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The Way We Were

In this June 9, 1973 photo, jockey Ron Turcotte hangs on as Secretariat romps along the final stretch just before the finish line and a victory in the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes, winning the Triple Crown at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo)

In this June 9, 1973 photo, jockey Ron Turcotte hangs on as Secretariat romps along the final stretch just before the finish line and a victory in the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes, winning the Triple Crown at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo)

When Secretariat ended 25-year drought for Triple Crown winners 

By THE HISTORY CHANNEL

With a spectacular victory at the Belmont Stakes 47 years ago this week, Secretariat became the first horse since Citation in 1948 to win America’s coveted Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

In one of the finest performances in racing history, Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, completed the 1.5-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a dirt-track record for that distance.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Stables in Doswell, Virginia, on March 30, 1970. He was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness winner, and foaled by Somethingroyal, which came from a Thoroughbred line known for its stamina. An attractive chestnut colt, he grew to over 16 hands high and was at two years the size of a three-year-old.

He ran his first race as a two-year-old on July 4, 1972, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Aqueduct in New York City. He came from behind to finish fourth; it was the only time in his career that he finished a race and did not place. Eleven days later, he won a six-furlong race at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and soon after, another race. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, moved him up to class in August, entering him in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, which he won by three lengths. By the end of 1972, he had won seven of nine races.

With easy victories in his first two starts of 1973, Secretariat seemed on his way to the Triple Crown. Just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, however, he stumbled at the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, coming in third behind Angle Light and Sham. On May 5, he met Sham and Angle Light again at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat, a 3-to-2 favorite, broke from near the back of the pack to win the 1 1/4-mile race in a record 1 minute and 59 2/5th seconds. He was the first to run the Derby in less than two minutes and his record still stands.

Two weeks later, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretariat won the second event of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. The official clock malfunctioned, but hand-recorded timers had him running the 1 3/16-mile race in record time.

On June 9, 1973, almost 100,000 people came to Belmont Park near New York City to see if “Big Red” would become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat gave the finest performance of his career in the Belmont Stakes, completing the 1.5-mile race in a record 2 minutes and 24 seconds, knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. He also won by a record 31 lengths.

Ron Turcotte, who jockeyed Secretariat in all but three of his races, claimed that at Belmont he lost control of Secretariat and that the horse sprinted into history on his own accord.

Secretariat would race six more times, winning four and finishing second twice. In November 1973, the “ horse of the century” was retired and put to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Among his notable offspring is the 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner, Risen Star. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after falling ill. An autopsy showed that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of the average horse, which may have contributed to his extraordinary racing abilities. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of the Top 50 North American athletes of the 20th century, the only non-human on the list.


Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907 

THURSDAY
JUNE 13, 1940

Willis Sturgill of Eolia, son of Silas Sturgill of the same place, was reported to have been severely cut Sunday in some kind of affray or drunken brawl near the Big Ben Hotel on the other side of Pine Mountain. Sturgill is in the Lynch Hospital in a serious condition and at this time the report is that he is not expected to live, two of his intestines being completely severed.

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Mr. S.M. Banks and Sigsby Collier had an unusual experience in finding (moonshine) stills this week when they located one under a church on Colly. The still was of the 50-gallon capacity and there were also three fifty-gallon barrels of course. Someone had just planted it there in the hopes of returning for it at a later date.

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A very, very unusual and exciting incident occurred at the Wallace Bros. Carnival in lower Whitesburg Saturday night. Isaac Hatton, deputy constable, attempted to arrest George York for drunken disturbance. York resisted arrest and started to run and thereupon Hatton is said to have drawn his gun and started firing. Some of the shots ran wild into the crowd and two or three innocent bystanders were wounded, one of whom was Mrs. Chas. Blair of Whitesburg. York is said to have been wounded by a shot but not seriously. Many of our citizens were heard to denounce this kind of law enforcement, especially in the midst of a large gathering.

