If You’re A Superstitious Racing Fan…

… this might be worth noting.

Let me open this piece with a disclaimer: I’m not comparing Justify to Secretariat. I’m a firm believer that we will never see the likes of Secretariat again in my race-fan lifetime — he was truly a separate, special class of athlete, a real once-in-a-century kind of horse, a “tremendous machine.”

But for the superstitious among us, here’s a coincidence that might make you double-take.

In 1973, the year that Secretariat smashed records and blew the world away with his Triple Crown victory, including of course that goosebump-raising blow-away victory in the Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby took place on May 5, the Preakness Stakes took place on May 19, and the Belmont took place on June 9.

This year, the Kentucky Derby took place on May 5, the Preakness Stakes took place on May 19, and the Belmont Stakes will run on June 9.

Is that enough of a coincidence to suggest the stars will align for Justify, a strapping, awe-inspiring big chestnut colt, to follow in the footsteps of the great Secretariat like an echo through history, perhaps bringing to life for one day a ghost of the past?

Okay, for the non-superstitious among us, here are a few hard facts: Secretariat won his Kentucky Derby by two and a half lengths (the same margin as Justify) as well as his Preakness Stakes by two and a half lengths — a victory, but not the smash victory you would expect before a staggering 31-length win in the Belmont.

Actually, Secretariat’s Preakness victory was all sorts of implausible, making his move in the first turn:

Justify’s winning margin in the Preakness Stakes was indeed small, and growing smaller by the second. Depending on who you ask, Bravazo either could have put him away had the race been merely a few yards longer — or Justify and Mike Smith would have rallied earlier to hold him off, rather than conserving energy and winning on momentum.

Whether you’re a superstitious individual or prefer to make your picks based on cold, hard facts, Justify’s bid for the Triple Crown remains one of the most intriguing, exciting stories to emerge from horse racing in recent years. For an excellent editorial on Justify and his Belmont chances, I recommend Steve Haskin’s Preakness wrap-up.

Thanks to Misti West for the tip on dates.

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