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John Fogle

Today harkens memories of a champion


brief diversion: Today marks the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing.

In more than 100 years, there have been 11 Triple Crown winners, from Sir Barton in 1919 to Affirmed in 1978. Since 1978, 13 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only to lose or not run in the Belmont. This year, American Pharoah, with jockey Victor Espinoza, has won the first two legs and has a decent chance at the Triple Crown.

Back in 1973, it had been 25 years since the previous Triple Crown winner, and as is the case today, a number of horses in the intervening years had won the first two legs only to fade in the Belmont due to its extra distance.

But then along came Secretariat, who won the Belmont by 31 lengths and set a speed record that is still unmatched. And just for grins, Secretariat’s time in the 1973 Derby was about 3.5 seconds faster than American Pharoah’s 2015 time, which translates to about 24 lengths.

The point of all this is that if you Google 1973 Belmont Stakes You-Tube, you can watch an awesome performance by the greatest thoroughbred ever, and you can listen to the call by famed sportscaster Chic Anderson, including this clip at the last turn of the race: “They’re on the turn, and Secretariat is blazing along! The first three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 and four-fifths. Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine! Secretariat by 12, Secretariat by 14 lengths on the turn!” 

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Now, back to politics. Much has been said and written about how ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos contributed $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation and then did not disclose his support of the organization when he grilled Peter Schweizer about his book that is critical of the foundation.

In an astounding display of hypocrisy, Stephanopoulos, who spent years as a war room operative for the Clintons, hammered Schweizer on the fact that Schweizer had spent four months as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

In the interview, Stephanopoulos emphasized the fact that Schweizer had found no “smoking gun” linking contributions to actions by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Of course not. What he reported were facts: A person with an issue pending in the State Department makes a huge donation, and then that person gets favorable treatment from the State Department. No one can prove a connection, but we can definitely make an inference.

After his contributions were discovered by Andrew Stiles of The Washington Free Beacon, Stephanopoulos said his donations were “strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children and protect the environment in poor countries,” and then he apologized for not disclosing them.

In other words, Stephanopoulos apologized for being such a kind and generous person and giving money to help children and the environment. This reminds me that, like George, I am also a very kind and generous person, and I apologize for not disclosing that before now. And, yes, the preceding is sarcasm.

Most reports simply describe Stephanopoulos as a former operative for the Clintons. Let’s dig a bit deeper. Again, there are no smoking guns, just facts that when laid out, allow one to make a judgment.

In political circles, it’s generally accepted that the optimum day to drop damaging information about one’s opponent is the Thursday before the election. For example, the “news” that George W. Bush had been arrested 20 years earlier for a DUI was released on the Thursday before the 2000 election. However, on the Friday before the 1992 election, the Office of Independent Counsel issued an indictment of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger — a day late. The indictment included negative references to President George H.W. Bush, who was running for re-election.

The key here is that Stephanopoulos released a detailed news release after the indictment, but the date at the top of his release was Thursday. If there had been illegal collusion between the prosecutor (a left-wing lawyer named James Brosnahan) and the Clinton campaign, they would have agreed on a target date of Thursday, and the news release would have been composed a week or two in advance — including the Thursday date at the top.

Stephanopoulos dismissed the error as a “typo.” You make the call. 

John Fogle welcomes your comments at .