Secretariat

What Truly Defines Greatness

With Flightline still a major source of conversation and speculation, I thought it was a good time to talk about some other horses who did extraordinary things, but on a much wider scale. Not to take away from Flightline’s amazing feats, but just imagine if the horses listed below did today what they did back then. ~ Steve Haskin

What Truly Defines Greatness

By Steve Haskin

 

All the talk these days has obviously been about Flightline and his remarkable, but brief, career and where he fits in the history books when it comes to great horses. Can he really be considered one of the greats or a potentially great horse who never got a chance to exhibit the qualities we saw from many of the legends of the past, mainly versatility and the ability to win under all conditions over a period of time?

There is no doubt that Flightline did things that horses just don’t do, or at least have never done and likely will never do. We know we have never seen anything like him for what he accomplished in only six career starts. But how will his extraordinary feats stand the test of time?

For now I put him in a classification all his own. After all, how can you compare him to horses who proved their greatness and their versatility over a much longer period of time? If you notice, these first few paragraphs contain a number of questions, to which there probably are no answers. But it did get me thinking about the great horses going back to the fifties who did extraordinary things and raised themselves to a different level. Their feats stamped their greatness by showing something other than just huge winning margins and fast times.

Here then are some of these remarkable horses who come to mind.

FOREGO – Like many of the great geldings, Forego raced for a number of years and lost his share of races. But the longer you race and the more amazing feats you perform the more those defeats are forgotten. Forego in his own way may have been the most extraordinary horse I ever saw, especially considering his constant physical ailments over the course of his career. Yes, his heart-pounding Marlboro Cup victory under a staggering 137 pounds will forever be his signature performance, but I remember the first time I saw him race in the 1974 Carter Handicap and realized this was no ordinary horse.

Forego was just developing his reputation as a top-class horse by winning the 1 1/4-mile Widener and Gulfstream Handicaps. He then came up to New York and was entered in the seven-furlong Carter. It was clear this was merely a prep for the prestigious Met Mile and that there was no way he was expected to carry topweight of 129 pounds, drop back to a sprint, and defeat arguably the fastest horse in the country, Mr. Prospector, who had already set a track record of 1:07 4/5 at Gulfstream in 1973, a track record of 1:08 3/5 at Garden State Park in ’74, and had won two other races in ’74 in 1:08 1/5 at Gulfstream and 1:09 flat at Aqueduct. And he won each time by big margins.

Also in the field was Tartan Stable’s Lonetree, who had defeated Mr. Prospector that year in the seven-furlong Poinciana Handicap at Hialeah in a blazing 1:21 flat, breaking the track record by almost three-fifths of a second. Add to those two speedballs, Timeless Moment, who had equaled the six-furlong track record of 1:08 3/5 at Aqueduct the year before, just missed the 6 1/2-furlong track record at Belmont by two-fifths of a second, and had won a pair of seven-furlong allowance races at Aqueduct that spring in 1:22 1/5 and 1:22 2/5. Still another in the field was William Haggin Perry’s Forage, who was coming off a second-place finish (disqualified to third) in the seven-furlong San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in 1:21 1/5. He would go on to break the track record for a mile at Aqueduct two months later, winning an allowance race in 1:33 1/5 before capturing the Du Pont and Atlantic City Handicaps.

I realized we were looking at something very special when Forego, a 17-hands giant who looked nothing like a sprinter, made a big run around the turn and just cruised by Mr. Prospector with a quarter of a mile still to run, as jockey Heliodoro Gustines sat motionless in the saddle. Under no urging at all he drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:22 1/5.

This to me was the beginning of the Forego dynasty, when we first realized what a truly remarkable horse he was. He would later prove that by becoming the only horse to win the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and be voted Champion Sprinter that same year. In the span of six weeks in 1974, Forego won the 1 1/2-mile Woodward Stakes, the seven-furlong Vosburgh Handicap, and the two-mile Gold Cup. That is a feat we will never see again.

SECRETARIAT – As spectacular as Secretariat was in the Triple Crown, setting new stakes records in all three races that still stand 50 years later, running each quarter faster than the previous one in the Kentucky Derby, and turning in arguably the greatest performance in the history of the sport in winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths while breaking the previous record by two and three-fifths seconds, it was not these feats alone that put him on this list.

