Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

“Oh How the Pressure Grew!” for trainer Lucien Laurin as the 60-year-old Canadian was going for his second Kentucky Derby in a row “with the chestnut wonder [perhaps] horse, Secretariat,” reported Snowden Carter.

Meadow Stud’s record-breaking syndicated ($6.08 million) Virginia-bred colt ran poorly to finish third in his final prep, the Wood Memorial, eliciting questions and comments. “Bold Rulers can’t win at a mile and a quarter; can they? Secretariat might have reached his peak too soon; mightn’t he? Horses built like this radiantly powerful racing machine are actually sprinters; aren’t they? If he gets beaten badly in the Derby, it would be better for the shareholders to confine him to mile and a sixteenth races; wouldn’t it? To question after question, Laurin stood his ground; never losing his cool, never showing by voice or expression the jabbing pains that probing questions can bring to a man’s stomach.”

Secretariat silenced the critics when sweeping home over Sham in a track record 1:592⁄5. It was the second Derby in a row for his connections, following that of Kentucky-bred Riva Ridge.

  • After three days of rain, the going was deep for the 77th Maryland Hunt Cup. This worked to the advantage of Nancy Hannum’s Morning Mac. “Everything couldn’t have worked out better for Morning Mac,” said Buzz Hannum after winning the race for the second time aboard his mother’s hunter. “The going took the speed out of the race and put a premium on jumping ability. Morning Mac was the only one whose jumping held up.” Only three of the seven starters finished, and Morning Mac and second-place Eastmac were sons of legendary Hunt Cup runner Cormac.

  • Nancy Boyce had a personal connection when writing of My Lady’s Manor winner Keelboat. Owned and ridden by H. Turney McKnight, the 6-year-old, 17-hand bay gelding by *River War was bred by Boyce and sold by her husband Gittings as a lightly raced 3-year-old. 
    “Could any parent tell an unbiased story about how his son hit a home run with the bases loaded or made the winning touchdown in a football game? Well, horse breeders feel this same sense of pride when one of their foals makes good, even though they had no part in bringing about such success,” wrote Boyce.

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