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Shirley Temple stars in “The Bluebird”, playing at the Bentley Theatre in Neon. Also showing is “Farmer’s Daughter” with Martha Raye and Charles Ruggles.

THURSDAY
JUNE 15, 1950

Representatives from the Whitesburg Business Men’s Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, V.F.W. Club, Athletic Association, Jr. Chamber of Commerce, and American Legion met at the City Hall and planned a big Celebration for the 4th of July. It is anticipated that this will be one of the greatest events ever given in Letcher County. Hundreds of dollars in Cash Prizes will be given Free during the celebration. Highlights of the day will include a giant parade headed by the Whitesburg Band and civic organizations, Soft Ball Game, Fire Works, and Street Dance.

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Silas Hall, who has been an escaped convict since 1948, was captured by the county sheriff ’s force this week near Kona. Hall was convicted and sentenced to life for murder several years ago, and served his eight years but later broke probation rules and went back to prison. The late Bill Caudill had him in his custody bringing him to Letcher County to visit Hall’s supposed to be sick mother when near his home he broke away from the officer, and got away, having been at large since that time.

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Recommendations designed to expand the current safety program at the 1,000-ton-a-day Winters mine of the Consolidation Coal Company are presented in a Federal reinspection report issued by the Bureau of Mines. At Farraday in Letcher County the mine employed 103 men when Inspector John F. Wilson completed his reexamination in May. The inspector commended the good ventilation, use of permissible explosives and approved shot-firing units for blasting coal and rock on shift, and effective rock dusting. However he also proposed offset installation and explosion doors for two main ventilating fans and pressure gauges and automatic section magazine, and using the available dust-allaying facilities to control coal dust during cutting.

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Playing at the Elinda Ann Drive-In Theatre are “Canadian Pacific” starring Randolph Scott and Jane Wyatt, “Whispering Smith” starring Alan Ladd, and ”Blue Grass of Kentucky” starring Bill Williams and Jane Nigh. A fourth film, “Secrets of a Model” is for adults only.

THURSDAY
JUNE 16, 1960

Letcher County at long last has taken definite action to replace its ancient and decrepit jailhouse. Fiscal Court at its June meeting instructed County Attorney F. Byrd Hogg to place on the ballot for the coming election a question of issuing bonds to pay for a new jail. The magistrates heard cost estimates of around $200,000. The plan is to raze the present structure, which was built before the turn of the century, and replace it.

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State Rep. Harry M. Caudill of Whitesburg was named this week to a two-year term on the new Commission on Public Education. The commission will undertake a detailed study in the depth of public education in Kentucky.

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Army Sgt. First Class Solomon H. Halcomb, 34, participated recently with other personnel from the 37th Armor in supervising the Seventh Army tank gunner program in Bergen-Hohne, Germany. Sergeant Halcomb entered the Army in 1945. He arrived overseas on this tour of duty in October 1959.

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A deer-hunting season is provided this year in the Pine Mountain Game Preserve in Letcher County. The four-day season is Nov. 30 through Dec. 3. Either buck or doe deer maybe killed, with one deer the limit for the season.

THURSDAY
JUNE 11, 1970

A fourth of the people who lived in Letcher County in 1960 are no longer here, a report from the Census Bureau shows. The Census Bureau said its 1970 people count shows Letcher County with 22,590 residents. This is a decline of 7,512 from the 1960 figures of 30,102.

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Knott County is the first Kentucky mountain county to attempt to outlaw strip mining. The county Fiscal Court voted 3 to 2 to adopt an ordinance declaring strip mining to be a nuisance and therefore illegal.

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Angel Lynn “Jill” Combs, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Combs, was valedictorian of the 1970 graduating class at Whitesburg High School. Salutatorian was Janice Kaye Lucas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Lucas.

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Burnis Back, son of the late Bill Back of Sergent, received a commendation medal for good service in the Army from the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. Back is a warrant officer stationed at Lagos, Nigeria.

The Whitesburg Jaycees will sponsor a series of dances for young people. The dances will be held on the playground behind the Presbyterian Church, and Whitesburg Jaycees and their wives will chaperone the dances.

