The Heart of A Champion

Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989)
Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989)

Every year for the Belmont Stakes, the winner is crowned with a blanket of carnations. There is always another horse crowned with carnations on the same day: The statue of Secretariat. If you have never seen Secretariat’s Belmont run in 1973, you are in for a treat as the distance increases to a point where the place horse can no longer be kept in the frame.

In the history of the Triple Crown, only 11 horses have achieved this peak of performance. It is the supreme test for a very young horse. This year California Chrome will attempt to join their ranks.

Year  / Winner
1919 Sir Barton
1930 Gallant Fox
1935 Omaha
1937 War Admiral
1941 Whirlaway
1943 Count Fleet
1946 Assault
1948 Citation
1973 Secretariat
1977 Seattle Slew
1978 Affirmed

The Belmont itself has a great history and several traditions. The first running of the Belmont Stakes in 1867 took place at Jerome Park. The Belmont is the oldest of the Triple Crown events, predating the Preakness by six years and the Kentucky Derby by eight. The blanket of carnations worn by the Belmont Stakes winner takes 10 man hours to put together. The song has changed over the years. Originally it was “Sidewalks of New York” written about the city in the 1890s. It was also used as the theme song by Al Smith in his candidacy for the Presidency.

This has been changed to the more modern New York New York

For those charging their glasses to salute the winner, the official beverage of the Belmont is the Belmont Breeze: Created by Dale DeGroff, head bartender at Manhattan’s Rainbow Room/Windows on the World housed in the North Tower and lost on 9/11, the cocktail is based on an old, Colonial recipe for whiskey punch: “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.”

  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce Dry Sack Medium Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Splash of orange juice
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1 mint sprig
  • 1 orange zest

So join us for this final race in the Trailmix racing calendar as we all root for California Chrome no matter which horse our cyber jockeys may be riding in the race and contesting for The August Belmont Trophy.

Belmont Horses by Post Position with Jockeys / Trail Mixers
(Post time 6:35 PM ET Saturday; NBC coverage begins at 4:30 PM)
01. Medal Count – Robby Albarado
02. California Chrome – Victor Espinoza – Rebellious, Patd, Pogo, BethyBoo
03. Matterhorn – Joe Bravo – Nash 2.5
04. Commanding Curve – Shaun Bridgmohan – KGC
05. Ride On Curlin – John Velazquez – Dexter, Jamie
06. Matuszak – Mike Smith
07. Samraat– Jose Oriz – Whiskey Jack
08. Commissioner – Javier Castellano – XR, Flatus, Sturgeone
09. Wicked Strong – Rajiv Maragh – Jace, Renee’s Shadow, Blue Bronc
10. General A Rod – Rosie Naprovnik – DaveB
11. Tonalist – Joel Rosario – Craig

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Retired writer/editor/researcher

46 thoughts on “The Heart of A Champion”

  1. Jamie… I can’t imagine there’ll ever be another Secretariat. Thanks for posting his winning TC race.
    Every time I see it I break out in goose bumps.

    In honor of Big Red I’ll dispense with the usual woo woo… galloooop… galloooop….

  2. RebelliousRenee: In honor of Big Red


    Secretariat’s last footage.
    My brother Bill was driving by the farm where Secretariat was living. He shot some video which turned out to be some of the last video taken of this special horse. This was a day or two before Secretariat was put down. The TV station Bill worked for turned the footage into a wonderful story.

  3. Perhaps all the horses should try to finish together, then we would finally have racial equality.

  4. “Your tail is tangled and full of burrs.”

    “You’re too fat.”

    “No one wants to breed with you.”

    -All the younger horses, “putting down” Secretariat.

  5. Dex – thanks for the A-Rod info. Of course, if the horse were named for the baseball player, it would be A-Roid!

  6. I’ve always been fascinated by the size of Secretariat’s heart which is discussed in the link in the article, but essentially it was huge at about 22 pounds as this is a trait that seems to be shared by the greatest of race horses.

    “We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine” Dr. Thomas Swerczek, head pathologist at the University of Kentucky

    If it hadn’t been for the laminitis (the same condition that finally took Barbaro), Secretariat would have probably lived much longer than his 19 years.

  7. look out Chrome, looks like I picked a good ride:

    Though Tonalist didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes, he’s considered one of the strongest threats to Triple Crown contender California Chrome. He won the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.” — Baltimore Sun

  8. Last night I stayed up past my bed time and watched c-span’s replay of the official ceremony held yesterday at Normandy.

    Discard the interminable arrival of guests, which can be fast forwarded. And, put out of mind the many head shots of our president chomping on his favorite chewing gum.

    Our French hosts, headed by President Hollande, gave a marvelous ceremonial/theatrical immersive presentation which took us through the WW2 ‘experience’ and how we can’t allow ourselves to repeat that tragedy.

    His marvelous rhetoric completely erased the lingering resentment remaining from Marshal Petain and General de Gaulle. It was riveting.

  9. Flatus,

    Watched some of the ceremony as well. Glad I did.

    Seventy years after the fact, D-day still remains for me at least a stunning achievement. The size and complexity of the operation were breath taking.

  10. Jace,

    The War was close enough that I, as a toddler, had visions of airplanes dogfighting outside my bedroom window.

    In our daily life as Americans, the War was all-encompassing.

  11. “Mr. President, you love to trade people,” Paul said at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth, as quoted by Politico. “Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats?” he joked. “I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi …” Rand Paul

    This is why it is so easy to detest the GOP. Paul is just another of many examples of the type of totally unqualified, off the deep end, politicians that the modern GOP expects us to believe are viable, experienced candidates.( Think Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry)

    Join the circus Rand, there is still an empty seat or two in the clown car.

  12. Flatus,

    In my small town, German POW s were held and housed at the local fairgrounds.