Secretariat did something extremely rare by being named Horse of the Year as a 2-year-old, and he did it in a year that saw future Hall of Famers Riva Ridge, Cougar II, and Susan’s Girl and top-class champions like Key to the Mint. Although it is often difficult for a 3-year-old who goes through the rigors of the Triple Crown to maintain his form through the end of year, what Secretariat did after the Triple Crown was remarkable. After bouncing back from a serious illness in August, Big Red was rushed back to make the inaugural Marlboro Cup against the best horses in the country. Not only did he set a new world record, he would be rushed back again two weeks later in the slop to substitute for stablemate Riva Ridge with little or no training in the 1 1/2-mile Woodward Stakes, finishing second to the brilliant older horse Prove Out in the second-fastest mile and a half ever run at Belmont. He then came back nine days later making his grass debut in the 1 1/2-mile Man o’ War Stakes and broke the course record defeating proven grass horses Tentam and Big Spruce by five lengths. Imagine a horse today doing all that in the span of 23 days, and then traveling to Canada to romp in the 1 5/8-miles Canadian International to close out his career with two major victories on grass.

When people 50 years later think of Secretariat, they naturally think of his unprecedented Triple Crown sweep. But what has gotten lost are his amazing accomplishments later in the year that not only justify the greatness we saw in the spring, but how truly extraordinary he really was under all conditions, all surfaces, and all distances, and against the best dirt and grass horses in the country.

ROUND TABLE – I’m going back a bit, but this horse’s greatness and what he accomplished has gotten a bit lost over the years. He is the horse who not only revolutionized grass racing in America, he also became the first horse who was equally as great on both surfaces while traveling all over the country.

A complete horse who would go on to become one of the great sires of his time, he raced 66 times, equaling or breaking 16 track records – 11 on dirt and five on grass. He broke the 2:00 mark for 1 1/4 miles five times and twice broke 1:59, yet was fast enough to break his maiden going four furlongs and ran a mile in a record-equaling 1:33 2/5.

He was put on the grass for the first time after 24 dirt starts, winning his first three starts, including the American Derby and United Nations Handicap. After 14 straight starts on dirt, he returned to the grass, winning his first five starts, increasing his unbeaten streak to eight races. He would then win six of his eight remaining starts on grass. To demonstrate his brilliance over both surfaces, he won the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup on dirt in 1:58 3/5 and the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos Handicap on grass in 1:58 2/5. He also won carrying 130 pounds or more 17 times, including 136 pounds in the United Nations Handicap in his final start on grass.

And unlike Forego, Round Table was a small horse, yet was able to win 43 races over all types of racetracks and all distances and look like a giant.

JOHN HENRY – When you mention the name John Henry to most people they automatically think grass horse. And why not? This incorrigible rags to riches gelding began his career at tiny Jefferson Downs and Evangeline Downs in Louisiana and rose from the depths to become one of the most beloved horses of all time and was named Champion Grass Horse in 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1984 and voted Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984 at the age of 9. Cantankerous and obscurely bred, he sold as a yearling for $1,100 and went on to become the first horse to earn $3 million, the first to earn $4 million, the first to earn $5 million and the first to earn $6 million.

But John Henry was more than an all-time great grass horse. He was the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap twice (once carrying 130 pounds) and also captured The Jockey Club Gold Cup and San Marcos Handicap on dirt and placed in the Hollywood Gold Cup, Meadowlands Cup, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He also is the only horse to win Grade 1 stakes at age 9, and in fact won four of them. That is certainly something you will never see again.

But like Forego’s Marlboro Cup and Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes, John Henry’s best known victory came in his dramatic nose score in the inaugural Arlington Million, so his dirt triumphs often are forgotten.

DR. FAGER – While Dr. Fager raced only 22 times over a three-year-period, what he accomplished as a 4 year-old in 1968 will go down as the greatest and most versatile campaign in racing history. If you’re looking for the extraordinary let’s begin by saying that Dr. Fager became the only horse to win four divisional championships in a single year. So exceptional was he on all surfaces and at any distance, at least up to a mile and a quarter, he was named Horse of the Year, Champion Older Horse, Champion Grass Horse, and Champion Sprinter.

At seven furlongs he easily won the Roseben Handicap in his first start of the year, carrying 130 pounds and covering the distance in a sprightly 1:21 2/5. He closed out his career winning the Vosburgh Handicap eased up in a track-cord 1:20 1/5 over a recently winterized and far slower surface by six lengths carrying a staggering 139 pounds. Never again will we witness such a demonstration of speed, dominance, and weight carrying ability.

At one mile he set a new world record of 1:32 1/5 that still has not been broken, winning eased up by 10 lengths carrying 134 pounds.

