Congratulations!

Kudos to Bob Baffert, Mike Smith and everyone else in the Justify crew! As Smith and Justify controlled the pace, when he ran the first half-mile in 48 seconds and change and the first six furlongs in a minute, 13 seconds and change I told my wonderful wife that Justify was probably going to win the race. My father’s gas station was across the street from Pimlico (a TERRIBLE neighborhood now) and I spent many days at the track. Believe it or not, my tremendous and growing aversion to newsprint—I can’t STAND the smell or the feel—makes it difficult for me to bet at the local track because I like to study the charts in the Daily Racing Form before I bet. Strange, you say? Well, if the shoe fits…

Oh, given the difference in times if Secretariat could be resurrected, he would have won yesterday’s race by more than 20 lengths over Justify. No offense intended to Justify, just an affirmation of the greatness of Secretariat.

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I have been reading The Pontiac Solstice Book, which chronicles the development of the car. The book is not really an objective history, but more of a promotional piece.

The Solstice (and Sky) had a very compressed time from concept to production. One of the key players in the program, Mark Hogan, made what has turned out to be a sadly ironic remark, “If the market keeps fragmenting into lower volume, more expressive vehicles, the ability of a manufacturer—GM, Toyota or anybody else—to do these low-cost, low-volume vehicles becomes the holy grail.” Of course, the lower volume, more expressive vehicles have become the sole domain of very expensive car makes and the large manufacturers just grind out as many SUVs, pickup trucks and cars that all look alike as they can. I have long believed and often written that General Motors should have kept producing the Solstice/Sky, with some refinements, as a Buick halo car.

The higher performance version of this model, the Solstice GXP/Sky Red Line, was a hell of a car. The turbocharged, 2-liter (122 cubic inches, to make Bill Stephens happy), 4-cylinder engine produced 260 HP and 260 LB-FT of torque, the highest specific output for any GM engine in history. Pontiac and Saturn even had a program for a dealer performance upgrade that boosted HP to 290. The car only weighed about 3,000 pounds. In homage:

See the source image

From pinthiscars.com a picture of a Pontiac Solstice, a GXP, in fact.

See the source image

From hiswheel.com a picture of a Saturn Sky.

In my opinion, these cars still stand out amidst the homogenized offerings of today’s large car companies. I know this plea falls on deaf ears, but GM, bring back this car!

Homage to the KING

If Justify wins the Belmont Stakes today then he will become the 13th thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown, winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont. On this day in 1973, the greatest thoroughbred of all time won the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Of course, I am referring to Secretariat.

If you’re not a fan of horse racing you cannot understand the impact of Secretariat. He was the first Triple Crown winner of the TV era. Yes, TV existed in 1948 when Citation won the Triple Crown, but there were fewer than 50,000 TV sets in American homes. Secretariat was an amazingly handsome horse. I don’t think a photo posted in a blog can do him justice, but here goes:

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From horseworld-williams.blogspot.com

Secretariat holds the record for the fastest time in EACH of the Triple Crown races and he raced in them 45 years ago. His Belmont performance is the single greatest in the history of thoroughbred racing. Again, if you are not a fan of horse racing you cannot appreciate the magnitude of that performance. Trying to use a baseball analogy and a little hyperbole to make the point, Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont was equivalent to a player hitting five homeruns in the seventh game of the World Series.

Let me see if I can make that point another way. Andrew Beyer has developed a widely used system of rating the performance of horses called the Beyer Speed Figure. The Daily Racing Form publishes this number for every horse in every race in the US. A Beyer figure of 90 is very good, a figure of 100 is excellent. Secretariat’s Beyer number for the 1973 Belmont was 139.

 

That is a one of a kind painting of Secretariat that I have owned since 1997. If I am to be truthful, the painting is no longer hanging in the house because I have a Belmont Stakes photo of Secretariat hanging in that space. I would like to show you the photo, but Secretariat.com is very emphatic that it owns the copyright to all likenesses it sells and would probably come after me if I posted it on my little blog.

If you plan on watching the Belmont today, enjoy the race.