One of the reasons the first jewel of the Triple Crown has become so important is its role as kingmaker. From Citation to Affirmed, many of the greatest horses of all time came to the world's attention at the Kentucky Derby.
Secretariat runs the fastest Derby ever
Secretariat was famous even before he won the Triple Crown and he was the favorite to win for the Derby. But the horse known as Big Red lost his final race before the Kentucky Derby, so there were some questions. But not for long.
The 13-horse Derby shaped up as a duel between Secretariat and Sham. The two held back early -- Secretariat at the rear; Sham just off the lead. Then Laffit Pincay moved Sham to the front just before the final turn. Turcotte moved Secretariat to the outside to close on Sham, who was picking up steam.
"I didn't think anybody would be able to catch him," Pincay said of Sham. "I knew we were going to win."
Secretariat had other ideas. He caught Sham halfway down the stretch and won by 2 1/2 lengths in a world-record time of 1:59 2/5, the only Derby winner to crack two minutes.
Secretariat went on to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 31 lengths. That week Big Red made the cover of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated—the first and last time that ever happened.
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