Secretariat, Kentucky Derby, 1972. The following is an excerpt from my friend John Jeremiah Sullivan’s book Blood Horses:
There is a passage on the tape that I noticed only after watching it dozens of times. It occurs near the end of the race. The cameraman has zoomed up pretty close on Secretariat, leaving the lens just wide enough to capture the horse and a few feet of track. Then, about half a furlong before the wire (it is hard to tell), the camera inexplicably stops tracking the race and holds still. Secretariat rockets out of the frame, leaving the screen blank, or rather filled with empty track. I timed this emptiness – the space between Secretariat exiting and Twice a Prince entering the image – with my watch. It lasts seven seconds. And somehow each of these seconds says more about what made Secretariat great than any shot of him in motion could. In the history of profound absences – the gaps in Sappho’s fragments, Christ’s tomb, the black panels of Rothko’s chapel – this is among the most beautiful.