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The majesty of Secretariat
The heart of a champion
There is no sport as beautiful as that of horse racing. I have always admired the strength, speed, beauty and majesty of a race horse and the horse that stands out from the pack and brings me back to my childhood and introduced me to the wonderful sport of thoroughbred racing was Secretariat. I was 12 years old when I saw the Kentucky Derby for the first time and I remember watching the race in the living room on our tv with my mom and cheering for my favorite horse. I remember there being something very special about Secretariat and I was a fan of the stallion as soon as he started making news and becoming very popular.
As a kid the thing I remember most about horse racing was the excitement leading up to the race and then the start at the gate. There is something truly amazing when you see the start of a race and the charge of all those horses in pursuit of the finish line. The sheer determination of both the horse and the jockey working in tandem in the race is what separates the leaders from the pack. There is so much beauty in watching a horse run and when you see a close race it is breathtaking. When I first heard of Secretariat I was new to learning about the major achievement of thoroughbred horse racing which is the triple crown which is what every horse owner dreams of winning. It is an incredible achievement since in the history of horse racing in the United States it has been done only 11 times with the very first winner, Sir Barton doing it back in 1919.
Secretariat was foaled on March 30, 1970 to Somethingroyal and his association to owner Penny Chenery Tweedy was decided in a coin toss in 1969 against Ogden Phipps in which she lost but really won since she was awarded the unborn foal she eventually would call Red for the beautiful chestnut red color. Her secretary Elizabeth Ham after choosing several names finally was approved with the race name Secretariat. Penny Chenery Tweedy's dad, Christopher Chenery was the one who started it all as he was very accomplished having served in the war with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in WW I and was a successful engineer for many years establishing his own businesses. He eventually went on to purchase Meadow Farms in his home state of Virginia and establish it as a ranch for breeding thoroughbred racehorses. He was one of the founding members of the New York Racing Association and was the breeder/owner responsible for the famed thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat.
Secretariat was trained from the very start to be a winner and it was his natural beauty and grace that made him a standout from the very beginning. Penny Chenery Tweedy knew that right away when she saw the birth of the future Triple Crown winner. She had a dream and she instinctively knew that their association together would be what dreams are made of. The beauty of this story is the incredible odds that stood in her way and yet she stood behind her horse and fought the establishment for the right to be heard and to prove that she now owned the fastest and most striking horse of the day.
She was the driving force in Secretariat's success with her winning team she orchestrated with the players being herself at the helm, her secretary, Elizabeth Ham who was responsible for naming him and booking the engagements; the trainer, Lucien Lauren; the jockey, Ron Turcotte; the groom, Eddie Sweat and of course the main attraction, Secretariat, the Thoroughbred Triple crown winner of 1973.
Secretariat was the horse of the year in 1972 and 1973 and proved he was a champion in 1973 when he captured the heart of America in his bid and eventual win of the prestigious Triple crown having raced in all three races, The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes and winning all three decisively with the grand finale at Belmont where he won with no other horse in sight with the second place winner finishing 31 lengths behind. It was a record that today still stands. In it's grand history only 11 racehorses have won the Triple crown in USA thoroughbred racing. Only 2 racehorses have done it since Secretariat in 1973 which were Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978.
After his amazing run Secretariat was cared for on the farm and sired some prestigious horses and was treated with respect and dignity and loved until his dying day which was October 4, 1989 when he suffered from laminitis which was a painful condition affecting the hooves. Secretariat was inducted into several hall of fame's for his distinguished record and his heart. He was also included on ESPN's top 100 athlete's greatest sports performances of all time list being the one and only non human entry for his amazing performance at Belmont in winning the Triple crown in 1973.
Secretariat is also commemorated in a newly released movie by Walt Disney which chronicles the story of the greatest racehorse in the history of horse racing simply titled Secretariat which is truly wonderful and tells the incredible story of the horse and the owner who loved him and made him into a champion against all odds. It is so good it will bring tears to your eyes.
Edward D. Iannielli III
Secretariat Part 1
Secretariat Part 2
- Secretariat Thoroughbred racing legend. Penny Tweedy Chenery\'s dream come to life. Kentucky Derby,
Secretariat a racing legend that won the Triple Crown. Winner of the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. America's hero and racing legend.