SECRETARIAT, REMEMBERING A RACING LEGEND

by Alicia Davis

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT !  Three-year old wins triple crown and sets new track record! That's what the newspaper headlines were on June 9, 1973.

Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970 at 12:10 A.M. at Meadow Stud Farm in Virginia.

The colt was a real strong chestnut, a big foal, with stockings on all legs but the left front. After five names were rejected by the Jockey Club, the colt was finally named Secretariat.
 His nickname was Big Red.

He was frisky but aggressive, but not mean. He had a take charge style long before he reached the track. 
He was boss of the herd.

His mother Somethingroyal never won a race, she was a top broodmare, producing other stake winners, including Sir Gaylord who was undefeated as a three year-old, when 
he was injured the day before the 1962 Kentucky Derby.

His father Bold Ruler was horse of the year in 1957.

The Chenery's, owner's of Somethingroyal had a foal-share agreement with Ogden Phipps who owned Bold Ruler. Bold Ruler was bred to Somethingroyal and another mare owned by the Chenerys in 1968 and 1969. A coin flip at Belmont Park decided the ownership of the foals. The winner got first choice and the loser go first choice next year. 
Mr. Phipps won.

So the second year the chestnut son of Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal belonged to Meadow Stables.

Secretariat was owned by Penny Chenery. 
The trainer was Lucien Laurin, and the jockey was Ron Turcotte.

Secretariat's first race was at Aqueduct. He was shoved sideways almost dropping to his knees when a colt named Quebec turned left out of the gate and crashed into him. He was blocked in traffic down the back side, cut off deep in the stretch as he was making his final run. After really running he was beaten only by 1 1/4 lengths finishing fourth. 
Two weeks later he won his first race by six furlongs.

At the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on August 26, out of the gate he was dead last. Secretariat trailed 8 horses into the far turn. Jockey Ron Turcotte swung him to the outside. Just passed the 1/2 mile pole he exploded, powering to the lead off the turn.
 He dashed from last to first in 290 yards.

The rest of Secretariat's two-year-old racing campaign was all wins except the Champagne Stakes at Belmont. HE was disqualified from 1st to 2nd after bumping Stop the Music at the top of the stretch. He became the 1st two-year-old voted 
HORSE OF THE YEAR!

Now three-years-old on March 10, 1973, Secretariat arrived at Belmont Park to begin his Triple Crown Campaign.

On March 17 at the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct, blocked by a wall of horses, Secretariat plunged through like a fullback (220 yards from the wire) and bounded off to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

Three weeks later Ron Turcotte sent the colt to the lead down the backstretch in the 1 mile Gotham Stakes.

The Woodward Memorial on April 21, 
was the last major prep race  before the Kentucky Derby

The race was a disaster. Ron Turcotte held the colt back early, but when he tried to get Secretariat to pick up the bit and run he got no response. He finished 3rd beaten four lengths by Angle Light and by Sham. Secretariat was suffering from a painful abscess about the size of a quarter. His trainer, Lucien Laurin decided to run the colt. 
He never told anyone about the abscess!

The racing world started to think he was like his father Bold Ruler - not good after a mile. Rumors started. He was unsound -  had a bum knee. Nobody knew about the painful abscess that hurt his race at the Woodward Memorial.

On May 5th, in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Secretariat looked hopelessly beaten. He was dead last as the 13 horses dashed past the finish line the first time. In the 1st turn Ron Turcotte swung him to the outside and Secretariat began passing horses. Down the backside he moved from 8th to 6th. He was 5th around the far turn and gaining fast on the outside. Sham was in front. Secretariat joined him at the top of the stretch. The two horses raced head and head for 100 yards. Gradually Secretariat pulled away. He won by 2 1/2 length's setting a new track and Derby record. He ran each 1/4 mile faster. 
Secretariat was now known as a superhorse.

On May 19th in the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat took the lead on the 1st turn and then blew the race wide open at the 1/4 mile pole, outrunning Sham and the four other horses by 2 1/2 lengths. He raced the distance in 1 minute 54 2/5ths seconds. 3rd fastest time at the track. The timer malfunctioned but witnesses also clocking the race say 
Secretariat also broke the record for this race.

On June 9th at the Belmont Stakes, it was the easiest race he ever ran and probably the greatest race any thoroughbred ever ran. Secretariat thundered down the mile and a half track in 2 minutes 24 seconds shattering the previous American record on a dirt course by 2 1/5 seconds. He finished 31 lengths in front. The race will always be remembered by jockey Ron Turcotte, looking over his left shoulder as they flew over the finish line and wondering what happened to all the other horses. Secretariat became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. The last winner was Citation in 1948. 
He was now the 9th Triple Crown winner.

Secretariat continued to win the rest of his three-year-old races except the Whitney Stakes and the Woodward Stakes. 
He finished second in both races.

He was Horse of the Year again in 1973.

After his final victory in Canada, he was retired to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. A syndication deal was cut when Secretariat was sent to stud. 32 shares were purchased for a record breaking sum over $6 million dollars.

His first crop of 28 foals, Secretariat produced two stake winners. The 1st was Dactylographer who won the Group l William Futurity in 1977. The second was Messina who won the Valdale Stakes at Latonia Race Course.

His stud career began good, but he was expected to reproduce himself. 
Even for Secretariat - that was impossible.

The best known offspring of his later foals included Risen Star. He was a winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. 
General Assembly set a new track record when he won the 
Canadian Stakes in 1979.
 Lady's Secret - his daughter, was Horse Of the Year in 1986. 
By the end of 1989 he had sired 41 stakes winners. 
His daughters produced over 40 stake class runners.

On September 4, 1989 Secretariat contacted laminitis. Laminitis affects the horses hoof. Tests confirmed laminitis was present in all four of Secretariat's hoofs. He was in extreme pain. To end his suffering he was humanly destroyed at 11:45 A.M. on October 4, 1989 at Claiborne Farm. He is buried at the Clairborne Horse Cemetery
near his father Bold Ruler.

His death was reported on the national news. It was fitting for the passing of a legend,
one whose accomplishments might never be equaled.

Secretariat was 19 years old, which is a long time for a horse but
 not long enough for a legend.

The two-time Horse Of the Year left behind a racing record consisting of speed, stamina, durability and versatility.

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS SECRETARIAT
BUT ONLY ONCE!

Editors Note:
 I believe this is the best and most complete biography I have ever read on this great horse. Thank you so much for sharing your speech that even more may enjoy the moment.

Alicia lives in New York and is a member of the 
Broome County 4-H Club
She is 14 years-old and a freshman in high school.