At 1 1/16 miles he traveled to California and beat 13 opponents in the Californian Stakes, winning in hand from post 11 carrying 130 pounds.

At 1 1/8 miles he cantered to an eight-length victory in the Whitney Stakes carrying 132 pounds while being kept very wide by jockey Braulio Baeza, who pretty much just sat on him motionless the entire race.

At 1 3/16 miles he made his grass debut in the United Nations Handicap against a star-studded field of grass horses and despite slipping and sliding the whole race while lugging 134 pounds and losing the lead several times to a classy horse carrying 22 fewer pounds, he dug deeper than he ever had to before to score a gutsy neck victory.

At 1 1/4 miles he defeated his arch rival and future Hall of Famer Damascus in the Suburban Handicap, covering the 10 furlongs in 1:59 3/5 carrying 132 pounds and equaling Gun Bow’s track record. In his only defeat that year he finished second to Damascus after chasing his rival’s rabbit through suicidal fractions and still equaled his own record of 1:59 3/5 under 135 pounds, giving five pounds to Damascus, who set a new track record of 1:59 1/5, which still stands.

KELSO – We have another gelding on the list, and who is ever going to come even remotely close to Kelso’s feat of winning five consecutive Horse of the Year titles and five consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cups? Not only did he set a world record for two miles in one of those Gold Cups he also set a world record for 1 1/2 miles on the grass, nailing down his final Horse of the Year title with a 4 1/2-length victory over arch rival Gun Bow in the Washington D.C. International, defeating some of the world’s best grass horses.

What made his DC International victory so special was that he had previously finished second in the race three times. So as great was Kelso was on the dirt, let us not forget his four big performances on grass against the best of the world and his strong second-place finish in the Man o’ War Stakes.

ACK ACK – Although he is not in the same class as the aforementioned horses, having only one strong year, it was a year we had never seen before and certainly qualifies as extraordinary. After being sold and sent to Charlie Whittingham in California, Ack Ack, as a 5-yar-old, won seven straight stakes at seven furlongs, then 1 1/16 miles, 1 1/8 miles, 1 1/4 miles, 5 1/2 furlongs, 1 1/8 miles on grass, and finally 1 1/4 miles carrying 134 pounds.

Prior to that he concluded his 4-year-old campaign with consecutive victories at six furlongs, seven furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, and 6 1/2 furlongs on grass. To make that kind of leap from dirt sprints and grass sprints to victories in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup was pretty exceptional.

There obviously are a number of other great horses who did exceptional things, but I thought I would just list these to give you an idea what the truly great ones are capable of if given the opportunity.

Photo courtesy of Edwin Whitaker

Racing historian, author, and award-winning retired journalist for the Daily Racing Form and The Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame’s Media Roll of Honor in 2016. Known for his racing knowledge and insightful prose, he has been an exclusive contributor to Secretariat.com since 2020.


Newsletter

Signup for the Secretariat.com newsletter For new announcements, merchandise updates and other excitement here at Secretariat.com, please enter your email address in the popup window. Our mailing list is never sold or viewed by anyone other than Secretariat.com

Leave a Reply

147 Responses to “What Truly Defines Greatness”

  1. Neil Choate says:

    Thank you Steve. Your homework is extraordinary!

  2. Mike Sekulic says:

    As wonderful and spectacular as he is, FLIGHTLINE does not hold a candle to the great horses that Steve writes about in this article.

    • Jeff says:

      Wrong-He might not be able to hold the candle but he is the fastest horse in a generation who would just blew the candle out. He would line up with anyone from 6f to 12f and would be close to favoritism against any horse

  3. Matthew W says:

    Methinks the 2020 crop of three year Olds is going to be a notable one! Forte and Cave Rock are both very talented! Bob is loaded! One if his “Arabian” 2yos is running next Sat, in the Los Al Futurity….Taiba is left, from the 2019 crop, and two I have followed, Zozos and Hopper are working towards a comeback. Both are nice horses, Hopper has much talent! And he WANTS to beat ya!

  4. Mike Sekulic says:

    I have the past performances for the 1973 Woodward Stakes in front of me. The Marlboro Cup was on September 15th and the Woodward was on the 29th. SECRETARIAT worked out in :48-3/5 on the 21st and 1:38 on the 25th, while COUGAR II, worked :37-2/5 and 1:39, on the same dates. There was only a two week turnaround between these two races, so I do not believe that SECRETARIAT lost training or wasn’t prepared for the Woodward. Sometimes, horses simply lose, and that’s OK, even for the greatest horse of all time.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that PROVE OUT ran August 7th and 24th, September 1st, 10th, and 22nd, before coming into the Woodward on the 29th.

