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Secretariat was a legendary thoroughbred racehorse whose name reigns supreme in the history of racing. The stallion with a chestnut coat, three white “socks” and cocky demeanor not only became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown in 1973, he did it in a way that left spectators breathless.
Secretariat’s 1973 performance in the third Triple Crown race at Belmont Stakes, where he bested his closest competitor by a mind-blowing 31 lengths, is widely considered one of the most stunning horse races of all time.
Called the “Clark Gable of horses” by Vogue, Secretariat consistently blew away the competition: His times in all three Triple Crown races remain the fastest in history.
“Big Red,” as he was known, was a horse that seemed aware of his greatness and reveled in it. Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, told author Lawrence Scanlon that Secretariat, “next to having my children, was the most remarkable event in my life.”
A ‘Strong-Made’ Foal
Secretariat was born to a Virginia stable that had been nearly sold when the owner, Chris Chenery, became ill. Chenery’s daughter Penny, however, resisted her siblings’ urging to sell the financially struggling Meadow Farm and instead took charge and guided it back to profitability.
In 1969, Penny Chenery decided to breed the stable’s mare, Somethingroyal, to stud Bold Ruler, and the pair’s second breeding resulted in Secretariat.
Born at 12:10 am, March 30, 1970, the foal who became Secretariat first appeared chunky to stud manager Howard Gentry. As Gentry reported, the young horse was a “Big, strong-made foal with plenty of bone.”
When Eddie Sweat, who became Secretariat’s long-time, dedicated groom, first met the horse, he was also reportedly unimpressed.
Sweat told Canadian Horseman in 1973, “I didn’t think much of him when we first got him. I thought he was just a big clown. He was real clumsy and a bit on the wild side, you know. And I remember saying to myself I didn’t think he was going to be an outstanding horse.”
A Rough Start
But by age two, the young Secretariat had found his legs and, under trainer Lucien Laurin, began to show the world what a powerhouse he was. He stood tall at approximately 16.2 hands (66 inches) tall, and weighed 1,175 pounds with a 75-inch girth.
At his first race on July 4, 1972, at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City, Big Red got bumped hard at the start, throwing off his race. He finished fourth, but made an impressive surge in the final stretch moving up from 10th place to fourth.
In his second race, 11 days later, Secretariat again poured on the speed during the final stretch and won by six lengths. By his third race on July 31, he was already a crowd favorite and easily won, this time with Ron Turcotte who from then on became Secretariat’s main jockey.
By the end of his 1972 season, Big Red had won seven of nine races and was named the Horse of the Year, becoming the second two-year-old to ever capture that honor.
Secretariat at Age Three
The following year, 1973, would prove to be pivotal for both the legacy of Secretariat and Meadow Farm. Penny Chenery’s father, Chris, died in January and Penny was hit with a daunting tax bill.
To keep the stable operating, Penny Chenery managed to syndicate Secretariat, selling 32 shares of the horse for a record $6.08 million. In his 1973 debut at Aqueduct Racetrack, Secretariat, who had grown even stronger over the winter, proved he was worth every cent.
He slogged through wet conditions and a packed field to win by four and a half lengths. In his next race at Gotham Stakes, Secretariat again surged ahead of the pack to win.
If Secretariat ever did disappoint, it was in his next race at Wood Memorial Stakes. Before the race, an abscess had been discovered on the top of his mouth, likely caused by a burr in his hay. Groomer, Eddie Sweat, would tell The Thoroughbred Record six years later that the abscess “bothered” the horse “a lot.”
Big Red ended up third in that race, a shocking four lengths behind the winner, Angle Light. In the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, the loss dented the armor of a horse that had once been considered a sure-thing.
Kentucky Derby Victory
Following the Wood Memorial race, Secretariat’s team lanced the abscess and it healed. By race day at the 1973 Kentucky Derby two weeks later, Secretariat was once again ready to dominate – and dominate he did.
Although he broke last out of the gate, Secretariat accelerated his pace at every quarter-mile of the race and finished with a course record that still stands of 1:59 2/5th.
In the decades since, only one other horse, Monarchos, has finished in under 2 minutes at the Derby. Two weeks later at the Preakness, Secretariat again came from behind to win the race. His final time was disputed, due to two separate timings, until a 2012 forensic review revealed it was 1:53 flat, which remains an unbroken course record.
By his Preakness win, Secretariat had become an international media star. Big Red appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.
In a time when the grim news of the Watergate scandal and Vietnam War protests had dominated headlines, word of a stunning horse captivated the public’s attention.
Writer George Plimpton described Secretariat as “the only honest thing in the country at the time…Where the public so often looks for the metaphor of simple, uncomplicated excellence, the big red horse has come along and provided it.”
Secretariat Takes the Triple Crown
On June 9, 1973, the final race day of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, the American public was humming with excitement for the race that could determine the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Secretariat, for his part, was ready to deliver.
Unlike in his previous races, this time Secretariat did not start from behind. Instead, he bolted from the gate and secured good placement along the inside lane. His long-time rival, Sham, gave him some competition at the start, but by the half-mile mark, Secretariat pulled away. And he just kept accelerating.
“Down the backstretch, with a half-mile to go, Secretariat was clearly giving me a rocket ride,” Turcotte recalled in 1993. “I never experienced anything like it. Faster, faster, faster. Enemy hoofbeats soon disappeared; too far behind us on the track for me to hear. What a race. What a memory.”
By the time Secretariat and Turcotte rounded the final corner they were all alone. The announcer, Chic Anderson, narrated to spectators, “He’s moving like a tre-mend-ous machine…”
Secretariat crushed the competition – first by 10 lengths, then 20, and eventually a gob-stopping 31 lengths – to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1948. A famous Sports Illustrated photo shows Turcotte looking back during the final leg of the race to see the long empty stretch that Secretariat had opened between him and his nearest rivals.
Penny Chenery would say about Secretariat in the Belmont race, “Why did he keep on running when he’d passed everybody by almost an eighth of a mile? My gut feeling is that it was his home track and he was ready for that race. I just think he got out there and put away Sham early and just felt ‘Okay, I feel good, I’m just going to show them how I can run.’”
‘Only One Secretariat’
In the decades since Secretariat completed the Triple Crown, his record times remain unsurpassed in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
In 1974, Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was the only non-human included among ESPN’s 50 greatest athletes of the century and he became the first thoroughbred to be honored with his own U.S. Postal stamp. Outside the paddock at Belmont Park now stands a statue of Secretariat with both his front feet in the air.
Before the Triple Crown races, Secretariat’s breeding rights had been sold by Chenery for $6 million. Part of the agreement was that the thoroughbred would retire from racing after his third year.
After his Triple Crown victory, and a “Farewell to Secretariat” Day at Belmont to a crowd of 32,900, the chestnut horse was flown to Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Here, he would sire 582 offspring, including 41 stakes winners. But none of his offspring ever compared to the original.
“A lot of misinformed people thought he could reproduce himself,” Claiborne manager John Sosby told People magazine in 1988. “But it just doesn’t work that way. There’s only one Secretariat.”
Indeed, when the great horse was put down in October 1989, after being diagnosed with a painful, incurable hoof condition known as laminitis, medical examiners discovered something incredible.
Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinarian who performed the necropsy, reported that he found that Secretariat’s heart, weighing between 21 and 22 pounds, was the largest he had ever seen in a horse.
“We were all shocked,” Swerczek told Sports Illustrated in 1990. “I’ve seen and done thousands of autopsies on horses, and nothing I’d ever seen compared to it.” The main motor of Secretariat, that “tremendous machine,” was approximately twice the normal size.
Secretariat by William Nack, published by Hyperion Books, 1975.
The Horse GodBuilt by Lawrence Scanlon, published by Thomas Dune Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2007.
“Penny Chenery, Owner of the Triple Crown Winner Secretariat, Dies at 95,” by Richard Goldstein, September 17, 2017, New York Times.
“Secretariat’s Jockey on Winning the Triple Crown at Belmont, 40 Years Ago,” by Andrew Cohen, June 7, 2013, The Atlantic.
“Pure Heart,” by William Nack, June 4, 1990, Sports Illustrated.
“After 15 Years of Foaling Around, Superhorse Secretariat Fathers a Big Winner, Risen Star,” by Susan Toepfer and Bill Shaw, June 13, 1988, People.
“Secretariat Demolished Belmont Field,” by Larry Schwartz, June 9, 1973, ESPN.
“This Year’s Belmont Pale Comparison to Secretariat’s,” by Hubert Mizell, June 6, 1993, St. Petersburg Times.
Secretariat, Claiborne Farms Hall of Fame.
