Thursday, October 28, 2010

Secretariat

I was a little apprehensive about doing today's animal, just because he is so well known already (heck, there is even a movie out right now about him.) But I think the following video is just too good to not be posted.

Behold! The 1973 Belmont Stakes.



Secretariat is without a doubt one of the greatest animal athletes to ever live. In his short racing career he set numerous track and world records, and won the Triple Crown for the first time since 1948 (the longest drought save the current 32 year one that we are in now). His 1:58 2/5 track time for the Kentucky Derby is still a record, and it took almost 30 years for another horse to even break the two minute mark. One of the most remarkable things about that race is the fact that he never slowed down. Every single quarter mile he ran was faster than the one before it. His Belmont run, which is also a standing World Record, was one of the widest winning margins ever. He was named American Horse of the Year in 1972 and 1973, and only one other horse in history has been named Horse of the Year as a two year old.
(Image Source)

Secretariat was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness Stakes winner and 3rd place runner in that year's Derby and Belmont. His dam, Somethingroyal, only raced once but was the mother of four stakes winners. In 1973 she was named Broodmare of the Year. Secretariat was born on March 30th, 1970, and his ownership by Penny Chenery was literally determined by a coin toss. The name of the horse was actually chosen by the farm's secretary, who had previously submitted ten names that were all rejected by the Jockey Club. Finally, the eleventh name (and the one associated with her profession) was chosen. He was a huge chestnut, nicknamed "Big Red," and at his peak stood 16.2 hands tall and weighed 1,200lbs.

(Image Source)
Secretariat won 16 out of this 21 races, and placed outside of the top three in only one. He was retired after his three year old year and went on to sire a handful of future champions, but none ever matched his greatness. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after suffering from laminitis, an extremely painful hoof disease. His necropsy went on to show that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of a normal horse's.

In the ESPN list of the 100 greatest athletes of all time, Secretariat placed 35th, the highest non-human on the list. He was also inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1974 and was voted Blood-Horse Magazine's #2 Horse of All Time (behind Man O' War.) A statue of him now stands in front of Belmont Park. His legacy lives on today through countless descendants, including last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver and 2004 Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.

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