Secretariat: Horse Racing Greats
Photos, History, and Links

Secretariat Horse Photo Picture

Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown winner in history,
and the first in 25 years.

A Quick Glossary Of Race Horse Betting Terms:

Race Horse Betting to finish in first place.

Place Bet
Race Horse Betting to finish first or second.

Race Horse Betting to get third place.

Race Horse Betting the first three finishers in exact order. Called a 'Triactor' in Canada and a 'Triple' in some parts of the U.S. ('Tricast' in the UK.)

Trifecta Box
A trifecta wager in which all-possible combinations using a given number of race horses are bet upon. The total number of combinations can be calculated according to the formula (x3)-(3x2)+(2x), where x equals the amount of race horses in the box. The sum of the formula is then multiplied by the amount wagered on each combination.

Exacta (Also, Perfecta)
Race Horse Betting that picks the first two finishers in a race in the exact order of finish. (Straight Forecast in the UK.)

Exacta Box
Race Horse Betting in which all-possible combinations using a given number of race horses is covered.

Race Horse Betting that picks the first four finishers in a race in the exact order of finish.

Daily Double
Type of Race Horse Betting calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.

Pick 3 (P3)
Type of Race Horse Betting calling for the selection of winners of three consecutive races.

Pick 4 (P4)
Type of Race Horse Betting calling for the selection of winners of four consecutive races.

Secretariat Triple Crown winner


Secretariat was conceived in Kentucky and born in Virginia. When turned out to graze with the other foals and dams, Secretariat was seen to be more independent and masterful than the others. Secretariat didn't cling to his mother like newborns usually do. Owner, Penny Tweedy, recognized almost immediately that this was an intelligent, confident, and curious individual. Secretariat was going to be a "take-charge" kind of horse someday.

Some of the first names submitted to the Jockey Club for this colt were "Sceptre", "Royal Line", "Something Special", "Games of Chance", and "Deo Volente" (which is Latin for "God Willing"). But none of these names were available. Finally, the sixth name submitted was accepted. And that is how we came to know him as Secretariat.

Trainer, Lucien Laurin, started the colt in a 5 1/2 furlong purse at Aqueduct on the fourth of July. His odds that day were 3-to-1 (the highest odds you would ever receive on Secretariat). The poor chestnut colt got mugged coming out of the gate, and suffered terrible interference. What a surprising introduction this was to his new career! Sec finished in fourth that day - the only time he would ever finish off the board. From this rough treatment, he learned to break slowly from the gate to avoid trouble. Secretariat was indeed a quick learner.The remainder of his two-year-old season was an exhibition of consistency. Sec put together a string of eight consecutive first place finishes, including the best juvenile events in this country. The only black marks against an otherwise perfect season were the aforementioned debut race, and the Champagne Stakes at Belmont, which was taken away from him on a disqualification and awarded to Stop The Music.

By year-end, it was virtually unanimous that Secretariat was the most exciting horse in training (of any age), so at the age of two, he was crowned Horse Of The Year.Sec, in a deal arranged by Claiborne Farm, was syndicated into shares and therefore the future breeding rights to him were purchased. The deal was worth a record $6,080,000 and stipulated the condition that the colt would only race though his three-year-old season.

At three, Secretariat debuted in the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct at the shrunken odds of 1-to-5, so great was the public's faith in him, although he hadn't raced in four months. No worries - He won easily by 4 1/2 lengths. This was followed by a three-length victory in the Gotham Stakes. Here was, at this point, a virtually unstoppable superstar. He had only one more prep planned before the Triple Crown and that was the Wood Memorial. "Superman" failed that day. The victory went to stablemate Angle Light, with Sham second. Secretariat's third place performance was disappointing to most, and unbelievable to others. Had someone placed Kryptonite in his saddlepads?

No - he was merely the victim of a slow pace, and simply could not reach the other two in time. Secretariat knew he had lost, and that angered him, according to his owner. Miss Tweedy also remarked that the loss was like a release valve - it took a great deal of pressure off the colt going into the Triple Crown. It showed the world that Secretariat was real, which made his outstanding victories all the more phenomenal.The public was convinced the Wood had been an aberration. Secretariat and Angle Light were the bettors' choice in the Derby at 3-to-2, although Sham was getting very good support as second choice at 5-to-2 odds. Shecky Greene assumed the early lead with Gold Bag, Royal And Regal, Angle Light and Sham in closest pursuit. Where was the $6 million dollar colt? Dead last. Secretariat relaxed nicely from the gate, and settled in at the rear, allowing the others to show the way. Making his way into the first turn Secretariat moved to the outside and began picking off the competition one by one.Sec charged up the backstretch with his sights set on the leader who was by this time - Sham. That one drew clear of his rivals rounding the final turn, but Secretariat was looming on the outside. Sham led the way into the stretch but quickly Sec was upon him. For a few strides they ran together. Clearly the winner would be one of these two, as the others were hopelessly outpaced. Jockey Ron Turcotte showed the whip to his mount just once, and the chestnut colt responded, drawing away from his pursuers. At the wire, he had won by 2 1/2 lengths over Sham, setting a new track record. Sham's race was also a marvelous one. His finishing time also bettered the previous race record. Our Native was 8 lengths further away in third place.