The Story of Secretariat
There are a lot of famous racehorses that have become legends throughout history. Some are known as old war veterans that took to the circuit, while others performed so well on the track that they are yet to be outshone. Of the many horses that have come and gone throughout the years, few have gained the reputation of one particular Thoroughbred: Secretariat.
Secretariat was a North American horse that shot to fame in the early 1970s. He was a born racer, having come from some of the finest purebred stock available in the United States, and spent a number of years creating a number of new records.
Secretariat has become such a well-known household name that he’s been featured in just about every type of media available. From film, games, and even something more obscure like online Roulette, the Thoroughbred will always remain a name to be remembered.
Where Have You Gone, Secretariat?
Jockey Ron Turcotte walks Secretariat towards the winners circle after they captured the Triple Crown in 1973.
In the wake of American Pharoah&rsquos stunning wire-to-wire Triple Crown-clinching victory at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, I compared him to Secretariat, finding that &mdash despite having one of the finest Triple Crown campaigns ever &mdash American Pharoah still likely would have finished the Belmont well behind his great-great-great-grandfather. Some readers seem to think this was a cheap shot at the slump-busting champion, although you&rsquod think being called second-best to a mutant horse sent from the future would be considered high praise.
Secretariat&rsquos 2:24 Belmont time is safe no other horse has run under 2:26 (even that is about 10 lengths behind Secretariat). Oh, and he still owns the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes records by two to three lengths each. It has been over four decades, and great horses still can&rsquot come close.
But what do we make of this? How is it that even the best horse this era has to offer &mdash with a stride so smooth that it borders on poetic &mdash would still finish 13 lengths behind Big Red?
Clearly, it&rsquos that Secretariat is overrated.
OK, exhale. I&rsquom not trolling you. I&rsquom just being extremely nitty about the marginal shades of &ldquoreally, really great.&rdquo By &ldquooverrated,&rdquo I certainly don&rsquot mean to imply that Secretariat isn&rsquot the best 3-year-old American racehorse in history &mdash he is. Or that his Belmont run wasn&rsquot one of the most dazzling moments in sports history (I practically sleep with this footage of it under my pillow). I mean simply that one of the key selling points of his unfathomable greatness is slightly undermined by its broader context. Specifically, that his records &mdash did I mention it has been over 40 years? &mdash have lasted so long in part because the quality of thoroughbred racing has plateaued and perhaps even weakened.
To illustrate, I&rsquove charted all the winning times for Triple Crown races at Pimlico, Churchill Downs and Belmont Park (excluding races that were held at alternative venues) over 9.5, 10 or 12 furlongs (the current distances of the Preakness, Derby and Belmont, respectively). 1 I&rsquove marked the trend for the winning times for each distance as of Secretariat&rsquos Triple Crown in 1973 (dashed line) and record progression for each distance (solid line). Winning times for all three distances improved fairly steadily through 1973 but have been trending slightly slower since then:
It&rsquos as if God saw the perfect race and thought, &ldquoOK, I&rsquom done with horses.&rdquo
Again, for purposes of parsing different shades of awesome, note that in 1973, for all the drama, Secretariat&rsquos records were pretty garden-variety awesome. That is, they weren&rsquot really far off from where we&rsquod expect the progression of records to have led. Indeed, the gap between his record times and the linear (pre-plateau) trend for winning times was reasonably narrow.
Which is to say, Secretariat was no Bob Beamon. Beamon&rsquos 1968 long jump in Mexico City beat the previous long jump record by 0.55 meters &mdash which still accounts for 41 percent of the improvement seen in that event&rsquos entire recorded history (and Beamon&rsquos record still stood for only 22 years). Secretariat&rsquos records have stood for this long not because they were so absurd at the time that we have yet to catch up, but because we stopped catching up.
For watchers of human sports, this can be hard to interpret. We&rsquore used to top human athletes getting better and better. This is somewhat concealed in competitive and team sports in which opponents&rsquo skill levels offset each other (making millions of bar arguments over the &ldquoGreatest of All Time&rdquo more interesting). But evidence of athletic progress is laid bare in virtually any discipline that has objective measures, like speed. Here&rsquos a similar chart for men&rsquos 100-meter to 800-meter race winning times at the Olympics:
Only Michael Johnson&rsquos 400-meter Olympic record has been around since before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The single longest standing world record in any IAAF track-and-field event dates back only to 1983. For some athletic disciplines, the constant improvement over time has been so consistent as to be almost creepy.
As to why horse racing hasn&rsquot improved the way human racing has, this old FiveThirtyEight article has a good roundup of speculation &mdash including small population size and lack of genetic diversity. The elite genes in the racing gene pool may be drifting overseas, and, in general, thoroughbred racing&rsquos center of gravity may be shifting.
All of that serves as a reminder that although we often celebrate horses as athletes, the sport of horse racing isn&rsquot really comparable to human athletics. If it were, a superhorse as super as American Pharoah would be rewriting the record books.
Secretariat: Races, Records and Legend - HISTORY
This new series will look at some of Secretariat’s most famous progeny and how the mighty stallion of Meadow Stable continues to fire the blood of some of the best racehorses on the track today. We will also look at the descendants whose most important contributions have been made, not on the homestretch, but on the home front as pleasure horses, working horses and simply beloved companions. Read more at www.secretariatsmeadow.com on how “the legend lives on!”
WEEKEND SURPRISE AND THE X FACTOR
No, you won’t see her on Simon Cowell’s new talent show “The X Factor.” But Secretariat’s daughter Weekend Surprise (1980- 2001) demonstrated plenty of talent as a broodmare. She was one of the reasons that Secretariat became an outstanding broodmare sire. He bequeathed his dynamic DNA to daughters such as her, who then passed it to their sons.
Weekend Surprise was said to carry the gene to pass on the “big heart” to her offspring. She inherited this “X-factor” from Secretariat, who was found to have a naturally huge heart that was two to three times the size of a normal heart for a racehorse. Other racing greats such as Man o’ War and Eclipse were also said to have the large heart.
In fact, Weekend Surprise is said to be a “double-copy” mare, with the X factor present on both the top and bottom of her pedigree. That means she also got the large heart gene from her dam, Lassie Dear.
Here is what Marianna Haun , who has studied the X factor for many years, said about Weekend Surprise: “One double copy mare is the Thoroughbred Weekend Surprise, a daughter of Secretariat that is out of a double copy dam. Weekend Surprise’s dam, Lassie Dear, produced all winners and so has her daughter, which produced Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and millionaire Summer Squall. Both sires now are producing outstanding daughters, and when mated with large-hearted mares, are producing outstanding sons.” You can read more on this at http://www.horsesonly.com/crossroads/xfactor/heart-1.htm
A. P. Indy, by Seattle Slew, won the 1992 Belmont Stakes and the Breeder’s Cup Classic, two of his most outstanding victories. When he took Horse of the Year honors in 1992, Weekend Surprise was named Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. He became one of the most influential stallions of his time. More on A.P. Indy in a future post.
Weekend Surprise’s colt Summer Squall won the 1990 Preakness. His grandson Summer Bird, “the chestnut thunderbolt,” won the 2009 Belmont and Horse of the Year honors. Summer Squall also sired Rainaway, who now lives at The Meadow, his great-grandfather’s birthplace here in Virginia.
Weekend Surprise also figures in the pedigree of Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont in 100 years in 2007. Before becoming a broodmare, Weekend Surprise won three stakes races. One of her last foals, sired by Storm Cat (who was out of Secretariat’s daughter Terlingua) sold for $3 million at the 1999 Keeneland sales in Kentucky.
Weekend Surprise was sired by Buckpasser, 1966 Eclipse Horse of the Year. As noted, her dam was Lassie Dear. Interestingly, Lassie Dear’s grandsire was Sir Gaylord, one of Meadow Stable’s champions and a Derby favorite in 1962. And his dam was Somethingroyal, who of course became immortalized as Secretariat’s dam in 1970.
Weekend Surprise died in 2001 due to complications after giving birth to her 14th foal. She is buried at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.
Christopher Chenery, founder of Meadow Stable, who created “an empire built on broodmares” with Somethingroyal, Hildene, Imperatrice and other great mares, always stressed the importance of the mare in the breeding equation. In terms of the X factor, he may have been ahead of his time. We owe him, and Secretariat’s daughters such as Weekend Surprise, our heartfelt thanks!
co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend”
After 39 Years, Secretariat Is Awarded Preakness Record
Not that his résumé as one of the greatest racehorses of all time needed any more burnishing, but Secretariat had some gold dust added to his legend Tuesday when the Maryland Racing Commission decided he ran a lot faster than he was credited for in the 1973 Preakness Stakes.
