rule an odds-on favorite,” reported The Times. Despite an injury on his back right heel, War Admiral beat his father’s track record at Belmont by a fifth of a second. Photo: The New York Times
“That’s the thing about being a jockey — or anybody who’s in a dangerous sport — is that as long as you have a real passion for that thing that you’re doing, the fact that it’s dangerous sits in the back of your mind and not the front of your mind. If it starts to ride into the front of your mind, then it’s time to quit.”
Here is a letter from Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, Tonalist:
Hello horse fans,
Boy, this is awkward. I realize most of you probably hate my guts—I get that—but I figured that with few days to cool off, maybe you hate me just a little bit less? Hey, I get up everyday, have my shoes put on and go to work just like everyone else. I’m just a colt who likes to eat, sleep, run and poop like any other hot-blooded American.
So everyone wants to know if I feel bad about spoiling California Chrome's Triple Crown, and if it’s fair that I even had a chance to be in the race since I did not run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, and if it’s true that I am a Communist. To which I say, which one was California Chrome again? I’m terrible with names and don't get to watch TV, so please forgive me if I come off as dense, but I honestly didn’t have time for introductions that day.I’m sure he’s a good dude, and if it makes you feel better then yes, SORRY FOR WINNING.
As for fairness, well, you’re asking the wrong critter. I just show up, go a little crazy and wait for that gate to open so I can run, run, run. I try to stay out of the politics, but when I had to run in the Peter Pan Stakes last month, did I complain because I was the only horse in the race coming back from a three month layoff while battling a lung infection? Did I complain when it rained and made the track all muddy and unfamiliar? You best yourhorse’s ass I did, butwhatareyagonnado?
You know what’s really unfair? The fact I had to miss the Derby and the Preakness, that’s what. Ever since I was a yearling all I’ve wanted to do was win the Kentucky Derby. I hear you get carrots delivered to you anytime you want for the rest of your life…is that true? Can someone please confirm this for me?
Look, whomever this Chrome fellow is—wait, was he the big baywith the white shadow roll and horrendous gas? No?—I’m sure he’s over it and munching on his unlimited, hand delievered carrots that he will enjoy for the rest of his life. So no, I do not feel bad, and neither should you.
If all goes well then I’m sure we will meet on the track again soon and you people will be all like, “Yeahhh go California Chrome you rock” and “Boooo Tonalist I hate you and your fresh legs and that stupid star on your face that looks like South America” and whatever will be will be.
Maybe we’ll race each other in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this Fall and if he beats me I can say, “but poor me I had to twavel awl the way fwom the East Coast and he just had to dwive down the stweet…it’s not fair!” WOULD THAT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER? WOULD YOU THEN BE ENTERTAINED? Forgive me, I’m just a little tired of answering the same question. Us Tapits can be a touch temperamental at times.
Anyway, it’s 4:00 and I don’t see anyone preparing my bucket so I’m going to sign off and work up a tantrum—FOOD FOR THE BELMONT CHAMP, MAYBE?! ANYONE?!—so thank you for letting me get this off my chest and clear the air. Sorry again if I ruined your Triple Crown party. Time heals.
Well, I always knew I’d play a jockey some day. Along with “bell hop,” “pizza delivery boy” and “nervous intern” it’s been on my bucket list of dream roles :D Check out my commercial for Breathe Right Nasal Strips. It’s actually pretty hilarious and topical seeing as California Chrome will be wearing twin strips at the Belmont Stakes this weekend. Also those things really freaking work! Who knew?
June 5, 2013. A horse gallops around the fourth turn of the 1 ½ mile track during a morning workout at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The Belmont Stakes horse race is Saturday.
Photo by Mark Lennihan.
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