March 17, 1973 ~ $25,000 Bay Shore Stakes ~ 7 furlongs ~ Aqueduct Race Course
After his championship two-year-old season that saw Secretariat named all-age Horse of the Year in North America, the Big Red son of Bold Ruler was given the winter off to fill out for his three-year-old campaign. First target on the agenda of trainer Lucien Laurin and owner Penny Chenery would be the Kentucky Derby, and then the Triple Crown.
Chenery and Laurin had won the 1972 Kentucky Derby with Riva Ridge, and were ready to roll again with a colt many believed could be a horse for the ages.
First step on the Road to Glory was the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct that would hopefully launch the big horse on a path to Kentucky and Churchill Downs on the First Saturday in May.
The Bay Shore was a short distance tune-up, but it wasn’t that easy. The Daily Racing Form chart caller noted that Secretariat “bumped with Torsion soon after leaving the chute, commenced to rally nearing the end of the backstretch, was steadied along behind the leaders while looking for room rounding the turn, drove between horses to make his run stretch and drew away while being ridden out.”
Secretariat ended up winning by a decisive four-plus lengths, and jockey Ron Turcotte allowed the horse to continue running after the wire a planned addition to the seven-eighths-mile race that gave Secretariat a full mile of exercise. His official seven-furlong clocking was 1:23 1/5, with clockers catching his mile in 1:37 4/5.
As Turcotte returned to the winner’s circle with Secretariat, however, the jock found the infield tote board showing that an “objection” had been lodged against Secretariat by the rider of Impecunious, who finished third.
The claim was that Secretariat had interfered with Impecunious during the stretch run. The stewards talked to both riders and reviewed films, then disallowed the objection. (A stewards’ inquiry in the Champagne Stakes the previous fall had resulted in Secretariat’s disqualification.)
That drama concluded, the first step for Secretariat along the road to the Kentucky Derby was now in the books.