Thoroughbred racing has seen some beautiful and powerful steeds. Eleven have won the prestigious Triple Crown. Memorable names such as Gallant Fox, Whirlaway, and Citation. But the greatest horse ever to step onto the track was – Secretariat.
He was a Virginia horse, born at Meadow Farm in Caroline County. His mama was Somethingroyal, and his pa was Bold Ruler. He was chestnut in color, grew to a svelte 1,175 pounds at maturity, and earned the nickname “Big Red.”
Secretariat lost his first-ever race, and didn’t like the feeling. So he reeled of five consecutive wins to feel better about himself. He was named American Horse of the Year as a two-year-old, a feat only accomplished by one horse in the 37 years since.
Then came his Triple Crown season. He actually finished third in the Wood Derby, a major tune-up for the Kentucky Derby. Then came his first appearance on the big stage, and Secretariat made the most of it. All he did was set the track record time in the mile and a quarter, a record that has never been broken. He also ran each quarter mile faster than the one before it – he was still accelerating when the race ended. A few weeks later at the Preakness, Big Red moved from the back to the front of the pack in a quick move and never relinquished the lead.
Then came the Belmont Stakes, and the chance to win the first Triple Crown since the great Citation in 1948. With all that pressure, what did Secretariat do? He just ran the most amazing race in Triple Crown history, winning by an unbelievable 31 lengths and setting a new world record time.
ESPN Classic named that Belmont run as the second most amazing performance in sports history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Americans love fast horses, so it’s no wonder that even now, Secretariat is revered as no horse has been before or since.