Secretariat: The Hero Who Obliterated Triple Crown Records

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25 Responses to “Secretariat: The Hero Who Obliterated Triple Crown Records”


  • I enjoyed your article about Secretariat and thought you might like to know about our upcoming book “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, the Family, The Legend.” I am the co-author with Kate Chenery Tweedy, the daughter of Penny Chenery who raced Big Red. Our pictorial history of Secretariat,his Virginia birthplace and the Chenery family will be published in September, just prior to the Disney movie. You can read more at http://www.secretariatsmeadow.com. Thank you for keeping the Big Red flame burning!

  • Nice article, but Secretariat never raced after 1973. Had he been able to come back as a four year old, there’s no telling what he could have done, but part of the syndication deal was that he retire after his three year old campaign..

  • Wow, that wasn’t even close. :D That horse was super-human… er, super-equine.

    I find it quite interesting that he continued accelerating all the way through the Kentucky Derby. Pretty amazing. I wonder how well his offspring have done.

  • Secretariat truly was a super horse. Thanks for sharing that video. It was great to re-live it.

  • It’s amazing how much the sport has changed since these good ole racing days. These animals were such a blessing. Secretariat ruled for sure.

  • wow what an amazing horse, i wish i was alive when he was i would have loved to watch him race and cheer him on, thank you for posting this it was great to learn a little more about ‘big red’

  • I super horse indeed, but perhaps not a hero, he was human trained, but he did possess great strength and all of the qualities that a race horse needs. IT has also been drawn to my attention that there will be a movie made about Secretariat, potentially making him a cinematic hero as well as a derby hero.

  • Interesting there is also Seabisquit a race horse that captured the heart of America during the Depression Era. Obviously the story of Secretariat is very saddening as he had died in the race.
    I understand that it's difficult to call Secretarian a hero, however there is nothing that disqualifies him from it also . According, to Campbell a hero is often assisted by mythical creatures and magic –yet no study or point is made whether that creature pr assistant is disqualified. Would King Arthur make it without Merlin , Batman w/o Robin , Hercules w/o Pegasus?
    On the other hand, the story of Seabisquite is one of under-dog making it from rags to riches story in the midst of economic turmoil and upheaval. I think complements the story of Secretariate complements the story of Secretarian and might shed some light to others that are not very familiar with racing history or influence. While on the topic of animals here is a really great video of camaraderie and evidence that even animals have hero like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HJTG6RRN4E.

    H.T

  • Secretariat is an absolute legend in the horse world. It is one thing to win by such incredible margins in all of the Triple Crown races, but the majority of Secretariat’s records still stand to this day – there hasn’t been another horse born that could live up to his achievements. Secretariat actually didn’t die while racing, he lived to be 19 (which is relatively old for a race horse) because of a foot condition called laminitis – the same thing that killed Barbaro a few years ago. Seabiscuit, too, lived to enjoy a comfortable retirement from racing. Seabiscuit definitely represents an underdog in the horse racing world – his trainer was old, owner relatively clueless, jockey too large, and even his own confirmation was working against him. However, while Secretairat went on to have a lucrative breeding career (though he produced more valuable broodmares than racing champions) Seabiscuit only produced two offspring that raced with any success. I think a filly named Ruffian could also fit this heroic underdog distinction, though she was a tragic figure. The filly broke her leg in a match race against her half-brother (the best colt in the country) but refused to stop running after the injury which ended up worsening the injury to a degree where she could never recover. She was euthanized right there on the racetrack.

    I think Secretariat, however, is a hero for not only his incredible accomplishments but for the amazing legacy that he left behind. To this day there isn’t a soul in the horse racing world who hasn’t heard of Secretariat.

    When he died, Secretariat was discovered to have a heart more than double the size of that of a normal racehorse.

  • I respectfully disagree with Secretariat’s status as a hero. I do not believe that an animal can be a hero. A key part of being a hero is choice, and animals are controlled by instinct. His success on the track cannot be fully attributed to him, but should be more attributed to the hard work of the trainers who raised him to race. If it weren’t for them, I’m sure Secretariat would have been content living a peaceful life, chewing hay out in a field.

  • Ryan Erickson-Kulas

    i don’t think a horse can be a hero. They do not consciously make decisions and are not aware of the consequences of said actions. While he may be inspiring, to be a hero you have to be more than just inspiring.

  • Ruffian was not euthanized on the track. They actually immediately did surgery on her (something they would never do today) and they had none of the modern methods of awakening the horse calmly then (as they did Barbaro in a controlled sling in a pool). When she awoke, her heart was still in the race and she immediately began to ‘run’ – thrashing her cast slowly down the length of her leg and further damaging her leg and ankle. It was at that point that they realized they had to put her down. She had a true race horse heart. I cried like a baby seeing the pictures of her being buried in the infield track.

