Secretariat is the best-known racehorse in history. The 1973 Triple Crown winner, which was owned by Penny Chenery, still holds unbroken records for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
The horse, also known as Big Red, won most of the races he ran with a landslide victory that led to the Triple Crown.
Secretariat was born at Meadow Farm in Virginia in March 1970. When he was 2 years old, he began his career as a pilot. His first race was on July 4, 1972 at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City. Big Red got off to a rough start after getting hit early in the race. He finished in fourth place.
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Although his racing career didn’t start with a win, there would be plenty to come for Big Red.
The horse’s second race was Secretariat’s first victory. The next race was on July 31, where he won again. This race was won with Ron Turcotte on his back, the man who would become Secretariat’s leading jockey.
During the 1972 season, he won seven of the nine races in which he competed. He was also named Horse of the Year. This was a great title for Secretariat, especially considering how young he was at the time.
In 1973, Secretariat started the racing season on a high, winning his first race at Aqueduct Race Course and his second in the Gotham Stakes.
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The third race of the year, the race that happened just before the Kentucky Derby, was a bit of a problem for the horse and he finished third. Secretariat also suffered from a painful abscess in the upper part of his mouth before the race.
Secretariat took first place in the Kentucky Derby in 1973 with a time of less than two minutes, a feat only one other horse has accomplished since. Secretariat won the Derby with a time of 1:59, a record yet to be broken.
Two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, he won again with a time of 1:53, another record that still stands.
Much anticipation built up as Secretariat was set to compete in the final race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.
the Belmont Stakes, also known as the «Trial of the Champion» is the longest of the Triple Crown races, with a distance of 1 ½ miles or 12 furlongs.
On June 9, 1973, the heavily favored Secretariat faced four other horses on the track, including the horse Sham, who finished second in the other two Triple Crown races, according to the Belmont Stakes website. .
During the Belmont Stakes the horse swept the competition, winning by an exceptional 31 lengths. The Secretariat became the first Triple Crown Winner since 1948, when Citation won the title.
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In October 1989, Secretariat was euthanized due to an incurable hoof condition called laminitis, but would go on to be remembered as possibly the greatest racehorse ever.
Throughout his life, Secretariat ran with his heart…literally. After he was euthanized, a necropsy was performed by Dr. Thomas Swerczek, who discovered that Secretariat’s heart was larger than any he had seen.
An average heart weighs about nine pounds, according to the doctor, but Secretariat’s was nearly twice that size. Many believe this led to his many victories throughout his career.
Before his death, Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and a statue was built in his honor in Belmont Park. He is still frequently talked about today, especially during the Triple Crown racing season.
In 2010, the movie «Secretariat» was released and starred some big names including Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Kevin Connelly. In addition, several books have been written about the horse. In 2019, a statue of Secretariat was built in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Secretariat set records that still stand today. Although other horses have been compared to Secretariat, none have beaten the times set by the notable racehorse.