In the Preakness, Secretariat again began in last place, but was close to the rear of the pack, not far back. Sec passed the grandstand the first time still trailing. Then, far before Turcotte planned to urge him forward, Secretariat made up his own mind that the time had come to take the lead. He lunged forward with a mighty leap and burst past the others. He soared up the outside of the pack and assumed the lead before they had even gone a half mile. The remainder of the race was simply for the others to determine who would finish second behind Secretariat. Sham was once again the best of the rest, finishing (again) 2 1/2 lengths behind Secretariat, with Our Native (again) eight lengths further back in third place. The finishing time on the track's teletimer was 1:55, a full second off the track record, but Daily Racing Form clockers all recorded a time of 1:53 2/5, which shattered the old record. The matter of the official time of this race is still in deliberations.

For the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat emerged from an inside post position in a field of only 5 runners. The break was clean and My Gallant got out the quickest with Sham up on the outside, and Secretariat at the rail. Seeing no one to block his path and interfere with him, Secretariat went right for the lead. He assumed command almost immediately after the start, and Sham went right up with him to pressure him. The two raced together around the first turn, then Secretariat drew away, and continued drawing away. By the mid-backstretch his lead was 10 lengths. By the far turn it was 12 lengths. Secretariat turned into the homestretch at least 20 lengths ahead of the others.Chick Anderson, who called the race that day, spoke the now immortal words "...but Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine... he's a sixteenth of a mile ahead of the other horses!" And he continued to widen the margin. 22 lengths. 25 lengths. 28 lengths. At the wire, the official margin was an unbelieveable 31 lengths. Twice a Prince was far, far back in second place. There was no doubt about this finishing time - 2:24 flat - a new world record; Secretariat Triple Crown Winner.

Secretariat Triple Crown Winner

"Big Red" went next to the Arlington International where his odds were drummed down to microscopic proportions, 1-to-20. He won that race by 9 lengths. The he ran in the Whitney Stakes, carrying a low-grade fever, and lost to Onion, but only by a length. In the Marlboro Invitational, he spearheaded a Meadow Stable exacta, leading Riva Ridge to the line. His last start on the dirt came in the sloppy Woodward Stakes, and there he finished second to Prove Out.

His last two outings both came on the turf. Lucien Laurin convinced Penny Tweedy that "Big Red" could be even better on grass than he had been on the dirt. Perhaps the trainer was right - his turf debut in the Man o'War Stakes resulted in a new course record at Belmont Park. For his final race, Sec would get the services of jockey Eddie Maple. Turcotte was serving a suspension and was not allowed to ride for a certain number of days. The swansong came in the Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine, Ontario. The weather was miserable, foggy, wet and cold. But "Big Red" let no one down. He powered around the course like a locomotive with steam blowing from his nostrils. He was an easy 6 1/2 length winner. This victory brought his earnings to a then record of $1,316,808.A few weeks later, he was paraded under tack at Aqueduct, site of his first race, before a crowd of admirers who longed for one more glimpse of him carrying the famous Meadow silks. The crowd of 6,000 was the largest ever to gather at Aqueduct on a non-racing day.Secretariat was retired to Claiborne Farm where he sired Horse Of The Year LADY'S SECRET and champions MEDAILLE D'OR and RISEN STAR.


Secretariat died at age 19, relatively young for a thoroughbred. He had been suffering from an incurable foot disease called laminitis, which made it painful for him to walk or even stand. When his suffering became too great, the heart-wrenching decision was made to end his life peacefully. Secretariat was given the honor of being buried whole in the Claiborne cemetery. It is traditional for horses to be buried "head, heart, and hooves", but certain special horses deserve special treatment. Visitors still flock to Claiborne Farm, bearing flowers and gifts for their hero.

Triple Crown won by Secretariat in 1973

The Triple Crown won by Secretariat in 1973

The Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs bettors made the entry of Secretariat and Angle Light the 3–2 favorite in the 1973 Kentucky Derby. (Sham was next at 5–2.) Secretariat broke last, but gradually moved up on

the field in the backstretch, then overtook Sham at the top of the stretch, pulling away to win the Derby by 21⁄2 lengths. Our Native finished eight lengths further back in third.

