Twice The Heart
was conceived in Kentucky and born in Virginia. When turned out
to graze with the other foals and dams, Secretariat was seen to
be more independant and masterful than the others. He didn't cling
to his mother like newborns usually do. Owner, Penny Tweedy, recognized
almost immediately that this was an intelligent, confident, and
curious individual. He was going to be a "take-charge"
kind of horse someday.Some of the first names submitted to the Jockey
Club for this colt were "Sceptre", "Royal Line",
"Something Special", "Games of Chance", and
"Deo Volente" (which is Latin for "God Willing").
But none of these names were available. Finally, the sixth name
submitted was accepted. And that
is how we came to know him as Secretariat. Trainer, Lucien Laurin,
started the colt in a 5 1/2 furlong purse at Aqueduct on the fourth
of July. His odds that day were 3-to-1 (the highest odds you would
ever receive on Secretariat). The poor chestnut colt got mugged
coming out of the gate, and suffered terrible interference. What
a surprising introduction this was to his new career! He finished
in fourth that day - the only time he would ever finish off the
board. From this rough treatment, he learned to break slowly from
the gate to avoid trouble. He was indeed a quick learner.
The remainder of his two-year-old season was an exhibition of consistency.
He put together a string of eight consecutive first place finishes,
including the best juvenile events in this country. The only black
marks against an otherwise perfect season were the aforementioned
debut race, and the Champagne Stakes at Belmont which was taken
away from him on a disqualification and awarded to Stop The Music.
By year end, it was virtually unanimous that Secretariat was the
most exciting horse in training (of any age), so at the age of two,
he was crowned Horse Of The Year.
Secretariat wintered at Hialeah, Florida, while plans for his future
were being made. In a deal arranged by Claiborne Farm, the colt
was syndicated into shares and therefore the future breeding rights
to him were purchased. The deal was worth a record $6,080,000 and
stipulated the condition that the colt would only race though his
At three, he debuted in the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct at the
shrunken odds of 1-to-5, so great was the public's faith in him,
although he hadn't raced in four months. No worries - he won easily
by 4 1/2 lengths. This was followed by a three length victory in
the Gotham Stakes. Here was, at this point, a virtually unstoppable
superstar. He had only one more prep planned before the Triple Crown
and that was the Wood Memorial. "Superman" failed that
day. The victory went to stablemate Angle Light, with Sham second.
Secretariat's third place performance was disappointing to most,
and unbelievable to others. Had someone placed Kryptonite in his
No - he was merely the victim of a slow pace, and simply could
not reach the other two in time. Secretariat knew he had lost, and
that angered him, according to his owner. Miss Tweedy also remarked
that the loss was like a release valve - it took a great deal of
pressure off the colt going into the Triple Crown. It showed the
world that he was real, which made his outstanding victories all
the more phenomenal.
The public was convinced the Wood had been an aberration. Secretariat
and Angle Light were the bettors' choice in the Derby at 3-to-2,
although Sham was getting very good support as second choice at
5-to-2 odds. Shecky Greene assumed the early lead with Gold Bag,
Royal And Regal, Angle Light and Sham in closest pursuit. Where
was the $6 million dollar colt? Dead last. Secretariat relaxed nicely
from the gate, and settled in at the rear, allowing the others to
show the way. Making his way into the first turn he moved to the
outside and began picking off the competition one by one.
Secretariat charged up the backstretch with his sights set on the
leader who was by this time - Sham. That one drew clear of his rivals
rounding the final turn, but Secretariat was looming on the outside.
Sham led the way into the stretch but quickly Secretariat was upon
him. For a few strides they ran together. Clearly the winner would
be one of these two, as the others were hopelessly outpaced. Jockey
Ron Turcotte showed the whip to his mount just once, and the chestnut
colt responded, drawing away from his pursuers. At the wire, he
had won by 2 1/2 lengths over Sham, setting a new track record.
Sham's race was also a marvelous one. His finishing time also bettered
the previous race record. Our Native was 8 lengths further away
in third place.