    • Mike Sekulic says:

      In the September 15th DRF article, by Herb Goldstein, about the Marlboro Cup, it is noted that KEY TO THE MINT and COUGAR II haven’t ran in a long time, because their prior starts were on July 21 and July 23rd, respectively. In those days horses raced quite frequently, so a 6 or 7 week period between races was considered a long time! Fast forward to today and it’s quite different, isn’t it?

    • Tony S. says:

      It’s certainly true that flesh and blood creatures can have better days and worse days, and I absolutely agree that Secretariat’s losses, in my mind, don’t negate his status as the greatest Thoroughbred of my lifetime, and probably some years before. But I do think that his Woodward loss is explainable at least in part by lack of sharpness due to insufficient work. As you say, horses ran and trained differently in those days. One of the appendices in Raymond Woolfe’s “Secretariat” is a log of all of Secretariat’s works during his racing career. Woolfe wrote that the log was compiled by Sports Illustrated writer William Nack with the assistance of Lucien Laurin and assistant trainer Harry Hoeffner. It’s clear from that log that before his best races at 3, Secretariat worked in times that would have been quick for race day afternoons.

      Before winning the Gotham at a mile in 1:33 and change on April 7, he worked a mile in 1:35 2/5 on March 28. Before the Derby on May 5, he worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 on April 27 and five in 58 3/5 on May 2. Six days before the Preakness, five in 57 2/5. Eight days before the Belmont, a mile in 1:34 4/5. June 21, five in 58 4/5, June 27, another five in 58 1/5 before the June 30 Arlington Invitational. Three days before the Marlboro Cup, he went five in 57 flat and galloped out another furlong in 1:08 4/5.

      The Woolfe/Nack log shows the two works you mention as the only works he had between the Marlboro and the Woodward, and it shows them as being on grass. They’re clearly not the kind that tended to prepare him for his best. (Six days after the Woodward and three days before the Man O’ War, he worked five in 56 4/5, out six in 1:09.) So, while reasonable minds can differ and Secretariat’s pre-Woodward works, viewed through a modern lens, sure look like he was well-prepared for that race, when put in the context of his other works and races, convince me that he hadn’t had the work he tended to need to do his best in that race.

  5. Matthew W says:

    Steve Gander passed….big nearly white horse that came with his late kick. ..NY bred fan favorite… brought that kick every time. .

  6. Davids says:

    Santa will be wearing his speedos on Christmas Eve when he arrives in Melbourne with a warm 76 F. Will he need his ‘long johns’ and red coat when he heads north?

    I do miss snow for Christmas though.

  7. Lynda King says:

    WOW, just WOW.
    Hollie Doyle on Spirited Express (by No Nay Never)

    • Davids says:

      Hollie Doyle won the Prix de Diane this year on Nashwa in 2022, the first female jockey to win an European Group 1 Classic.

  8. Catface99 says:

    All of these horses accomplished amazing things. I’m partial to Kelso, who was so great for so long, but everyone was incredible. Wish I’d been able to see even a few of these races in person.

    So with the announcement of the Vox Populi winner comes criticism from an Eclipse voter who is convinced that the “wrong”choice was made and posted so twice so far in response to an article at HRN about the winner. Thoughts?

    “[posted by] DerbyDoc

    Hate to say this but Rich Strike should have easily won this.

    The award is “annual award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing. ”

    99.9% of the public has never heard of Cody’s Wish.

    Much of the public has heard of Rich Strike and he brought many more new fans to this game or peeked the interest (in other words, recognition to the sport) of would be new fans more than any horse since American Pharoah.

    Tough words, but it’s fact.”

    And a later post, same author:
    “But that’s not what this award is supposed to be about.

    Cody’s Wish is certainly a great story but it didn’t bring recognition to the sport.

    Rich Strike’s story did, on the biggest mainstream stage this sport has.”

  9. Pebbles says:

    Flightline, Flightline, Flightline.

    Is he a great horse?

    It is hard to say. He certainly delivered two eye-popping performances.
    However, do two great performances make a horse great?

    I do not think so.

    He certainly had a unique campaign. Six starts. 2/3s of his races on the West Coast away from the best competition. Two years of racing. Three times each.

    Frankly, I see Flightline as the 5th best horse of the 21st century.

    American Pharoah is the best horse. Ending the Triple Crown drought, and running fast he showed sheer brilliance.