THURSDAY
JUNE 12, 1980

Residents of the Lakeside area of Jenkins feared that a 68-year-old water tank located above their homes might collapse, sending 500,000 gallons of water rolling down the hill and onto their homes. Water was spotted streaming through gaping holes at the top of the old tank, resembling a disaster in Jenkins last summer when a much newer water tank ruptured and sent 300,000 gallons of water down the mountainside, killing Dr. T.M. Perry and destroying his home, another home and a grocery store. Engineers with the state Department of Natural Resources came and surveyed the site and drained much of the water from the tank.

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Whitesburg Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade students next year will attend classes in three re-locatable buildings and two trailers that will be placed on School Hill. The students were left without a classroom when fire destroyed the old Whitesburg Middle School last January. Classes were held for the remainder of the school year at the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg.

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Despite numerous layoffs and a statewide “industry slump,” Kentucky coal mines produced a record 150 million tons of coal in 1979. The latest production figures top the previous high of 144 million tons set in 1976.

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Mary Ann Morris, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Morris of Jeremiah, was named champion in the State 4-H Talk Meet. She was the winner in the 13-year-old division and “Inflation” was the title of her talk.

WEDNESDAY
JUNE 13, 1990

Teachers and other school system workers throughout Letcher County will get pay raises ranging from 16 to 18 percent for the coming school year. The raises are the result of the Kentucky Education Reform Act passed by the state legislature earlier this year.

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The Letcher County Fiscal Court has voted to begin hauling garbage in one area of the county where County Attorney Harold Bolling says contract haulers have left residents without garbage service. The court approved an emergency declaration and an ordinance that will allow county workers to pick up garbage in garbage franchise area four near Fleming-Neon. The move also clears the way for the county to pick up garbage itself once a mandatory garbage pickup ordinance is approved, Bolling said.

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Goebel Ritter of Whitesburg has been elected to the Dawahare-Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Ritter is presently an assistant superintendent in the Letcher County School System. He coached Hazard High School to the state championship in 1955. Ritter served two stints as head basketball coach at Whitesburg High School, the first in the 1960s and the second as interim head coach in the mid-1980s.

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For the fourth straight summer, the Letcher County AAU All-Stars will compete in the 13-15 year old AAU state basketball tournament in Frankfort. The Letcher County players will be coached by Dickie Adams and Ozz Jackson.

WEDNESDAY
JUNE 7, 2000

The Mountain Eagle and its owners, Tom and Pat Gish, are featured in a special edition of Kentucky Life, which will be shown on Kentucky Educational Television. During the telecast, the Gishes look back on their 43 years of publishing The Eagle and the problems and pleasures their work has brought them.

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Construction of sewer lines in the Forest Hills section of Jenkins and water lines along KY 805 should begin sometime this fall. The water project is expected to cost about $300,000 and will be paid for by a Community Development Block Grant allocated to Jenkins. The sewer project will cost about $348,000 and will be paid by a combination of a grant from PRIDE and a loan from the Kentucky Association of Area Development Districts.

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“Mission Impossible” starring Tom Cruise is showing at the Jeremiah Drive-In Theatre. The second feature is “The Next Best Thing” with Madonna.

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The Whitesburg Lady ‘Jackets used a strong defense and outstanding pitching to upset Jenkins 2-1 in the finals of the 14th Region softball tournament.

WEDNESDAY
JUNE 9, 2010

Jenkins Independent Schools will be starting the coming school year with a new principal at the middle high school. MHS Principal Lisa Carroll, who was hired last summer, submitted her notice of intent to resign on Monday.

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Professional football in Letcher County began Saturday on a losing note, as the new Letcher County Wolves dropped their season-opening game to the two-time defending league champions, the Knoxville Knights.

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The first race was held last weekend at a new dirt track in Letcher County. The Lucky 7 Speedway is named for the late Lucky Banks, owner of the land on which the track is located on Highway 7.

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