On his way to a still-standing track record (1:592⁄5), Secretariat ran each quarter-mile segment faster than the one before it. The successive quarter-mile times were 251⁄5, 24, 234⁄5,

232⁄5, and 23. This means he was still accelerating as of the final quarter-mile of the race. No other horse had won the Derby in less than 2 minutes until Monarchos in 2001.

A Sportswriter's Account of Secretariat's Derby Race

Sportswriter Mike Sullivan said, in admiration:
"I was at Secretariat's Derby, in '73. . . That was...just beauty, you know? He started in last place, which he tended to do. I was covering the second-place horse, which wound up being

Sham. It looked like Sham's race going into the last turn, I think. The thing you have to understand is that Sham was fast, a beautiful horse. He would have had the Triple Crown in another

year. And it just didn't seem like there could be anything faster than that. Everybody was watching him. It was over, more or less. And all of a sudden there was this, like, just a

disruption in the corner of your eye, in your peripheral vision. And then before you could make out what it was, here Secretariat came. And then Secretariat had passed him. No one had ever

seen anything run like that - a lot of the old guys said the same thing. It was like he was some other animal out there.

The Preakness Stakes

In the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat broke last, but then made a huge, last-to-first move on the first turn. After reaching the lead with 51⁄2 furlongs to go, he was never challenged, and

won by 2½ lengths, again with Sham finishing second and Our Native third.

The time of the race was controversial. The infield teletimer displayed a time of 1:55. The track's electronic timer had malfunctioned because of damage caused by members of the crowd

crossing the track to reach the infield. The Pimlico Race Course clocker, E.T. McLean Jr., announced a hand time of 1:542⁄5. However, two Daily Racing Form clockers claimed the time was

1:532⁄5, which would have broken the track record (1:54 by Cañonero II). Tapes of Secretariat and Cañonero II were played side by side by CBS, and Secretariat got to the finish line first

on tape, though this is not a reliable method of timing a horse race at the time. The Maryland Jockey Club, which managed the Pimlico racetrack and is responsible for maintaining Preakness

records, discarded both the electronic and Daily Racing Form times and recognized 1:542⁄5 as the official time. However, Daily Racing Form, for the first time in history, printed its own

clocking of 1:532⁄5 next to the official time in the chart of the race.

On June 19, 2012, a special meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission was convened at Laurel Park at the request of Penny Chenery, who hired companies to conduct a forensic review of the

videotapes of the race. After over two hours of testimony, the commission unanimously voted to change the time of Secretariat's win from 1:542⁄5 to 1:53, establishing a new stakes record.

The Daily Racing Form then announced that it would honor the commission's ruling with regard to the running time.[3] The current track record for the 1 3/16 mile distance remains 1:522⁄5,

set by Farma Way in the 1991 Pimlico Special.

As Secretariat prepared for the Belmont Stakes, he appeared on the covers of three national magazines: Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. He had become a national celebrity.

The Belmont Stakes

Only four horses competed against Secretariat for the June 9, 1973, running of the Belmont Stakes, including Sham, who had finished second in both the Derby and Preakness, along with three

other horses thought to have little chance by the bettors: Twice a Prince, My Gallant, and Private Smiles. With so few horses in the race, and with Secretariat expected to win, no "show"

bets were taken. Secretariat was sent off as a 1–10 favorite to win as a $2.20 payout on a $2 ticket and paid at 20 cents more – $2.40 – to place. Before a crowd of 67,605, Secretariat and

Sham set a fast early pace, opening ten lengths on the rest of the field. After the six-furlong mark, Sham began to tire, ultimately finishing last. Secretariat continued the fast pace and

opened up a larger and larger margin on the field. CBS Television announcer Chic Anderson's described the horse's pace in a famous commentary: "Secretariat is widening now! He is moving

like a tremendous machine!"

In the stretch, Secretariat opened a 1/16 mile lead on the rest of the field. At the finish, he won by 31 lengths (breaking the margin-of-victory record set by Triple Crown winner Count

Fleet in 1943, who won by 25 lengths), and ran the fastest 1½ miles on dirt in history, 2:24 flat, which broke the stakes record by more than two seconds. This works out to a speed of 37.5

mph for his entire performance. Secretariat's record still stands; no other horse has ever broken 2:25 for 1½ miles on dirt. If the Beyer Speed Figure calculation had been developed during

that time, Andrew Beyer calculated that Secretariat would have earned a figure of 139, the highest he has ever assigned. Bettors holding 5,617 winning parimutuel tickets on Secretariat

never redeemed them, presumably keeping them as souvenirs (and because they paid only $2.20 on a $2 bet).

Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown winner in history, and the first in 25 years.

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