Few animals can capture the attention of Americans quite like a Thoroughbred horse. Horse racing puts these majestic creatures on a national stage as spectators from all over cheer on their favorite picks. One of the most beloved Thoroughbred horses in American racing history is Secretariat. Secretariat, sired by Bold Ruler out of Somethingroyal, was foaled on March 29, 1970, at the Meadow Stud in Doswell, Virginia. The foal was won by Penney (Chenery) Tweedy in a coin toss for Bold Ruler’s stud fee and he was trained by Canadian Lucien Laurin and mainly ridden by fellow Canadian jockey Ron Turcotte, along with apprentice jockey Paul Feliciano (first two races), and veteran Eddie Maple (last race). Secretariat would go on to race for Tweedy’s Meadow Stud and stood approximately 16 hands 2 inches tall, and weighed 1,175 pounds in his racing prime.
Though he was a very accomplished horse, he didn’t even win his first race! He finished fourth in six furlongs at the Aqueduct in New York. Nearly two weeks later, he would win his second race at that very track and would go on to win his next seven. At three years old, in 1973, he was named Horse of the Year. He lost the race just before the Kentucky Derby, but that didn’t stop bettors from giving him 3-2 odds over Sham. On May 5, 1973, Secretariat won the ninety-ninth Kentucky Derby in 1:59 2/5, setting the current derby record for the distance of 1 1/4-miles. Two weeks later he won the Preakness, and on June 9, 1973, he won the third race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont, by thirty-one lengths, setting a world record of 2:24 for a mile and a half — a record that stands today. Secretariat became the first Triple Crown winner since Citation had won all three races twenty-five years prior.
Secretariat was retired in 1974. He went on to sire over three hundred sons and daughters and his blood flows through many notable race winners, such as 2004 Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. In 1989, he developed a very painful hoof condition and the decision was made on October 4 to euthanize him. He was buried at Claiborne Farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky and was mourned by millions there. His legacy continues with celebrations in Bourbon County and the filming of a new Disney film entitled Secretariat.