    Arrogate defeated two future Hall of Famers in Gun Runner and California Chrome, twice. He set two track records. He ran overseas. He ran very fast.

    Ghostzapper has better number than Flightline. Flightline is the speed figure horse. But he cannot compare to Ghostzapper.

    Flightline
    Malibu Stakes 118
    Metropolitan Handicap 112
    Pacific Classic 126
    Breeders Cup Classic 121

    Ghostzapper
    116 Vosburgh
    128 Iselin Stakes
    114 Woodward Stakes vs. Saint Liam
    124 Breeders Cup Classic against 5 multiple G1 winners while Flightline faced 2. And the best two horses Flightline faced were compromised by distance and injury.
    122 Metropolitan Handicap

    Flightline is a flash in the pan. 30 years from now more people will remember Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby win more than Flightline. It is because the connections did not want to campaign him.

    • Davids says:

      The highly respected Timeform ratings: Flightline 143, Arrogate 141, American Pharoah 138, Ghostzapper 137, and Justify 129 don’t quite agree with your assumptions. In 30 years time Timeform’s rating will still be there.

    • Matthew W says:

      Before the Classic Frankel was furious Lukas was running Azeri, he wanted zero pace pressure…at 10 furlongs I’ll take Flightline over Ghostzapper everytime!

  10. Lynda King says:

    Just announced.
    Codys Wish is the 2022 Vox Populi.
    Congratulations!
    I am so happy for Cody and the connections for Cody’s Wish.

    • Was totally happy to see Cody’s Wish win this award. I voted for Rich Strike before the Clark Handicap was run. But after the Clark was run I wanted my vote back (which I felt was a travesty and deception on the trainer’s part) as I lost all respect and credibility for the connections.
      Congratulations too CODY’S WISH a “TRUE” winner!!!

  11. Matthew W says:

    Regal Glory hand ridden whole way around there….”nw”….means no whip….sit…wait . .engage bit at top of stretch…cruise on past and that is greatness..

  12. Lynda King says:

    Congratulations Mind Control!

    • Davids says:

      What a way to go out, a real racehorse who tries every time. Mind Control was a favorite, will miss his tenacity and courage. Let’s hope his stud career is even better in New York.

      • Lynda King says:

        29 starts, 12 wins, 3 2nds and 6 places. 2.285 million in earnings.
        Excellent pedigree, granddire Bernardini, Storm Cat, Deputy Minister, Fappiano in dam line.
        So happy for him and the connections.
        Love it when these older horses go out on top

        • Davids says:

          Lynda, you might want to pencil in Tapit Shoes for the Classics next year. The Tapit half brother to Cyberknife won at the Fair Grounds by over 7 lengths. Trained by Brad Cox these are the type of 2 year old colts I like following for the Classics the following year. Not rushed along to win stakes as 2 year olds. A late May foal as well. “Softly, softly, catchee monkey.”

          • Ms Blacktype says:

            Davids, I don’t know if Lynda “penciled” Tapit Shoes in, but I sure did — added him to my list of promising 2YOs with an eye toward the Spring Classics on advice of your tip. Other than Cave Rock, Forte, and a few others there are no standouts yet in the crop of 2020. Looking forward to what Steve makes of it, and whether he’ll start his Derby list as early as he did last year.

            • Davids says:

              Good for You, Ms Blacktype. Yes, Tapit Shoes, has a ton of potential, winning easily while racing extremely greenly. He has to improve but the that seems somewhat inevitable. Another 2 year old Tapit colt I like is Signator trained by Shug McGaughey.

          • Lynda King says:

            Davids, thanks for heads up on Tapit Shoes.
            At the moment I am thinking this might be a great year for the fillies.
            Hoosier Philly is a lovely filly. She won the Rags to Riches in the slop by 7.5 lengths.
            She seems to float over the track with those long leg, barely making a splash.. She appears to be in a growth spurt right now but she already has a great shoulder and hip. Very calm disposition. Tom Amoss says she is the best horse to come into his stable and she might be pointed towards the Kentuky Derby.
            Stonestreet has also bred a nice filly, full sister to Malathaat (Julia Shining). She is still a bit green but one can see the potential when she won over the weekend. Others include Wonder Wheel and Justique.
            Hoping to see another awesome filly like Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra in my lifetime.