In the Preakness, Secretariat again began in last place, but was
close to the rear of the pack, not far back. He passed the grandstand
the first time still trailing. Then, far before Turcotte planned
to urge him forward, Secretariat made up his own mind that the time
had come to take the lead. He lunged forward with a mighty leap
and burst past the others. He soared up the outside of the pack
and assumed the lead before they had even gone a half mile. The
remainder of the race was simply for the others to determine who
would finish second behind him. Sham was once again the best of
the rest, finishing (again) 2 1/2 lengths behind Secretariat, with
Our Native (again) eight lengths further back in third place. The
finishing time on the track's teletimer was 1:55, a full second
off the track record, but Daily Racing Form clockers all recorded
a time of 1:53 2/5, which shattered the old record. The matter of
the official time of this race is still in deliberations.
For the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat emerged from an inside post
position in a field of only 5 runners. The break was clean and My
Gallant got out the quickest with Sham up on the outside, and Secretariat
at the rail. Seeing no one to block his path and interfere with
him, Secretariat went right for the lead. He assumed command almost
immediately after the start, and Sham went right up with him to
pressure him. The two raced together around the first turn, then
Secretariat drew away, and continued drawing away. By the mid-backstretch
his lead was 10 lengths. By the far turn it was 12 lengths. He turned
into the homestretch at least 20 lengths ahead of the others.
Chick Anderson, who called the race that day, spoke the now immortal
words "...but Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine...
he's a sixteenth of a mile ahead of the other horses!" And
he continued to widen the margin. 22 lengths. 25 lengths. 28 lengths.
At the wire, the official margin was an unbelieveable 31 lengths.
Twice a Prince was far, far back in second place. There was no doubt
about this finishing time - 2:24 flat - a new world record.
"Big Red" went next to the Arlington International where
his odds were drummed down to microscopic proportions, 1-to-20.
He won that race by 9 lengths. The he ran in the Whitney Stakes,
carrying a low-grade fever, and lost to Onion, but only by a length.
In the Marlboro Invitational, he spearheaded a Meadow Stable exacta,
leading Riva Ridge to the line. His last start on the dirt came
in the sloppy Woodward Stakes, and there he finished second to Prove
His last two outings both came on the turf. Lucien Laurin convinced
Penny Tweedy that Secretariat could be even better on grass than
he had been on the dirt. Perhaps the trainer was right - his turf
debut in the Man o'War Stakes resulted in a new course record at
Belmont Park. For his final race, Secretariat would get the services
of jockey Eddie Maple. Turcotte was serving a suspension and was
not allowed to ride for a certain number of days. The swansong came
in the Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine, Ontario.
The weather was miserable, foggy, wet and cold. But Secretariat
let no one down. He powered around the course like a locomotive
with steam blowing from his nostrils. He was an easy 6 1/2 length
winner. This victory brought his earnings to a then-record of $1,316,808.
A few weeks later, he was paraded under tack at Aqueduct, site
of his first race, before a crowd of admirers who longed for one
more glimpse of him carrying the famous Meadow silks. The crowd
of 6,000 was the largest ever to gather at Aqueduct on a non-racing
Secretariat was retired to Claiborne Farm where he sired Horse
Of The Year LADY'S SECRET and champions MEDAILLE D'OR and RISEN
STAR. Other outstanding offspring included GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Travers
winner), IMAGE OF GREATNESS, FIESTA LADY, PANCHO VILLA, TERLINGUA,
ATHYKA, CLEVER SECRET, TINNERS WAY and many others.
Even more impressive is the role-call of his daughters' produce.
They include champions CHIEF'S CROWN, A.P. INDY, DEHERE, BORN WILD
(in Austria), MIZORAM (in Dubai), CORREGIO (steeplechaser), and
ISTABRAAQ (hurdler), and remarkable stakes winners LACOVIA, STORM
CAT, CLASSIC CROWN, SECRETO, AL MAMOON, GONE WEST, SUMMER SQUALL,
HONOR GRADES, LA GUERIERE, HEART OF JOY, CAPTIVE MISS, CHEROKEE
ROSE (IRE), TA RIB, SPINNING ROUND, IRGUN, DARE AND GO, ATTICUS,
HEART OF OAK, LISTENING, WELL CHOSEN, and so many others.
Secretariat died at age 19, relatively young for a thoroughbred.
He had been suffering from an incurable foot disease called laminitis,
which made it painful for him to walk or even stand. When his suffering
became too great, the heart-wrenching decision was made to end his
life peacefully. Secretariat was given the honor of being buried
whole in the Claiborne cemetary. It is traditional for horses to
be buried "head, heart, and hooves", but certain special
horses deserve special treatment. Visitors still flock to Claiborne
Farm, bearing flowers and gifts for their hero.