Hopeful Stakes – 50th Anniversary is proud to recognize the 50th Anniversary of Secretariat’s victory in the 1972 Hopeful Stakes. The racing community had been buzzing about the chestnut colt since his maiden victory but the prestigious Hopeful Stakes was the race that first thrust the Meadow Stable youngster into the national spotlight. Secretariat’s commanding performance in his fifth career start left no doubt he was an emerging force in the sport and the buzz would quickly escalate into a roar.

The media attention that would follow Secretariat for the rest of his life had begun as well. One of the first feature stories to focus on Secretariat was written two days before the Hopeful by journalist Murray Robinson for the Troy (NY) Times-Record. The article is shown in its entirety from the original newspaper clippings below:

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Following the race, Secretariat’s national exposure took root and even the esteemed New York Times chimed in a column written by Joe Nichols:

“Secretariat of the Meadow Stable won the $86,550 Hopeful with, in the parlance of the race track cognoscenti, ‘contemptuous ease,’ today. Shooting from last place to first on the stretch turn, Secretariat went on to take the 6 1/2 furlong sprint for 2-year-olds by five lengths…. The achievement of Secretariat was made most remarkable, even in view of his expected triumph, by his lightening forward thrust. He was shuffled back to last place soon after the start… to all intents and purposes, was not in the hunt as the field hit into the stretch turn. Suddenly, as if activated by coiled springs, Secretariat was up front… After that the Meadow Stable colt went his own way extending his lead over his foes with every stride.”

Original Meadow Stable Hopeful Stakes Trophy

The late, great journalist and author Bill Nack succinctly summed up the performance with his typical eloquence:

“As Secretariat streaked down the stretch that afternoon at Saratoga, leading a field of eight at the end of a charge that saw him sweep from last to first in just 290 yards, the whole of the clubhouse crowd at the Spa seemed to rise to their feet at once, dazzled by the show they were witnessing in the Hopeful Stakes. No one had seen a two-year-old perform so brilliantly at the ancient course and veteran observers were electrified by this smashing performance in Saratoga’s premiere juvenile event. Indeed, as things turned out, the Hopeful was the crystal ball that envisioned the colt’s incomparable future.”

As for Ron Turcotte, here is what he had to say about the race:

“He took himself back as he usually does right after the break. He was trying to run, trying to get with it and get in his best stride, but he just couldn’t. I wasn’t panicky but I was thinking, ‘My God, pick it up! Will ya?’ I let him settle into stride and he began to pick up on his own as we came to the half-mile pole. By the the time we straightened out, he was in front. Through the stretch he just kept reaching out without pressure.”

Secretariat had come to Saratoga with one maiden win, and he left the Spa with three victories in 27 days, each more dazzling than the last. From his allowance race victory to his first stakes win in the Sanford to his mature-beyond-his-years acceleration in the Hopeful, the colt was beginning to turn heads among casual fans and veteran handicappers alike.

The Hopeful Stakes served as a springboard for the rich slate of juvenile stakes that would soon follow. Secretariat now was coming into his own with both poise and power. Next up for Secretariat was his inaugural appearance at the track 190 miles to the south that in less than a year would become the setting for the defining performance of his career: Belmont Park.


Secretariat Hopeful Stakes Golden Anniversary Offerings – Please preview a variety of treasures associated with the 1972 Hopeful Stakes that will be available for purchase directly from the Secretariat/Meadow Stable Archives beginning Sunday, Aug 28 at 11:30 a.m. EDT.  Items include a rare original 1972 Hopeful Stakes track program and photos hand-signed by Ron Turcotte, Penny Chenery, and Charlie Davis. Available on a first-come basis while our extremely limited quantities last!


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