A panel reviewed a videotape of the race and decided that Secretariat should rightfully own the record for running the fastest Preakness.
The decision apparently settled one of the great bar-room debates among horse players.
Originally, Secretariat’s winning time was reported as 1 minute 55 seconds. Officials at Pimlico Racecourse quickly acknowledged that the time was incorrect because of a clock malfunction and adjusted it to 1:54 2/5.
But two clockers for the Daily Racing Form had Secretariat crossing the finish line in 1:53 2/5.
Thirty-nine years later, the commission reviewed the time at the behest of Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, and Thomas Chuckas, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club.
Using state-of-the-art timing mechanisms, the panel determined that Secretariat finished in 1:53, eclipsing the Preakness record of 1:53 2/5 shared by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007). Secretariat already held the Kentucky Derby and Belmont records, and now the trifecta is complete.
“It is wonderful for the sport to remove an asterisk and wonderful for the legacy of Secretariat and his fans, who believed he set the record in all three Triple Crown races,” said Leonard Lusky, who represented Chenery at the hearing.
Secretariat: Races, Records and Legend - HISTORY
A century before Meadow Stable, home of Hall of Famers Secretariat, Riva Ridge, Hill Prince and Cicada, put Doswell, Virginia on the racing map, Bullfield Stable in nearby Hanover County dominated the American racing scene. Its most famous son was a long-striding chestnut stallion named Planet, also called “the great red fox.” He was considered, after Lexington, the greatest racehorse up to the time of the Civil War.
On August 10, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga will induct Planet into the Hall of Fame in the historical category. Not only did this great champion and Bullfield Stable symbolize an era known as “the golden age of Virginia horse racing,” but they were an early influence on a horse-crazy boy named Christopher T. Chenery and the future Meadow Stable.
Founded in 1824, Bullfield became known as “the Red Stable” because so many of its winners were sorrels and its jockeys wore flashy orange silks. Operated by Major Thomas Walker Doswell and his father, Bullfield gained renown as one of the most successful Thoroughbred farms of the East Coast. In fact, the locality of Doswell was named in their honor.
Planet was born in 1855, sired by Revenue, the leading sire in 1850. His dam was the great racer and broodmare Nina, said to be the best racing daughter of the top sire Boston. A prolific broodmare, she gave Bullfield Stable 15 outstanding foals, including Exchequer and Ecliptic, a son of the great Eclipse. Planet was said to be Nina’s best. She was one of the reasons that writers of the period referred to Bullfield as “a nursery of Virginia racehorses.”
Planet was a handsome horse, described by John Hervey in his book “Racing in America – 1665-1865” as follows: “In color a rich chestnut, 15.2 ½ hands tall, he was remarkable for his symmetry of mould and the excellence of his limbs…”
Those limbs exhibited whirlwind speed against the top horses of the day such as Daniel Boone, Congaree, Hennie Farrow, Socks and Arthur Macon. Planet won 27 of 31 races and became the top money winner with nearly $70,000 in purses, a record that stood for 20 years.
He possessed enormous stamina as well. Those were the days when horses raced in heats ranging from one to four miles, sometimes running as much as 12 miles in one afternoon. Such races would be unthinkable today, as would the practice of racing the horse again after only a three-day layoff, as Planet’s schedule occasionally dictated.
However, the versatile Planet could win at any distance, long or short, posting some of his best performances at four mile heats. He carried Bullfield’s orange silks on familiar Virginia tracks at Ashland, Petersburg and Broad Rock and further afield on the Southern circuit from New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston and even north to New York.
Planet also displayed another form of versatility. He was an accomplished trotter who could do a mile in three minutes. According to John Hervey, this talent landed him in trouble at the New York track in 1860 where he was being worked at a flying trot before a meet. A race official ordered Planet and his rider off the track, declaring that trotters were not allowed. Other horsemen jumped to Planet’s defense, finally convincing the official to rescind his order against the champion Thoroughbred.
The Civil War and its aftermath curtailed racing in the South and interrupted what would have been Planet’s best years at stud (1861-1868). During that time, many of the Bullfield horses were hidden in the woods to protect them from marauding horse thieves. Nevertheless, an advertisement of the era proclaimed that “Planet – Virginia’s Unrivalled Race Horse will make his season of 1866 at Bullfield… commencing March 1 st and ending July 15 th , at $50 the season, with $2 to the groom.”
Despite the handicap of war, Planet managed to sire impressive offspring who made turf history of their own. His blood figures in the pedigrees of Kingman, winner of the 1891 Kentucky Derby Bowling Brook, winner of the 1895 Belmont Stakes the great filly Regret who won the Kentucky Derby in 1915 Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby and (on the female side) Fleet Nasrullah, successful son of the legendary Nasrullah, the grandsire of Secretariat.
Planet passed his trotting blood, which flowed from his sire Revenue, to his daughter Dame Winnie. She was bred to Electioneer, the great Standardbred, and produced the champion trotting stallion of his day, Palo Alto.
In the custom of the day, Planet’s portrait was painted by the famous equine artist Edward Troye, who at Major Doswell’s insistence, included Planet’s black jockey Jesse in the saddle. During a raid on Bullfield, the portrait was cut from its frame by Yankee soldiers. It was later found in a ditch and returned to the Doswells by someone who recognized the orange silks worn by Jesse.
Major Doswell sold Planet to Mr. Alexander of Woodburn Farm in Kentucky, where he lived until his death in 1875 at the age of 20.
Planet and Bullfield influenced not only Thoroughbred history but also the history of Meadow Stable in neighboring Caroline County. After Major Doswell died in 1890, his son Bernard inherited a portion of the farm called Hilldene and ran his own small stable there. Bernard’s younger cousin by marriage, Christopher T. Chenery, would walk seven miles from Ashland to Bernard’s farm and exercise his few remaining horses on the old Bullfield track. Here, Bernard regaled Chris with tales of Bullfield’s glory days, introducing him to a heady world of gleaming trophies and fine-blooded Thoroughbreds, a world far removed from the boy’s humble circumstances in Ashland. Perhaps it is no small coincidence that when Chenery purchased The Meadow in 1936 and began building his foundation bloodlines, he named one of his most prolific mares Hildene.
And, as everyone knows, The Meadow also produced a great red stallion, one who became Virginia’s and the nation’s “unrivalled racehorse.” Secretariat, “Big Red,” together with Planet, “the Great Red Fox” of Bullfield stand as pillars of equine perfection and performance, reminding the world that some of the most magnificent horses of the American turf sprang from Virginia soil.
We will have the honor of attending the Hall of Fame ceremony in Saratoga next Friday with Sarah Wright, the 93-year-old granddaughter of Bernard Doswell and her daughter Cecelia. Sarah’s meticulous documentation of her family history in her book “The Doswell Dynasty” helped the Secretariat’s Meadow book team offer the nomination of Planet for the Hall of Fame. You can read more about Planet, the Doswells and Bullfield in “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend.”
co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – the Land, the Family, The Legend”
Best Race Horses of All Time1 Secretariat Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.
I saw him run all 3 of the Triple Crown races and it was magic. I love many horses and respect them. However, Secretariat takes the title. Nothing can compare to his speed and personality. He was a gift from God.
The fastest horse on dirt from 1 3/16 to 1 5/8 miles in history.
Secretariat holds the STILL STANDING fastest recorded times in the world on dirt all the way from 1 3/16 to 1 5/8 miles in HISTORY and is just 0.2 seconds off the current 1 1/8 mile world record. He NEVER lost a race that was not caused by ill health (x2), unprepared replacement for other horse in long distance race (x1), severe interference (x1) or unfair disqualification (x1). Excluding these factors, he won his remaining 16 races all by handsome margins of multiple lengths, never a photo finish. Under healthy and fair conditions he would beat ANY horse put against him, not by a nose but by a margin of lengths.
I understand the Man O War debate, but Turcotte did run Secretariat with weights during training and still set record times, not many people know that. His times and records are undisputable, he's the only horse to ever get faster times from start to finish at the Kentucky Derby. And while MOW was awesome and a beast, I do not think ANY horse could have beaten Secretariat at that Belmont race.
