Garden State

Nov. 18, 1972 ~ $125,000 Garden State Stakes ~ 1 1/16 mile ~ Garden State Park

The final race of Secretariat's two-year-old season was the rich Garden State Stakes, with the winner's $179,199 share going to Secretariat, and the second-place check of $59,733 going to his stablemate Angle Light. A fine payday in trainer Lucien Laurin's barn.

Secretariat's triumph was a carbon copy of his previous victories from last to first with a flourish. The Daily Racing Form chart caller noted that Secretariat was "allowed to settle into stride, rallied boldly around horses on the final turn, gained command after straightening into the stretch and was in hand in the final stages." At the wire, jockey Ron Turcotte had Big Red 3 ½ lengths on top of Angle Light, who was, incidentally, ridden by Ron Turcotte's brother Rudy.

Again the pari-mutuel prices were modest, with the entry of Secretariat and Angle Light soaking up all the payoffs at $2.20 to win, and $2.10 to place. There was no show wagering.

Secretariat had long ago wrapped up the mythical North American two-year-old championship. As his victories and earnings mounted, the respect the horse was earning also grew. Soon the year-end voting of sportswriters would find Secretariat named 1972 Horse of the Year for horses of all ages. To vote a two- year-old Horse of the Year was unheard of. But Secretariat was an unheard-of kind of horse.

With winter approaching, trainer Lucien Laurin sent Secretariat south and gave the horse some time away from racing, to rest and fill out his huge frame as he turned three years old. Racing fans had seen greatness in 1972, and looked for more in the following spring. Secretariat was everyone's favorite for the 1973 Kentucky Derby.