Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to Secretariat

Yesterday's lackluster Derby field made me think a lot of Secretariat (and Sham), who is the standard by which all other Triple Crown contenders are judged.

There are only three horses who ran the Derby in under two minutes and two of them were in the same race, Secretariat and Sham.  Poor Sham, who raced second to Secretariat in the Derby and the Preakness and then broke down in the Belmont, would have likely won the Triple Crown in any other year.  Monarchos is the other, a lovely gray who won in 2001.

He was born on March 29, 1970 in Doswell, VA (just north of Richmond) and died in Paris, KY in October 1989.  His grave can be viewed at Claiborn Farm. 

Secretariat did not go on to be a great Grade III Stakes sire like many had hoped but he became a very good broodmare sire, and if you follow that lineage, he was quite successful.  If you have not seen the movie by all means see it and a recent book, written by the owner's daughter, is fabulous:

The Meadow is the name of the farm on which Secetariat was foaled.  Just north of Richmond (in Doswell), the farm has been chopped up and sold and the lovely white manor house is gone but Secretariat's foaling shed has been saved.  A museum is also in the works on the site.

This is my favorite photo, Ron Turcotte looking back behind him as he wins the Belmont by an amazing 31 lengths.

All racing fans would love to see another "Secretariat" but I don't think we ever will.  He was a freak of nature, just too good to ever be duplicated.  I still get shivers down my spine recalling watching those races on television so long ago.  He's the one.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, indeed. The One and ONLY and my hero!

    I would imagine, living in VA, you might have had the opportunity to meet some of Big Red's connections? I have met most of them (Penny Chenery, Kate Tweedy, Ron Turcotte, Jimmy Gaffney and Charlie Davis) and a more gracious and lovely group you could not find. When my autographed copy of "Secretariat's Meadow" was lost by the folks selling them for charity, Kate was kind enough to mail me one from her own stock at home.

    "A Look Back" is one of my favorites, too. I also love a Tony Leonard photo of Red running in his Claiborne paddock that I had Penny autograph.

    I hope what is left of the Meadow, and the foaling shed, will finally be properly preserved.


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