The wins are unlikely to be matched by any horse again. As a 3YO, he won from 7 furlongs to 13 on dirt, slop and turf, defeating 3 future Hall of Famers, 13 World, track or stakes record setting horses, and setting no fewer than 7 stakes, 5 track and two world records, including all three Triple Crown records (marks which have stood for 40 years now). He was capable of remarkable versatility in his running style, running around horses, through horses or on the lead the whole way. He nearly set a track record as a 2YO in an 8.5 furlong race (one fifth of a second off mark). His losses, while unfortunate, mostly came as a result of his handlers' desire to let the country see the horse race before his retirement mandated by the breeding syndicate. He was generally such a sound healthy horse that they made a couple of mistakes with him, but that shouldn't take away from his absolutely remarkable performances when healthy and properly trained.2 Man O' War Man o' War was an American Thoroughbred who is widely considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time. Several sports publications including The Blood-Horse, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and the Associated Press voted Man o' War as the outstanding horse of the 20th century.
Undefeated in 21 starts if it weren't for a bad restart by the guy with the starting gun. He was facing the wrong direction after a restart when the starting gun went off (only race he ever lost, and t was only 6 furlongs and he lost by a head after spotting everyone 10 lengths. Also raced back in the day when many factors affected the times so they are not comparable to modern day times. If you factor it all in, Man o' War had the fast times of all and never ran a bad race.
In fact the only 1 he lost might have been the fastest any race horse has ever gone considering it was the only one he ever had to give it his all (of course, factoring in the heavier shoes, deeper tracks, etc).
For me, the only real way to compare and judge competitors from different eras in any athletic discipline is in how dominant they were. And in that, Man O' War has no competition. He nearly made a mockery of the sport, and all his latest "races" were really just speed exhibitions, as by then, no one wanted to send their best horses out to be so dominated. And all of that was with some of the highest handicap weights ever assigned. He was retired at 3, because had he raced another year, he likely would've been sent to post with even higher weight assignments - the highest assigned weights of any race horse in history to this day.
People really need to do their homework before just voting for a name they recognize. MOW was killing the competition so bad that the jockey club started forcing him to carry more weight. He was carrying on average 32 pounds more than the other horses and he was still beating them so badly that it actually became hard for him to find anyone that was willing to race. It became so ridiculous that in his fourth year of racing the jockey club wanted him to add more weight. His owner thought that was to dangerous and retired him because he was scared he would get hurt. N'ough said, I love Secretariat but I'm sorry MOW would beat the brakes off of him.
MOW was absolutely the greatest horse since Eclipse (1764). Even having Seabiscuit in the top 50 all-time shows this is about general popularity from movies than from facts. And contrary to the movie, War Admiral was not much bigger than Seabiscuit. Native Dancer and Secretariat would be tied at # 2 in a legitimate poll. Native Dancer won 21 of 22 and only lost the Kentucky Derby because of a poor ride. He sired Raise a Native who in turn sired almost half the horses alive today through his sons and and was damsire of Northern Dancer, the # one sire of the last 75 years. Native Dancer sired most of the half not from sons of RaN3 Frankel Frankel is a British Thoroughbred racehorse. Frankel was unbeaten in his fourteen-race career and was the highest-rated racehorse in the world from May 2011.
Not a horse in the classic sense, more a unnatural force of nature. On the rundown to the stalls I would get chills, and by the time he was being loaded I'd start to hear white noise. that's the sound of pure electricity. it hung in the air wherever the horse raced. You could slice the atmosphere with a knife, it was so thick with electricity. No other horse has ever given me these types of sensations. When he ran it was pure adrenaline. The air was thick with that too. He exuded it, and the other horse's felt it, they all knew who was boss before they even went into the stalls, they could smell it and sense it. Frankel was, is and will always be the king of all Alpha's.
Forget the American nonsense, all races on flat dirt tracks against rubbish opposition means nothing. The obsession with timing is also complete nonsense. Frankel is the best horse I've ever seen in 45 years
Frankel, much more than just a undefeated European champion, the best thoroughbred to ever set foot to a racetrack throughout the history of the thoroughbred. At his peak, rated a remarkable 147, a rating which has never been repeated, nor never will. His 2000 Guineas win was right up there with the best of his performance's, going hard out from start to finish and still making everything else look extremely ordinary, two furlong's out, Frankel was an amazing 15 length's clear, an achievement no one will ever see a thoroughbred perform again. Frankel had it all, a 100% perfect record, 14/14, which could have went at least 100/100 had his connection's decide to keep the equine champion going. Yes, Phar Lap's, Melbourne Cup win's and other major win's were quite impressive, but the level of horse's he faced would have been no where near the quality of horses Frankel destroyed easily. Yes, the famous Seabiscuit story was an amazing, unlikely fairytale, but to call him the best ever? No. . more
Been watching the greats for best part of last 50 years and Frankie has at the time of writing won 12 from 12 (10 group 1's) and has plenty scope as he goes now to the Juddmonte and up to 10 furlongs - can't ever recall seeing ANYTHING quite as good as this fella at the mile and the great thing is he really does appear to be getting even better - They make movies about the great horses in Hollywood and its plain to see how they exaggerate performances etc for dramatic effect, hope I'm still around to see what a director will do to attempt to improve the perfection that is FRANKEL!4 Seabiscuit Seabiscuit was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse in the United States. A small horse, Seabiscuit had an inauspicious start to his racing career, but became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression.
I like character and am most impressed when a horse or person is challenged that they take on that challenge. Any horse or person that does this is in my mind a REAL CHAMPION. That is why I need to choose Seabiscuit.
Seabiscuit, I think should be the number 1 horse that ever lived because unlike most of these horses in this list, they are born naturally big. Seabiscuit was the underdog before he showed the world what he was really made of. Despite of his smaller size compared to his rivals in his time, he was asked to run with heavier loads but still managed to run in record time, now imagine if he carries less weight. Wooh. At the end of the day, even without the size or the handsomeness of what secretariat has, he still is one of the greatest that ever lived and that is because the horse has heart and his not willing to back down from any competition.
Speed alone doesn't make the greatest horse. Courage and intelligence should count, too. Also, in considering Seabiscuit's winning times for races versus other horses winning times at the same distance, you have to consider he won a lot of handicap races where he was carrying heavier weight than horses who might have faster times in other races. Seabiscuit was also very smart. He had to relearn things in ways horses who were expected to win from 2 years old never had to. At 2, he was used to boost confidence in other horses, taught to always pull up so the other could win. He had to learn a totally different way of doing things then, so he could win races at all. He also learned an unfamiliar starting method just to race War Admiral. Stats on paper are never a complete story.
Seabiscuit won the heart of the nation. He ran past most racehorses retirement age with weights higher than most horses ever run with. I think the most seabiscuit ran with was 133 lbs or something around there. Secretariats highest weight was only 126 lbs. Seabiscuit also taunted his opponents letting them catch up then speeding away from them again. If Seabiscuit had better opponents he would have just gone faster. I would love to see a race between Seabiscuit, who never backed down, and Secretariat, who set multiple still standing track records. I don't know who would win. All I'm saying is no one ever saw Seabiscuit run against a horse he couldn't beat.
Zenyatta is probably the greatest horse ever. She was so great that she never ran a whole race to her potential but won everyone but one. Check her times her last mile in the breeders cup faster than the because winner fastest last mile in because history fastest quarter mile in history of the b cup. 17 plus hands has a stride second to none no horse has ever gained ground on her gives a world class horse 5 lengths with 300 yds to go n catches him. No other horse alive can run her down. And if I'm wrong prove it. If you had every great horse alive at the quarter pole tied coming for home. I'm sure you would not leave her out. Why? Cause you know why!
Zenyatta had a human quality about her. She was an amazing race horse. I've never seen a horse behind 3 lengths with a furlong to go and win the race after kicking into the highest of gears. Zenyatta winning the Breeders Cup Classic in 2009 was the equivalent of the New England Patriots' Adam Vinatieri winning the 2002 Super Bowl with a field goal on the last play of the game. Even better possibly? Zenyatta running down St. Trinians in the 2010 Vanity. Simply Amazing. If not for jockey error, Zenyatta would have also won the 2010 Classic, and gone 20-20 all time. Mike Smith shook her loose, inexplicably, 2 seconds too late. She beats Blame going away if he plays that race right. Still, one of the best ever!
She should be second on list. I'm not even into horses or racing but honestly followed ONLY while this female ROCKET was out laying the smack down to anybody who dared get near her. The ONLY reason she ever lost was all Mike Smith's fault, he even owned up to it and other jockeys just kept mouths shut because that knew there hasn't been a horse like her ever. Nobody even touches her times today! Her personality was amazing, I mean she actually danced for the cameras and crowds. She's at WORST top 5 all time, these others are just big names everybody knows THE Z TRAIN IS#2 FOR SURE
I love Zenyatta! She never failed to entertain us. Her personality made millions fall in love with her. I follow her now as a broodmare and I have to say she's just a great mother. She has two striking colts and a beautiful filly. Can't wait to see them on the track. Cozmic One is two and so is Rachel Alexandra's colt, Jess's Dream. We never had the chance to see a Rachel vs. Zenyatta, but maybe we will have the honor to see these two regally bred colts square off on the track.6 Phar Lap Phar Lap was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse whose achievements captured the public's imagination during the early years of the Great Depression.
