Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby Saddlecloth Mystery

Investigation Into Famous 1A Saddlecloth Missing Since 1973 Will Premiere Sunday, May 8

Kentucky Derby Duo

Secretariat – 1973 Kentucky Derby

NEW YORK, NY (MAY 4, 2016) – An investigation conducted by the Smithsonian Channel series SPORTS DETECTIVES into the missing saddlecloth worn by Secretariat for his 1973 Kentucky Derby-winning ride can be seen this Sunday, May 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

In 1973, Secretariat became the first horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes, launching a season that would make him the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. But amid the celebration of victory, one critical artifact of the win disappeared – his iconic black saddlecloth bearing the number “1A.” For decades it has stood as one of horse racing’s greatest lost treasures.

On the trail, SPORTS DETECTIVES co-host Lauren Gardner met with jockey Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat for all three Triple Crown races. He revealed that in the late 1990’s the saddlecloth was mailed to him, with a note asking him to autograph it. Turcotte remembered signing the object and sending it back, but couldn’t recall the name of the person who sent it to him.

In the episode Leonard Lusky of, and the premiere resource for authenticating items pertaining to the legendary horse, says he was contacted in 2002 by someone claiming to have had the saddlecloth since May 5, 1973, the day that Secretariat claimed the first leg of the Triple Crown. Lusky was never able to meet the person, however.

SPORTS DETECTIVES is a docu-series that investigates missing or disputed treasures from some of the most iconic moments in American sports history. Stories in SPORTS DETECTIVES are told through first-hand accounts from the players, managers, announcers, and fans who witnessed sports history unfold. With state-of-the-art technology, sports analysis, and real-life detective work, SPORTS DETECTIVES plunges into the moments that made these objects so coveted, piecing together the evidence for what happened and why. For more information visit

Smithsonian Channel™, owned by Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms.  Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture.


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