            • Davids says:

              Lynda, Bob Baffert was very high on the brilliant filly Princess Arabella and Tapit appears to becoming an influential broodmare sire so there all positives for Hoosier Philly. Princess Arabella only lasted 3 races which could be of concern. Who Knows? The dam, Tapella, only raced 8 times but her value as a broodmare would have overridden a racing career anyway.

              • Lynda King says:

                Princess Arabella was retired after her last race and did not run in The Oaks. Reason given was an intlammed tendon that would take over 6 months to heal. She was considered to be valuable as a broodmare prospect to go back into training after time off for the tendon injury to heal.

  13. Lynda King says:

    Steve and all….the cutest video of Lava Man on his I am Lava Man FB page rocking it out to rhe music. Make sure you have the sound on. I think he is happy at Old Friends!!!

  14. Eric Rickard says:

    I find it a little hard to believe that when the greats of recent times are mentioned that Zenyatta is left off the lists. Her classic win gives chills to any hors racing fan. Rachel Alexandra is a recent comparison to what Flightline accomplished. I would love to have seen Flightline run against the fields that Forego, Kelso, Dr. Fager et al ran against. Also, not taking 3-4 months or longer between starts.

  15. Lynda King says:

    Discussions about the great, greatest of all time race horses is akin to a conservative and a liberal arguing over politics.
    The definitive greatest race horse I have seen in my lifetime is unquestionably and without a doubt is Secretariat.
    Almost 50 years later, I still get chills,thrills and tears when I watch replays of his races.
    He had nearly flawless conformation, as fine a pedigree as anyone could dream to find in a Thoroughbred; he was intelligent; had speed, stamina and an almost unreal turn of foot; was very personable and when he looked at you with those deep and beautiful eyes, he would be looking into one’s heart.
    Yes, he lost races but I remind everyone, there is honor in defeat.
    His blood through his daughters and several of his sons run through the veins of Thoroughbreds today all over the world.
    Deacon, if there a Mt Rushmore for horses here in America the horses I would hope to see would be Secretariat, Man O’ War and Ruffian.

    I am now bowing out of this conversation and will leave all of you with sincere and heartfelt wishes for a joyous and Happy Holiday season!

    • SJ says:

      Well stated, Lynda. Best of the holidays to you.

    • Deacon says:

      The experts would probably argue with that. I do agree that Ruffian was the greatest filly of all time & Man O War & Secretariat are in the conversation but my eye test tells me that Spectacular Bid & Dr. Fager are the 2 best.
      Did you take into consideration the weights my above 2 horses carried. Secretariat never carried more then 126 lbs.
      I am glad you love your picks, you should, that is what makes horse racing. Most of the experts I know & I have been around the tracks since 1955 have told me the same. Dr. Fager & Spectacular Bid both raced on the west coast, that factored into my feelings.
      Anyway good luck & enjoy the holidays.

      • Cathy Rosenberger says:

        When Flightline won I was interested in his time. Spectacular Bid currently holds the world record for 1 1\4 in 1:57 3\5. As everyone was so high on Flightline I thought he would destroy this record. Not today!

    • Davids says:

      Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year, Lynda. Let’s hope it’s a good one. I’ll miss your posts.

      I’ve been thinking about Deacon’s thoroughbred equine Mount Rushmore all day. I’m having trouble with the fourth head:

      Man o’ War, Dr. Fager, Secretariat are immediate choices but number four has too many options for me.

      The European Mount Rushmore is much easier: Sea-Bird, Brigadier Gerard, Ribot, and Frankel.

      I’d rather have a split gender Mount Rushmore that try to mix. Choosing the best 4 female racehorses in the US and Europe is much more difficult than first thought.

      • Lynda King says:

        Davids I am not dropping off Steve’s forum, just not making any additional comments on this topic.

        Above I have designated Secretariat as the the greatest of “my” lifetime and listed my reasons and designated 3 horses I would put on an American Mt Rushmore of race horses. Did not list the 4th which boils down to two but in all probability either one would create a flurry of comments.

    • Sarah Cole Rowe says:

      Secretariat lost due to a bad trip in his first race; a controversial DQ in the Champagne; a compromised last work and painful mouth abscess that hurt him when Turcotte used the bit to tell him to run; a virus that made him so sick before the Whitney that he became vulnerable to a good, not-great horse in Onion that rival trainer Jenkins had primed for the race of his life; he was ripe for a bounce in the Woodward, as Steve Haskin has explained much better than I can, for his trainer rushed Red’s conditioning after his sick Whitney for the Marlboro and didn’t properly prepared for a 12-furlong race against very good older horses, such Prove Out, as ready as Jenkins could make him.