In 1973, Secretariat won the Triple Crown when he captured the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9th. His was the first Triple Crown win in 25 years, and for this had-wanted-to-be-the-first-woman-jockey, it was a spectacular Saturday.
“Big Red” ran the 1.5-mile race in 2:24.00 seconds, a stunning record that still stands, almost 50 years later. He won with a staggering 31 length lead, still pulling away, “knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957.”
Secretariat’s life is more than just the story of a racehorse. He inspired millions, shattered the dark clouds hovering over the U.S. during the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, with his almost godlike presence casting an extraordinary copper light of hope with every thundering step he took. The gift Secretariat shared with the world for all nineteen years of his life could not be ignored. A horse whose story began with the flip of a coin and a woman trying to preserve her ailing father’s legacy, galvanized an entire country into devoted patriotic fans of horse racing.
In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of outstanding North American athletes of the 20th century. He is the only non-human on the list. “Big Red” holds the record for the fastest combined time in the Triple Crown.
Secretariat died on 04 October 1989 and is buried at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. An autopsy revealed that his heart was about 2.5 times as large as the average Thoroughbred. “It was a perfect heart, it was just bigger.”
His record at stud doesn’t match his record on the track.
The Triple Crown
The Triple Crown is Thoroughbred racing’s toughest combination: Kentucky Derby, 1 1/4 miles, first Saturday in May; Preakness, 1 3/16 miles, three weeks later (modern history); Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 miles, second Saturday in June. Three races within a five week period.
In 1919, Sir Barton was the first to win all three in the same year. However, two of his races were shorter: the Preakness was 1 1/8 miles and the Belmont was 1.375 miles.
The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes is this Saturday, 11 June, at approximately 6:49 p.m Eastern.
- Watch the movie, Secretariat, on Amazon
- Or buy the disc