Phar Lap should be nr 1. He must be the best racehorse of all times. He died way to soon, and I get depressed just to think about it. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have beaten any other racehorse, even the great Secretariat. He was taller than any other racehorse, and had to endure the extra weigt they put on him. He also won 37 of 51 races. So just imagine what he could do if he was still here. It just hurts my heart that he ran twice as many races that any racehorse do today before retirement. They pushed him too hard. The horse Towering Inferno that played Phar lap in the film, died of lightning, he was also nicknamed Bobby, just like Phar Lap. And that Pharlap in Thai means Light from the sky, is just spookey. That the horse who played him in the movie died by lightning. This is not just a coinsidence.
Glad Lys Gracieux won the 2019 Cox Plate to put some perspective on things. Lys was class but some argue Almond Eye is better. Winx winning four Cox Plates was great but Lys Gracieux highlights the differences in class from different areas.
Now lets talk about Phar Lap. Simply goes against Americas best on dirt versus turf by boat and wins easy under sufferance in record or near record time at the time and going wide. Phar Lap is so far ahead of Frankel and co it does not matter a is a true challenger to the likes of Secretariat. Genuine freak and some say who so both horses race the best of all time!
Very few horses ever have their name liveth forever more. Pegasus was the great winged stallion in Greek mythology. Greco-Roman poets wrote about the ascent of Pegasus to heaven after his birth, and his subsequent obeisance to Zeus, king of the gods, who instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympus. One could then say that thousands of years later that the lightning would strike, and strike hard in the world of Thoroughbred racing. In the Thai language the word "Phar Lap" translated to English means "lightning". Pegasus lives on and so does Phar Lap in the hearts and eyes of many.
He crushed all opposition south of the equator on every type of surface from sprints to 2 1/4 miles. His win in the AJC Plate as a 3yo was his Secretariat moment. At one stage he led by 30 lens, bettering every track record beyond a mile before easing down to win by ten and smashing the Australasian record for the distance by over 6 seconds. He endured extraordinary and well documented challenges to race the best the North America could put against him when racing on dirt for the first time, first up, dropping to last in the early stages, circling the field to lead before set a new track record when winning the Agua Caliente. He ran 2f in under 23 seconds during that surge. Legendary jockeys Willie Carson and Eddy Arcaro were there on the day and were effusive in their praise - the greatest horse they'd seen. The cotton wool champions of today could never match his range and toughness.
The reason that I think that she was the greatest ever racehorse was not only the fact that she won 25 races from 25 starts but the fact that she raced 24 of them over 5/6 furlongs. Followed horse racing for the last 50 yrs and although a lot of horses have had a long sequence of wins, none has won 25 and more importantly those that did win most of their races were from 1mile to 1and a half miles - no sprinter other than Black Caviar has had more than 10 consecutive wins over the shorter distances, somehow they managed to have one or more off days but B.C. always, always found a way to win
Hard to compare her against middle distance and beyond but definitely the greatest sprinter ever. Had a cruising speed that was untouchable in the jurisdiction that breeds and races the worlds fastest sprinters of this era. Did stretch to 7 furlongs but it would be debatable that she could have repelled the stamina of Frankel at that distance. It surely would have been a race to remember if they met and is a big shame as both were in their physical prime at the same point in time. Unfortunately they were on different sides of the planet certainly Frankel's connections had no financial incentive to travel and as it turned out Black Caviar didn't seem to cope well with her trip to England anyway although she still managed to win. Unfortunately due to circumstances Europeans never got to see her awesome ability because if you compared her to some of the recent dominating performances of Australian sprinters that went to Royal Ascot then they would have witnessed her winning by a very big . more
Won on straight tracks, turning tracks, left handed, right handed, all over Australia and travelled to the other side of the world to win at Royal Ascot, when she injured herself in the run. All time Australasian Group1 wins record holder. World's highest rated horse and highest rated sprinter. Beat world's 2nd highest rated sprinter 6 out of 6 times. Track record holder at Australia's premier track and fastest ever 200m sectional. Defeated 50+ individual Group1 winners and remained unbeaten. 25 starts for 25 wins incl. 15 Grp1 wins (14 open class against colts/fillies/mares), 7 Group2 wins and 2 Stakes race wins for $7.9 million in stakemoney. Champion.
I saw her race three times live and each time I was on the fence at the winning post. Watching her coming down the straight is a memory I will never forget and it was all so easy to her. Each time she gapped her rivals in the blink of an eye, and always whilst just being ridden hands and heels the whip never touched her big, beautiful arse.
Heart AND speed. Would have loved to have seen these 2 progeny of Bold Ruler, Ruffian, grandaughter, and Secretariat, son, in that match. Could any of these however, have beaten Count Fleet?
Greatest horse under a mile ever. Longer then Secretariat. The Jockey was always slowing down and she she still tied or broke 10 records.
Why do people take a great horse and put her 7th!? Ruffian was the greatest horse at under a mile. Maybe even the greatest ever. She could sprint or stay and would beat anyone and everyone they threw at her. But on that fateful day she would face a colt for the first time in her life. At the start she banged her left shoulder on the starting gate and swerved hard on her right foot. But despite any pain she kept running and in a few strides she was dead even with Foolish Pleasure. After a brisk three furlongs a flock of birds flew in front of them and the great filly's ankle snapped. But she kept running pulverizing her sesamoids ripping the bone through her skin until finally after 100 yards she stopped. After 8 hours of trying to save Ruffian's life, she was finally put to rest. Her final resting place is in the infield at Belmont Park, with her nose pointed towards the finish line.
Ruffian was this once in a lifetime horse..not just for me, for everyone. Mystical, dark, black except for a little around her delicate nose, she was a monster on the track. Ruffian had sprinter speed, even moreso than regular sprinters, but could take it a mile and a half, yet she was wrapped up in a show horse's body. A horse like this comes along only once in a lifetime, I was old enough to watch her tragic race, yet young enough to mourn her for decades. Have we had other very good female racers? Absolutely. But, for example, Zenyatta could not catch Ruffian, and Rachel would not be able to keep up with her. She was not around long enough to set long win records, hers stopped much too early. One of my wishes would be to bring her back to us, but we who truly LOVED this magnificent horse will hopefully see her again. As far as the match race goes, which any knowing horse racing fan would agree was a very bad idea, she was already putting her competitor down he was already getting . more
By far better than frankel won at 1 mile 1 furlongs won 1965 Epsom derby on the bridle and beat the best ever fiel ever in the 1965 arc by 6 lengths could have been 20 but crossed over the track in the final furlong second home was diatome winner of the 65 French derby and he beat the third by 8 lengths I have been watching horse racing for over 50 years and have seen most of the brilliant horses in that time great horses that where fantastic. but sea bird11 peerless no question!
Sea Bird was the pre eminent racehorse in Europe in the 20th century. He won the Epsom Derby and Prix de l'arc de Triomphe on the bridle , the only horse ever to do this. He was so good that he was never extended so no-one knows just how good he was. I have seen all the great racehorses of the past 50 years, but Sea Bird is the only one who sent shivers up and down my spine. Many people consider him ' Champion of Champions'.
Won his races with ease and when he won the Prix de l'arc de Triomphe it was probably the best ever field, which he strode away from.
I saw Sea Bird win the Epsom Derby in 1965 and his performance was simply mindblowing. He won the most prestigious Derby in the world in a common canter and 11 of the horses who finished behind him won 15 races between them during the remainder of that season. 'Champion of Champions' is a fitting title for this equine superstar.10 Barbaro Barbaro was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who decisively won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, but shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, which ended his racing career and eventually led to his death.
I understand the sentiment of those who think it's not right to put Barbaro on a best racehorse list. For obvious reasons I agree. But those people 1) didn't see him win the Kentucky Derby in one of the best fields in a very long time. Such a natural! Such ease! No sweat - literally. No foam at the mouth. Just a stroll in the park. He was amazing! I would have bet the farm on his winning the triple crown. In fact, after the Derby, I turned to a friend and said, "It would take something catastrophic to keep this horse from running away with the next two races. He loved to run, and it was so easy for him. So sad.
