Secretariat came into the world on March 30, 1970 at The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia; his owner was Penny Chenery and his trainer was Lucien Laurin. His sire was Bold Ruler and his dam was Somethingroyal by Princequillo, and he was to become probably the greatest racehorse of the twentieth century.
Before Secretariat was born, his owner Penny and Bold Ruler's owners, Ogden Phipps from Wheatley Stables and Bull Hancock of Claiborne Farms made an agreement. The agreement was made as to get the best mares for Bold Ruler. Penny sent two mares to Bold Ruler, each to be bred twice; one of the mares was Somethingroyal. After the first two foals were born, they would flip a coin to see who got to choose which foal they would like to keep. The loser would keep the remaining foal, but would have first choice of one of the second pair of foals.
Ogden Phipps won the first coin flip, choosing Somethingroyal's first foal. The other mare lost her second foal, therefore leaving Penny Chenery with two foals; since she would have had first choice, that gave her Secretariat.
Secretariat was a bright red chestnut with three white socks and a star with a narrow blaze-he was thought to be too pretty. By the time he was a yearling, he still did not have a name. Six different names had been submitted to the Jockey Club, including "Sceptre", "Royal Line", "Something Special", "Games of Chance", and "Deo Volente" (which is Latin for "God Willing") until his name, Secretariat, was accepted.
After Secretariat was saddle broke at The Meadow, he was sent to Florida to start his racing career. It was there that his exercise rider, Jimmy Gaffney, gave the 16.2 hand colt the nickname, Big Red.
His first race was a 5 and a half furlong maiden race on July 4, 1972. He was bumped coming out of the gates and almost went down, but he stayed on his feet and finished in fourth place.
Eleven days after Secretariat's first race, he ran again, this time winning by 4 lengths. His third race on July 31 was an allowance race, meaning that he was racing against horses that all have won a race. It was a 6 furlong race that he easily won, and the only allowance race he ran in, because he was so good.
Secretariat's seventh race that he ran was the 1 mile long Champagne Stakes. He ran in last place in the 12 horse field, until the ½ mile mark, where he dug in, and started passing horses. While doing so, he unintentionally bumped into another horse, Stop The Music, but then went on to win the race by two lengths. After the race, the stewards at the track decided that the bump was hard enough to keep Stop The Music from winning, so they moved Secretariat to second place, having Stop The Music win the race.
Two weeks after that incident, Secretariat beat Stop The Music in the Laurel Futurity by 8 lengths on a very sloppy track. With only one season of racing, he was named Champion Two Year Old Colt as well as Horse of the Year.
He won his next three races, but in his last race before the Kentucky Derby, he came in third behind his stablemate, Angle Light. People said it was because his sire wasn't known for passing stamina onto his foals, therefore Secretariat wouldn't win the Kentucky Derby, as that was a longer race. His trainer later revealed that he had an abscess in his mouth.
The Kentucky Derby was next. On May 5, 1973, there was a record 134,476 fans watching in the stadium. When the horses broke from the gate, Secretariat stayed in 11th place, in the 13 horse field. Secretariat slowly gained on the horses until the homestretch when his jockey, Ron Turcotte, finally asked him to go faster. He won the Kentucky Derby and set the record for it too, running 1 ¼ miles in 1:59.40, which is still the Derby record.
The Preakness was also an easy win for Secretariat. He started in last place again, but his jockey didn't want the pace to go as slow as it was, so he moved Secretariat to the front quickly in just 1/8 of a mile. After the race was over, the track's clocker informed the Pimlico officials that he had clocked the race faster than the electronic clocker had. They decided to go with his 1:54.20 instead of 1:55, though it was still not fast enough to beat the track record of 1:54.
Once again, Secretariat easily won the Belmont Stakes and therefore winning the Triple Crown, the first horse since Citation in 1948. He won by 31 lengths and set a world record for the 1 ½ mile, 2:24.
After winning the Triple Crown, Secretariat went on to run 6 more races, losing two of them. When he retired his record was 21 starts, 16 wins, 3 places and 1 show. His total earnings were $1,316,808. He was once again named Horse of the Year. In 1974, Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
As a stallion, Secretariat sired over 600 foals, though none was as great as he was. On October 4, 1989, when Secretariat was 19 years old, he was put down due to laminitis. Before he was buried, he was autopsied by Dr. Thomas Swerczek. Dr. Swerczek found that Secretariat's heart was extremely large at 21 pounds, where as a normal Thoroughbred heart is 9 pounds.
Secretariat was then buried whole on Claiborne Farms, next to his sire, Bold Ruler. Only certain, special horses get buried whole and Secretariat was definitely one of them.
Their is now a Disney film about Secretariat out. The fact that a racehorse has had a Hollywood movie made about its life tells you just how special Secretariat really was.