  • I have gone back and forth in my head about whether or not an animal can be a hero. In this case I do not believe Secretariat is a hero because, like Ryan said, he was not making a conscious decision to positively affect another person or group of people. Of course his accomplishments are amazing and very impressive, but his competence does not elevate him to the status of hero. There was no positive motivation or intention behind his success, just the pain of his rider’s boots digging into his sides and his physical strength enabling him to move at lightening speed.

  • I don’t know if I would ever call a horse a hero. He accomplished very many things in his time and will always be recognized for that but, the credit should go to the trainors who made this horse and took care of it. This horse was groomed to win.

  • So, I figured that now is as good a time as any to contribute to the debate as to whether or not an animal could be regarded as a "hero."
    Honestly, I am on the fence as to whether or not Secretariat should be considered a "hero." Therefore, I am going to use the argument that heroism very well could be in the "eye of the beholder," and I am going to speak for all of the other horses racing at the Belmont in 1973.
    A hero represents an image that is looked up to and idolized, in some way or another. As far as we know, all of the other horses were just running around the track because that is what they were trained to do. However, what if the other horses saw Secretariat as a hero, (as opposed to a competitor), and were actually running around the track because they were inspired by all of his past victories and accomplishments and wanted to try to keep up with him in the hopes of being like him? Secretariat could have been a very much admired icon in the eyes of the horses during this time period. Through his vast amount of triumphs and accomplishments, he could have very well been the horse that inspired other horses to race – the icon that gave hope to all of those horses that wanted to achieve and succeed in a similar fashion.

  • As we’ve discussed numerous times in class, calling an animal a ‘hero’ is pretty controversial. True, what Secretariat achieved in his lifetime was impressive, but to be heroic a conscious decision has to be made. An animal cannot make a conscious choice, so I do not believe that Secretariat can be coined a hero.

  • I do think animals can be heroes but in this case I don’t think this particular animal is. He didn’t make a choice. It’s an animal breed maybe even forced into this kind of lifestyle. I don’t know if he’s particularly inspiring, if anyone would be the one to look up to I’d assume it would be the man riding the horse. That’s the closest a person can come to that level of achievement.

  • I feel that heroes are people that we can look up to, and to some extent,they are our ideal visions of how we would like to be ourselves. If that is so, it is difficult for animals to become heroes. However, in the case of Secretariat, I think that we can personify him in our minds and turn him into a hero. We can relate a horse being at the top of the racing world to a human being at the top of his or her profession. In this way, we give Secretariat human characteristics that allow us to see Secretariat as a hero.

  • Nice point. I’ve never thought a horse can be a hero. It’s talented and won most of the titles. Like Micheal Jordan , who make a legend with his talented skills, Secretariat made his own history in horse racing. And its quick retire after winning triple crown made people missing it more.

  • While one doesn’t usually think of an animal as a hero, Secretariat was an inspirational figure in history. Having worked around show horses my whole life, I know that some are just made for it and would never be content doing anything other than performing. I feel that Secretariat was the same way. He had a distinct determination that you can see even in the fuzzy video, which is inspiring despite the fact that he is a mere animal.

  • Who cares if you call Secretariat a hero or not. This heavenly creature possessed spirit and strength. This horse is one of a kind and the likes of him will not grace this world again. He was a gift of nature that even innocent children could relate too. Imagine that… I am so taken back that even I feel impacted by just seeing the video’s of his races. I know I am witnessing greatness.. I do not care if it is a horse or dog or human. It is natural beauty.

  • Rusty, I agree with you completely. Who cares if you call Secretariat a hero or not. I am impressed by his greatness. I have had racehorses and there is nothing like seeing your horse come in first, ten lengths ahead of the #2 horse, even if it is a only claiming race.

  • wow amazing..nice post…i love to bet in horse racing..and i loved this kind of sports..thanks for sharing the video with us…more power

  • Of course animals can be heroes. Self sacrifice is the essence of heroism. There are numerous examples of heroic dog actions. Or animal mothers protecting their young in the face of certain death.
    Humans are animals too by the way.
    I would say Secretariat’s love of running and his success is more inspirational than heroic. His Belmont run was otherworldly.

  • Love your article about Secretariat. He is one of very few horses in history who has won a Triple Crown. It is very unfortunate that his death was caused by an incurable hoof condition. Did you know that upon his death they discovered that Secretariat had an unusually big heart for a horse. Therefore, cardiac muscles were able to deliver much more oxygen to his muscles. This also explains why he was such a winner. Thanks for the great post.

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