Understood that his career was curious short, but his KD was one of the greatest and strongest ever run. His second half split was crazy. His career leading up to that day was impressive as anything and thinking for a second that hea wouldn't have won the Preakness had he not been cut off and had to slow up and misstep, then you aren't being realistic. That was a very strong field at both as well as the Florida Derby. He is more than "a feel good story", he was a beast and he was a machine.
Barbaro was an ok race horse, but not in the top 20 or maybe even top 50. There are so many other deserving race horses like the #9 Zenyatta. No offense to Barbaro lovers- but the only reason Barbaro is relevant is because he won the Kentucky, and died on the track. Only one great accomplishment is his life.
Barbaro was a GOOD horse but did not accomplished much to be rank number 8.. it's ridiculous and an insult to racing and other greats to put Barbaro at number 8. ghost Zapper, holy bull at 3 just like barbaro, would had beaten Barbaro very easily.. this horse does not belong in the top 100
Interesting breeding which shouldn't have produced a horse of this higher calibre. He was a terrifically physically impressive specimen who oozed power and apparently he was not "molly-coddled" as a youngster. A horse who looked his best when galloping up the hill at Newmarket in '71.
Not at his best when suffering his only defeat in 18 races. Beat the strongest post war Guineas field and proved classy enough to win a King George over a trip beyond his best. Multiple group 1 winner certainly the greatest 1m -1m2f turf horse
Lots of talk about Frankel being the greatest but has not beaten the quality that the Brigadier beat and Frankel's four year old campaign has been brilliant but not tested him in the Arc for E.G. brigadier still my number one! Nijinsky a close second.
Best mile and mile and a quarter hordr. Would beat Frankel up a stick. Frankel beat the same 6/7 Horses throught his career. The Brigadier beat horses like Mill Reef My Deallow Scottish Rifle Parnell Dahlia. etc. All who went on to win Classic and Group Races.
To have sea the stars in this position tells me how completely stupid this list is. Secretariat deserves his place at no. 1 due to his speed records, to hold the triple crown, break all the records and still hold the Belmont stakes record 40 years on! Unbelievable. But sea the stars has done something that no horse has ever done and many have tried. The Guinness, derby and arc in the same season as well as 3 10 furlong group 1s every month for 6 months. The 2 times he was pushed he broke race and track records for the distance. He always done enough but I have no doubt the better the opposition the faster this colt could go. For me a very close second to secretariat.
A truly impeccable 3yo campaign from 1m to 1.4m he beat everything with a touch of class could of won a triple crown had he ran in the st leger, a devastating turn of foot and a cruising speed of a jet. Kinane sat on some terrific horses I. E high chaparral, rock of Gibraltar, Galileo, montjeu, hawk wing and many more his C. V as a jockey was amazing he won many of group 1s all around the world yet there was no doubt in his mind that the star was the best horse he'd ever seen or sat on, as Kim McGrath said when he hit the front in the arc "PERFECTION IN EQUINE FORM' THE GREATEST EVER
2000 Guineas over 1 mile, Epsom Derby & Arc de Triomphe over 1 1/2 miles, Eclipse & Irish Champion Stakes and York International Stakes over 1 1/4 miles all Group 1 races won over 6 months. Wow!
Incredible horse.. Only ever did enough and whatever pushed him he would stick his head out. Against anything. The horse I think he would have had trouble against would be franked over a mile. Any distance after that no competition
Last triple crown winner that is always underrated. Perfect horse physically. Graceful andpowerful, affirmed is overlooked when it comes to experts. His battles with alydar are classic. The greatest rivallry in racing history. Affirmed is my no 7 horse
Won more Grade 1 races than any other horse, 22 for 29 lifetime racing against Alydar, Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid! If you exclude Affirmed from your top ten list you lose credibility in my opinion.
Affirmed when he retired was a horse they knew could set world records. Affirmed broke hroses Hart's there will to ever race again. He is right up along side Secratairat.
Magnificent horse. Won the triple crown races under increasing stretch pressure like no other winner ever endured. Too much heart to allow Alydar to get his nose in front!
The "Wonder Filly", who is one of the only fillies to ever have been compared to the great Ruffian. Her 20 1/4 length win in the Oaks was impressive, but her win in the Preakness against the boys was something else entirely. Her time at the Mother Goose Stakes was less than a second slower than the record set by Secretariat. She recently ran against the best boys in the country at Woodbine, and she became the first filly to ever win that race. She also set a track and course record. Calvin Borel, who ran Mine That Bird to victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and gave up his Preakness ride to jockey Rachel instead, says that she is "The best horse he has ever ridden. " His list of horses whom he had jockeyed is impressive, to say the least.
I think this horse deserves recognition. The race between her and Curlin was one of the best and thrilling races I have ever seen. She should have ran against the boys in the Kentucky Derbyshire. You never know, she had the potential to beat the boys.
A win in the Kentucky Oaks, two weeks later defeats colts in the Preakness Stakes.
Great filly.. but not a top 25 horse. Only one great season. Maybe a top 70 horse, but not 25
To put Seattle Slew below Zenyatta is a joke to the world of horse racing. The zenyaheads are out, obviously! Slew was the only undeafeated Triple Crown winner, he did it with ease, he beat another Triple Crown winner in a race, and this horse is one of the few horses that changed racing forever by being an incredible stallion when he was retired. His life still lives on today, in my mare, in many horses and I rather doubt that it will ever die out. He was a beautiful horse, despite when young being called Baby Huey, a 17, 500 bargain of the history of racing. He beat quality horses as well, and unlike Zenyata she only raced male horses twice and lost once to them. A fine mare, but nowhere above the incredible Seattle Slew. TD
What makes Seattle Slew the greatest was the ability to reproduce champions. Affirmed is listed #13 and Seattle Slew defeated him twice and is listed #15.
How can they possibly rank the great Seattle Slew this low? He was the ONLY undefeated Triple Crown winner (up until last year) and as a breeding sire can arguably be deemed the greatest of all time, bar none. This list is complete BS--Slew should be ranked either #1 (if you also include passing on his talent to his get--no one else even comes close) or at the very least #2 if you are only comparing what each horse did on the racetrack.
I remember the news brimming with Seattle Slew's victory. It seemed that everyone was excited that so much attention was given to a horse and a race somewhere across the country. For a moment, we all felt we were back in some 1940's Mickey Rooney movie (The Black Stallion). And it was also the year my son, Jason Byron, was born. How can I not remember and not vote for Seattle Slew as my favorite?16 Citation Citation (April 11, 1945 – August 8, 1970) was an American Triple Crown-winning Thoroughbred racehorse stallion who won 16 consecutive races in major stakes race competition. He was the first horse in history to win one million dollars. He was foaled at Calumet Farms in Lexington, Kentucky. Citation . read more.
Citation is number 1 folks. The greatest horse of the 20th Century. 27 for 29 as a 3 year old, speaks for itself. Won the Jersey Stakes by 11 lengths in the midst of the Triple Crown. The Pimlico Special was a walk-over - no one else would take him on. Ran on 10 different tracks. To quote Andy Cannon, "If you went to Citation's grave today, and played a bugle, the call to the post Citation would break out of the ground and beat everything else around". A LOT of folks still feel that that's true. Citation was the winner of the computer simulated race between the greats. There's no doubt about it - he's number one!
Please do your thoroughbred horse racing history. Citation is second to none. S. Fitzsimmons said that Citation was the greatest horse that he ever saw - and he saw Man 'O War. Citation won the Sysonby Stakes mid week, run at a mile then went on to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup that same week-end, then run at 2 miles. Citation beats Secretariat, any track, any distance, any day.
He won the Sysomby Mile as a three year old against the best older sprinters in the country. The three days later he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at two miles against the best older distance horses in the country. No one has done that before or since. As a three year old he started 20 times and won 19. Man o War started 11 times and won all 11. Secratariat started 12 times and won 9.
Citation is number ONE without a doubt. His races across country and the outstanding way he won them, not to mention the computer simulated race between him and all the other great ones, he comes out on top! I love to watch DVD's they have of his triumphs!
,Unfortunately there are too many Americans voting who simply don't appreciate what the National is.
It is the ultimate test over the ultimate jumps over the ultimate distance.
To win it once is incredible, to win it twice is phenomenal, to win it thrice is verging on impossible, throw in a Scottish national in the same year & its other two appearances also being in the top 4 finishes, is simply one of the most outrageous achievements which anybody has ever heard of.
I mean I get that Secretariat was a phenomenally quick horse and has hammered records that have stood for years, and still holds those records today. but the Belmont is only a 12f race.
