Belmont Futurity – 50th Anniversary

On September 16, 1972,  the collective eyes of the racing world turned their attention to the prestigious Belmont Futurity. Anticipation for racing fans as well as the media was heightened, all waiting to see what Secretariat would do next.

Prior to the race famed Daily Racing Form writer Charlie Hatton waxed poetic in his usual distinctive prose as evidenced in the original clipping below:

Click on Image to Enlarge

Hatton’s fellow Daily Racing Form columnist Teddy Cox wrote this about the pending contest:

“‘Secretariat first and the rest nowhere!’ That at least seems to be the general opinion of the masses who will send off the gigantic, powerful Meadow Stable superstar as a heavy favorite in the 83rd running of the $144,200 Futurity Stakes… Rarely in the history of the sport has such a comparative fledgling commanded as many rave notices clustered in superlatives as the strikingly-handsome, awesome son of Bold Ruler. The fact that six have elected to confront the colt in the 6 1/2 furlongs juvenile classic seems to be the big surprise.”

Even Frank “Pancho” Martin, New York’s reigning champion trainer (who would later challenge Secretariat with arch-rival Sham), shared his thoughts regarding a return bout with Master Achiever, who nine weeks earlier in Secretariat’s notorious, troubled first start had finished ahead the Meadow Stable colt, quipping, “I had considered entering Master Achiever in the Futurity but was afraid he might get in Secretariat’s way.” In stark contrast to his erroneously portrayed Disney film persona, the well-respected trainer graciously added, “I certainly couldn’t possibly entertain any hopes of beating Secretariat with our colt…. I’ve never seen a more perfectly balanced colt so large with such a perfect way of going. He should become one of the truly great horses of my time.”

Before the big race, the Form’s Herb Goldstein along with Cox documented the demeanor of both Secretariat and trainer Lucien Laurin:

“Laurin, a notorious ‘stall-walker,’ was in his usual nervous state. As he brought Secretariat into the saddling area, Laurin confessed ‘I’ve got butterflies, as usual’ though his charge was poised and even regally disdainful.”

The actual running of the Futurity featured yet another powerful come-from-behind performance by the emerging superstar. The Meadow Stable colt’s 1 3/4 length victory over second-place Stop the Music earned him his fifth straight trip to the winner’s circle and his largest payday to date.

Cox provided his observations of the race when he wrote:

In one resounding sweep Secretariat moved around the leaders, took dead aim at the top of the stretch and soon opened an insurmountable advantage. In another of his glittering performances that have made him the undisputed kingpin of the nation’s two-year-olds… In the final furlong, Turcotte first looked to the left for any challengers along the rail and then to the right and when he found none, he resorted only to a mild hand ride to assure victory for one of the most heralded colts ever to appear on the American scene… Backed into virtual 1-5 oblivion for the average punter, the big muscular flashy chestnut… arrived at the wire a length and three-quarters to spare under the Ron Turcotte’s confident handling.”

For his part, jockey Ron Turcotte had this to say: “He broke fine but then took himself back like he has been doing, but not so much this time. Maybe he’s beginning to forget that bumping he got in his first race.”

And Laurin, always good for a memorable quote, further provided this gem to the working press: “You know when I got this colt this spring I took one look at him and thought he wouldn’t beat a fat man. He was so perfect that I figured there had to be something wrong with him. Horses that are so good-looking usually can’t run. But this one—wow!”

It was déjà vu for the Meadow Stable team when a year prior they had taken home Futurity honors with Riva Ridge, who had since gone on to win the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. With Secretariat’s victory came the inevitable comparison questions, prompting jockey Turcotte to respond, “They are entirely different types. Secretariat hits a little harder in his action. Riva just seems to skip along.” They varied in their conformation as well. Despite both horses tallying an identical height, the burly Secretariat held a 3-inch advantage in girth over his older stablemate.

Following the race, Goldstein penned:

The Meadow Stable colt was timed in a final 1:16 2/5 for the 6 1/2 panels, while merely galloping out the final 110 yards. He most certainly would have gone faster had that been the wish of jockey Ron Turcotte. Secretariat has taught humility to all who would challenge him since his first start this season and there has to be the feeling that he is among the best to come along in quite some time.”

Goldstein further noted:

Secretariat showed no sign of being tired after the Futurity but he rested his head on the shoulder of Mrs. Penny Tweedy as she led him down ‘victory lane’ after the race, spreading mud on her dress and arm. ‘He has a mind of his own and I was not about to argue with him’, she declared. Secretariat picked up $82,320 which should allow Mrs. Tweedy to order another dress, if she so [chooses].”

And there was one last tidbit prophetically offered by Charlie Hatton:

As the colt jogged back after the race, [he] touched off a ripple of applause which grew to a tidal wave high in the stands. A horse who can stir such wholesome admiration is good for racing.”



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