SECRETARIAT (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His record-breaking win in the Belmont Stakes, where he left the field 31 lengths behind him, is widely regarded as one of the greatest races of all time.

During his racing career, the chestnut by Bold Ruler from Somethingroyal  (Princequillo)  won five Eclipse Awards, including Horse of the Year honours at ages two and three. He was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974. In the List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Secretariat is second only to Man o’ War (racing career 1919–1920), who also was a large chestnut colt given the nickname “Big Red”.

At age two, Secretariat finished fourth in his 1972 Maiden, but then won seven of his remaining eight starts, including five stakes victories. He received the Eclipse Award for champion two-year-old colt, and also was the 1972 Horse of the Year, a rare honour for a horse so young. At age three, Secretariat not only won the Triple Crown, he set speed records in all three races. His time in the Kentucky Derby still stands as the Churchill Downs track record for  2000m, and his time in the Belmont Stakes stands as the American record for  2400m on the dirt. His controversial time in the Preakness Stakes was eventually recognized as a stakes record in 2012.

Secretariat with Penny Chenery (Saratoga.com).
Secretariat with Penny Chenery (Saratoga.com).

At the beginning of his three-year-old year, Secretariat was syndicated for a record-breaking $6.08 million on condition that he be retired from racing by the end of the year. Although he sired several successful racehorses, he ultimately was most influential through his daughters’ offspring, becoming the leading broodmare sire in North America in 1992. Secretariat died in 1989 due to laminitis. His daughters produced several notable sires, including Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Gone West, Dehere and Chief’s Crown, and through them Secretariat appears in the pedigree of many modern champions. He continues to be recognized as one of the greatest horses in American racing history.

In January 1973, Christopher Chenery, the founder of Meadow Stables, who’d bred Secretariat, died and the taxes on his estate forced his daughter Penny to consider selling Secretariat. Together with Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm, she instead managed to syndicate the horse, selling 32 shares worth $190,000 each for a total of $6.08 million, a world syndication record at the time, surpassing the previous record for Nijinsky who was syndicated for $5.44 million in 1970.

Hancock said the sale was easy, citing Secretariat’s two-year-old performance, breeding, and appearance. “He’s, well, he’s a hell of a horse.” Chenery retained four shares in the horse and would have complete control over his three-year-old racing campaign, but agreed that he would be retired at the end of the year.

Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974, the year following his Triple Crown victory.

Due to Secretariat’s enduring popularity, Chenery remained a prominent figure in racing and a powerful advocate for Thoroughbred aftercare and veterinary research until her death in September 2017. – Wikipedia/Bloodhorse.

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