The Grand National, to put into perspective for people who don't know. Is a National Hunt Steeplechase, which is two laps of the track & over 30 fences, the field is usually around 50 horses, but has been as many as 66 before, the fastest time which has ever been run is just under 9 minutes, the race is just . more
Greatest Horse of all time with the biggest heart, and in my opinion it's like Sprinters or Marathon Runners - Flat or Distance Horses - Jumpers over Distance are the Bravest and the fittest horses of the lot, especially ones that win over 4m 4f! Take a look at the National in which he beat Crisp @ Red Rum "1973" Grand National: Enough said, no need to bore with times, tracks, excuses for losing or not being unbeaten. Takes a true Class horse to come back after a taste of defeat to beat the best in the greatest test of horse racing. 3 times!
Red Rum should be called the greatest racehorse of all time, as he won the hardest, most challenging race that exists THREE TIMES. Incredible.
I believe it is unfair to place all these great flat horses with this ultimately fantastic horse. Red rum raced in one of the biggest races of all time over FENCES such as BEACHERS BROOK and the CHAIR before they were reduced in height and now after the reduction the still stand taller than me 5ft 2" if you ask any Brit even non horsey ones who red rum is they will know. I think red rum is the best horse over fences definitely. However I agree secretariat is the best horse ever
Undoubtedly the greatest steeplechaser of all time and he ran against top class chasers. Broke their hearts. I am sure he made a mockery of the handicap system. To rate Red Rum above this horse is nonsense. Arkle would have made him look like a Selling plater. Alan.
Arkle is the best race horse that ever came and went no horse could touch him if he wasnt carring extra weight no horse could have touched him. all these americans can say what they want about racing on the dirt and flat but when it came to jumps Arkle is the only one
This must be an American site, what with all those Yankee horses at the top. If Arkle hadn't been shackled with more weight than the rest no other horse would have got near him. 24th on this list is laughable, and so is Brigadier Gerard's placing.
Arkle may never have carried 13 stone but he often had to give up to 42 lbs to the opposition and he still beat them by a distance. Mill House was considered the best steeplechaser of all time then along came Arkle and broke his heart. Without doubt,Arkle was the best steeplechaser ever. Des
Probably the greatest Derby winner of all time and would have been a great stallion at stud had it not been for the scum that killed this fantastic horse. May they rot in hell.
His Derby win in 1981 ranks alongside Frankel's 2'000 Guineas win as a wonderful spectacle. Truly mesmorising. A great advertisement for our sport.
Still holds biggest winning margin in the Derby by some distance joke of a position
He should be in the top ten great horse with the success of winning the Irish derby
21st Century Seabiscuit. It's his unlikely story that makes him extra special. I used to wish that he had won the Triple Crown but then I wouldn't be enjoying him two years later. Moreover, I will have gotten to see him race in person three more times in my own backyard.
A $10,500 investment earns over $12M (and counting) on the track before stud. Marvelously ridiculous. I ranked him with LA Sports legends Magic Johnson, Marcus Allen, Kobe Bryant and Fernando Valenzuela as an athlete who brought hope, real excitement and prestige to Greater LA as well as the world.
Considering the high caliber of his competition, his ability on all surfaces and versatility in racing style being able to win on the lead or come from behind - he should certainly be in the top ten! All time leading money earner in North America means he excelled in the big races.
Sure not the greatest, but he is still racing and winning. Look at his last race! The Dubi gold world cup. So dominate and fast. Wait until this season is over. Will win the Breeders Classic and be horse of the year. Looks like American Pharoah of last year. Physically and mentally the best horse running in the world today.
California Chrome is the greatest horse ever. He is a true champion. Chrome brought awareness to fans who knew nothing at all about the races. He's truly the people's horse. I love Chrome and everything he stands for. His owners and trainers are also awesome.
Winx is a great barometer horse. She is a freak. I have never seen a horse win races so comfortably. Her stride rate is freakish. Maybe she is a modern day sea biscuit version but she is a freak. She regularly finishes off the last 4 furlongs at unheard of speeds easily with consistently. In this regard I think she could beat Frankel. In fact Winx could sit on Frankel and go past him such was her sustained burst. Its interesting because Black Caviar would beat Frankel for sure up to 1200 at least. Winx would beat Frankel probably 1800 and beyond. Having said all this Phar Lap is a different level of freak compared to Winx. Winx is an all time great but pedestrian compared to what Phar Lap pulled off!
A good horse no doubt but not the best. The class of opposition she beat was generally moderate. She never travelled overseas and in her final race today an ordinary horse from Japan, Kruger, got close to her. This horse wouldn't have gotten within cooee of Frankel, Sea Bird or the mighty Ribot. And what about Kincsem, unbeaten in 54 races. And Kincsem "TRAVELLED" unlike Winx. I am confident Winx would have met her Waterloo had she gone to Ascot to face Enable. Des
Just have a look at the distances she has won over, plus the caliber of her opposition. End of story or the beginning of her story. Watch what she does to her opposition. I would hate to own a champion racehorse and run it against her. I am so glad to be able to say I have seen her.
Winx has won 19 Group 1's. 30 horses have ran second or third to her 24 have won group one's. She IS beating great racehorses. She IS the greatest in Australia and no matter how many champions come along in my lifetime, from my eyes, in my life there all in winx's shadow. A true champion.22 American Pharoah American Pharoah is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the American Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015. In winning all four races, he became the first horse to win the "Grand Slam" of American horse racing.
I watched him when he won the Arkansas Derby and every race after that. And when I saw him run I just knew that this was the horse to do it. He runs so flawlessly that you can't take your eyes off him. I know he's no Secretariat and I wasn't around during that time. But to me he gives you that hope like Secretariat did. And that's all that matters. Winning the triple crown only seemed like a pipe dream. But when he won, it looked like he won it with ease. He turned that dream into reality. Then he won the Breeders Cup Classic in record time. And I cried when he crossed the finish line. I never had that much emotion for any racehorse. Thank you Pharoah you gave me hope and I hope one day that I will be able to meet you. I think he deserves a rank because he turned non horse fans into racehorse fans. If that makes sense.
Three years ago American Pharoah won not the Triple Crown, but the Grand Slam of horse racing. I feel that some people overlook that saying that the horses he was up against were not as good as those previous Triple Crown winners raced against. But the same could be said about any other racehorse, that he/she won just because the other horses weren't that good. What makes Pharoah special is that he wasn't those other horses that could not continue racing after the strain of the Triple Crown and his owners and trainer felt that he had the strength to continue. He won the Grand Slam, the only horse to EVER do so which is why I think he is definitely as good as Secretariat and any other racehorse ranked higher than him. Personally, he is my favorite racehorse of all time, not just because of his impeccable career but because of his loving disposition, public appeal, and simply the way he won his races. I am so grateful that I was alive to watch him change the racing industry, and show . more
No where near as talented as Secretariat, or Man O' War, but was a winner. He was an amazing racehorse. But he had a winner mentality. Won all 4 races, putting up an amazing time in the Belmont race. This horse is definitely better than Arrogate because Arrogate never even ran in an of the Triple Crown races. The Arrogate fans need to calm down, he barely beat an old California Chrome. Also, California Chrome injured himself before another time him and Arrogate faced off, and that is why he lost that one. Arrogate also doesn't have the best competition. American Pharoah went right into breeding after the Breeder's Classic, so he never faced off against Arrogate. But we all know American Pharoah would come out on top. American Pharoah is the best horse with Zenyatta of the post 2000's so far.
There are not many horses that come around like him. One of the most unique strides of a horse ever, and he used it to his advantage over the others. He was able to conserve energy and eat up tremendous amounts of ground in the mean time. He came within half a length of sweeping the Triple Crown along with the Travers and Breeders Cup Classic. Still, winning the Triple Crown and the Breeders Cup Classic may well stand the test of time. He will always be one of the most popular of all time great horses with that very unique and kind demeanor that he had towards people.
Did a term paper that included Omaha. He was a great racer and the research proved it.
Wonderful runner, totally underestimated by most.
Pharlap will never be matched
It's a list made by americans for americans. Ok The big Red Secretariat can be on the first position. But I don't find for example in the list the italian Nearco, unbeaten on all distances in 14 races at 2 and 3 years old, and considered the best brreding sire of the 20th century. Fr remind, it was Northern Dancer's grandfather!
I think he was a true force of nature, capable of destroy the unlucky challengers in any race, over any distance and, above all, in any moment of the race. And the last one is the one that makes a racehorse a champion (Tesio said)
He should be up there in the top 5, He has won in all kind of distance and in turf/dirt. He won the biggest race in uk and France (twice). He is truly one of a kind.