    My uncle was somewhere in Europe in a tank destroyer battalion fighting Germans, and German POWS were helping my dad then 16 years old harvest the sugar beet crop.

    Unusual times.

  13. Blue Bronc,

    Glad to have some company on Wicked Strong.
    We’ll sandwich Renee’s shadow in between us, and we’ll be in for a Hell of a ride.

  14. Jace
    I understand Obama did offer to trade Rand Paul and the Taliban were willing to talk about it, but only if we release 20 more Taliban first.
    Personally I think the president made a mistake by not taking them up on the offer.

  15. This may be the perfect weekend:

    Belmont Stakes
    Political Shows
    Tony Awards

    About the only thing missing is a trip to somewhere anywhere :)

  16. blitzer twit : “Congrats to @DavidChalian the new @CNN Political Director. He really knows politics. We’re fortunate to have him.”

    chalian is from politico, yahoo, and abc. He was educated up the hill in Georgetown.

    I expect the worst.

  17. XR

    I’ve found the perfect theme song – It may be British but nothing is lost in translation while crossing the pond.


  18. Jamie,

    Bugger is probably at the top of their forbidden words so it will never make it to the BBC. Damned shame.

    I should have liked being a bug on the wall of this meeting of two defense ministers:

    June 07, 2014
    Readout of Secretary Hagel’s meeting with French Defense Minister Le Drian

    Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby:

    “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met today in Paris with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian after attending D-Day ceremonies the day before in Normandy.

    “In keeping with the close relationship between the two militaries and the friendship between the two Ministers, the talks were open and wide-ranging. Topics included counter-terrorism activities in Africa, where the U.S. and France have many common interests in helping African nations deal with this threat.

    “The two leaders also discussed the NATO Summit, Russian actions in Ukraine, the French sale of Mistral-class ships to Russia, and the security concerns of allies in Southern Europe. They spent time reflecting on the D-Day anniversary and the history of the past century, with Secretary Hagel remarking that the D-Day ceremony “is a reminder of what history teaches and informs us if we are wise enough to learn from events from the past.”


  19. DAMN! Another potential Triple Crown winner bites the dust…

    Congrats Craig!

  20. The Final Order of Finish

    Place Horse
    1 Tonalist
    2 Commissioner
    3 Medal Count
    4 California Chrome
    5 Wicked Strong
    6 Samraat
    7 General A Rod
    8 Matterhorn
    9 Commanding Curve
    10 Matuszak
    11 Ride on Curlin

  21. Tonalist paid 20.40, 9>60 & 7.
    Exacta paid 348
    Trifecta paid 3390.

    Lots of money lost today – luckily, none of it was mine. 😉

  22. Jamie,

    I know he sounded like sour grapes… but I agree with him. After seeing horse after horse win the Derby and the Preakness only to fall to a freshly run horse in the Belmont, it’ll take a miracle horse to win the Triple Crown ever again, IMO.

  23. Texas GOP straw poll: 43% want Cruz for President. Rand Paul and Ben Carson tie for second place at 12% each.

    Oh yes let Teddy run for president! There is nothing I like better than the look of a 40 state loser.

  24. Jamie and RR,

    It is frustrating to see rested horses come in and take the Belmont.

    I feel much the same about baseball. Whatever happened to the day when great pitchers were great in part because they pitched and won complete games?

    I guess times and priorities change even in sports.

  25. jace,

    That’s the 2nd straw poll Cruz has won.
    The news from the convention is just laughable. Sexual re-orientation rehab.
    No to immigration, but a guest-worker program like in “WWII when all of the men were overseas.” Yep, a way to keep wages depressed & relive the good, old days…conveniently forgetting women helped fill those jobs. The clips on the news, man, a lot of scared, old white people.

    I do remember Affirmed, mostly because I had a crush on Steve Cauthen & the farm’s silks were so pretty. Haven’t been following the races anymore, but the Tony’s are tomorrow night & I’ll follow that instead.

  26. Oh, yeah, they are referring to their idea about immigration as “The Texas Solution.” Sounds kinda brown-shirty to me.

  27. Blueindallas,

    The Texas GOP convention sounds like a real riot,
    Not exactly the Spanish Inquisition but not far from it.

    Cruz is another one of the clowns I failed to mention in my previous conversation about the republican clown car. apparently he is the driver.

    Does no one in Texas have the common decency to be ashamed of this type of behavior?

  28. Commissioner did pretty well considering he was carrying Sturgeone and his string bass, Flatus and his rpg, and me with my m1943 120mm mortar.

  29. Thank you for the music, Jamie.

    It was lovely. Sweetie sees it as a great finale for a musical.

    I can just picture it – with Mrs Lafarge knitting in the front row.

  30. blueINdallas,


    If you really want to OD on the Tonys you can watch the last rehearsals on from roughly 8-9 AM tomorrow East Coast time. My obsessions are simple: horses, dancers and live theater.
    It’s all about the music and the legs … lol

  31. Oh, yeah. Cruz was born in Canada.

    Rick Perry came in 4th in the TX, GOP straw poll…so…the ‘baggers are gonna make 2016 sadly hilarious, cuz they are clearly taking over the party.

  32. Cruz. Is he a natural born citizen? I guess he is, damnit. At least he’ll add a little ( OK, a lot) of comedy to the’pugn primary circus.

  33. Jamie,
    thanks. great find. too bad the occupy wall streeters didn’t serenade us with that. would have been a big hit. still might be. maybe we can add another verse about “bugger the baggers”

    here from the austerity allstars page is their
    Bugger The Bankers – KARAOKE BACKING TRACK

  34. about the triple crown topic, what’s the name/symbol for losing all three races? a tri-cornered dunce cap maybe?

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