Second greatest horse in the history of thoroughbred racing behind Sea Bird II. Ribot was unbeaten in 16 races stretching over three seasons.
The most successful cheltenham gold cup winner winning it 5 times and the only horse to win the two nost prestigious steeplechases in the same year something that will never be beaten.
His record speaks for itself. His sheer courage got him around Aintree to win. He was a not a natural jumper of the huge pre-war fences in the Grand National.
Turcotte began his career in Toronto as a hot walker for E. P. Taylor's Windfields Farm in 1959, but he was soon wearing the silks and winning races. As an apprentice jockey he rode Windfields' Northern Dancer to his first victory. He gained prominence with his victory aboard Tom Rolfe in the 1965 Preakness Stakes. [ citation needed ]
Turcotte soon started working with Canadian trainer Lucien Laurin at the racetrack in Laurel, Maryland. [ citation needed ]
In 1972 he rode Riva Ridge to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. 
Turcotte became internationally famous in 1973 when he rode Secretariat to win the first Triple Crown in 25 years, with records for each race, and the phenomenal finish of Secretariat 31 lengths ahead of the field in the Belmont. A photograph of Secretariat winning the race, with Turcotte looking over his shoulder at the pack, far behind, became famous. Turcotte was North America's leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973. He became the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbies since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902 and was the first jockey to ever have won five of six consecutive Triple Crown races (matched in 2015 by Victor Espinoza). [ citation needed ]
He was voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award that honors a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing. He is the first person from Thoroughbred racing ever to be appointed a member of the Order of Canada. [ citation needed ]
Turcotte's career ended in 1978 following a tumble from his horse, Flag of Leyte Gulf, at the start of a race at Belmont Park. He suffered injuries that resulted in his being a paraplegic. [ citation needed ]
He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1979. He was voted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and in 1980 was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1984 he became the first ever recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award given annually to the jockey who is Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or a regular in the country, who has made significant contributions to the sport.
In 2015, a statue of Secretariat and Turcotte crossing the finish line at the Belmont Stakes was unveiled in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, the hometown of Turcotte. 
Born in Drummond, New Brunswick, Turcotte was one of 12 children. He left school at age 14 to work with his father as a lumberjack, then at age 18, headed to Toronto looking for construction work. 
Turcotte now lives in his home town of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife Gaëtane and their four daughters. He is an advocate for the disabled and helps to raise funds for disability programs. 
A well-known survivor of an on-track accident, Turcotte makes appearances at racetracks to raise funds and awareness of the assistance that the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) provides to fellow injured riders. 
Turcotte was hospitalized on March 9, 2015 following a single-vehicle accident in New Brunswick. The van he was driving flipped after hitting a snowbank. Turcotte and a friend were both injured in the accident.  Turcotte sustained fractures to both legs, while his friend suffered minor injuries. 
In the 2010 Disney movie Secretariat, Ron Turcotte's role as Secretariat's jockey is played by Otto Thorwarth, a real life jockey himself. 
Directed by Phil Comeau, a National Film Board of Canada documentary feature film on Ron Turcotte's life and career, Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte, had its world premiere in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2013. 
Secretariat, Suffering From Incurable Condition, Destroyed
Secretariat, whose 1973 Triple Crown triumph stamped him as the people’s horse, was humanely destroyed at Claiborne Farm here Wednesday. He was 19, getting on for a horse but awfully young for a folk hero.
Secretariat’s 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes gave America its first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. In a year of turmoil that included Watergate and Vietnam, Americans latched onto him as though he were human.
“Secretariat was like the Arnold Palmer or Sugar Ray Leonard of horse racing,” John Sosby, manager at Claiborne Farm, once said. “He’s a people’s horse.”
Helen Chenery, who owned Secretariat when he was racing, said: “Maybe he was not the world’s greatest race horse, but he was a charismatic person.”
Gus Koch, assistant manager at Claiborne, where Secretariat stood at stud, said the stallion suffered from an incurable condition known as laminitis, an inflammation of the inside of the hoof.
The condition was diagnosed on Labor Day but Koch said that Secretariat’s condition “rapidly worsened” Tuesday, putting the chestnut stallion in “extreme pain for the first time.”
Koch said that Walter Kaufman, resident veterinarian at the farm, put the animal to sleep.
“When the inflammation occurs, swelling results,” Koch said. “And since there is little room for swelling (in the hoof), this is a very painful condition.
“Nobody wanted the horse to suffer and that’s commendable. Secretariat had a lot of class and he knew it. It’s a thrill to work around a horse like that. He knew who he was and what he was all about.”
Secretariat was buried in a 6 by 6-foot oak casket lined with orange silk, the color used by Claiborne’s racing stables. He was buried near his sire, Bold Ruler, in a small graveyard behind the office at the farm.
The brass nameplate on Secretariat’s stall door will remain there.
“Secretariat was a lot different than other horses,” Koch said. “He was a very special horse to all of us. He was admired by the horse world and fans all over the country.”
Not only did Secretariat win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in record times, he probably also would have set a record in the Preakness if the timing equipment had not malfunctioned.
Secretariat won 16 of 21 races in two years, but most fans remember the Belmont best. Already a winner in the Derby and Preakness, Secretariat barreled down the stretch at Belmont Park, and, amazingly, he was alone. It was 31 lengths back to Twice a Prince.
Using the customary racing equivalent of one-fifth of a second per length, Secretariat was under the wire for 6 1/5 seconds before Twice a Prince came along.
Not since Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948 had any horse won all three races.
“To me, he was always No. 1, the greatest horse anybody ever saw,” said Lucien Laurin, who trained Secretariat. “Everybody thought he was going to be great before he ever started, and he was.”
Secretariat was also a bit of a ham. Spotting a camera, he’d strike a regal pose. Later, when visitors dropped by his 1 1/2-acre paddock, he charged down the hill, snorting and bellowing, putting on a show.
But Red, as the Claiborne farmhands referred to the burnished chestnut, was a slight disappointment in the breeding shed. He got 85% of his mares in foal but ranked only 25th among leading active sires.
His best offspring, Risen Star, won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1988 before retiring.
SECRETARIAT’S MEADOW EARNS DISTINCTION IN INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD
Dementi Milestone Publishing is proud to announce that its best-selling book, Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend, has earned honors in the Eric Hoffer Book Award, one of the largest international book awards for small, academic and independent presses. The award is named in honor of Eric Hoffer, an influential American philosopher. Secretariat’s Meadow was named to the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Short List and was a finalist in the da Vinci Eye competition for superior cover artwork. For more information about the award program, see www.hofferaward.com
First published in 2010, the book about the legendary Triple Crown champion is told from the viewpoint of Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery (Tweedy) and the granddaughter of Christopher T. Chenery, who founded Meadow Stable in Virginia. Written with Leeanne Meadows Ladin, a Virginia writer and horsewoman, the book shares not only Secretariat’s story, but the inspiring saga of his birthplace and all the people who helped raise and race the Meadow champions. It is illustrated with over 200 exclusive photos from Penny Chenery’s private collection and was designed by Jayne Hushen. The book is now in its sixth printing.
“We are so pleased that Secretariat’s Meadow earned these honors in the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award, said Kate Chenery Tweedy. “It is very gratifying for our entire book team that, even after eleven years, our book continues to be recognized for its content and design and to enjoy robust sales.”
Secretariat’s Meadow, shortly after publication, won a Silver IPPY Award from the Independent Publishers Association and was a semi-finalist for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award. It ranked as the number one best-selling horse racing book on Amazon for several weeks. For additional information, see www.secretariatsmeadow.com
Dementi Milestone Publishing, also known as Dementi Books, is an independent publishing company founded by Wayne Dementi in 2004. It is located in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia. See www.dementimilestonepublishing.com.
MARCH 30, 2020 RETIREMENT MESSAGE from LEEANNE MEADOWS LADIN, former Secretariat tourism manager/historian at The Meadow and co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend” and “Riva Ridge – Penny’s First Champion” with Kate Chenery Tweedy. READ HERE: http://www.secretariatsmeadow.com/message-from-Leeanne/
For continuing updates on Secretariat events, Secretariat descendants, the Secretariat Team, and featured posts about the history of Meadow Stable, please follow us on our Secretariat’s Meadow Facebook page.
SECRETARIAT BIRTHPLACE TOURS SUSPENDED: The regular narrated tours at The Meadow have been suspended indefinitely due to Covid. Please check www.meadoweventpark.com for updates.
Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow is listed on the state and national historic registers.