So of course, I love horses and every year for as long as I can remember I have watched the Triple Crown. It has been over 25 years since any horse has won the Triple Crown and with the passing of Settle Slew, there are no living Triple Crown winners. Proving that it is an amazing feat of athletic virtuoso to win the Triple Crown.
Every year a favorite emergences and this year is no exception. This year it is "Big Brown" and I watched him win the Kentucky Derby 2 weeks ago. And I thought, "Could this be the one?"
It was not just his performance in the Derby that made me think, he could be "The One," it was, I realized his name, Big Brown that brought back memories of one of the greatest racehorses of all time and 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, who was called "Big Red"
Thinking about Secretariat brought back other memories, when I was entering young adulthood. The late sixty and early 70's were a time of cultural and political upheavals.
In 1973, President Nixon was in the White House, the war in Vietnam was ending, there was the Watergate scandal, and the "hipper" counterculture movement was in full swing. Because of the war, many Americans were dived and the culture clash between the younger hippies and older established generations acerbated that divide.
However, the big beautiful chestnut, Secretariat became headlines. For a brief moment, we were not for and against the war, hippies, or establishment; we were just Americans rooting for this incredible athlete in his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years
Secretariat set still-standing track records in two of the three races in the Series, the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), and the Belmont Stakes (2:24). He won the Belmont Stakes by an unbelievable 31 lengths! He named Horse of the Year. He was on the cover of Time magazine.
In 2005, Secretariat appeared once more in ESPN Classic's show Who's No. 1?. In the list of "Greatest Sports Performances" (by individual athletes), the horse was the only non-human on the list, his run at Belmont ranking second behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game.
The horse was named the greatest athlete wearing #2 (the saddle cloth number he wore in the Belmont Stakes) by Sports Illustrated.
Secretariat became a beloved figure with fans and non-fans of horse racing coming to see Big Red at Claiborne farm, where he stood at stud from 1974 through 1989, living in the same stall, which was once home to his sire, Bold Ruler. Secretariat sired a substantial number of major stakes winners,
In the fall of 1989, Secretariat was afflicted with laminitis, a painful and often incurable hoof condition. His condition failed to improve, and he was euthanized on October 4. He is buried at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky.
For those who never had the chance to see the great Secretariat run or for those who did
Here is Secretariat running Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1973
I cried my heart out watching him. For one moment, it was 1973 and he was my "animal hero." He will always have a place in my heart.
Secretariat running the Kentucky Derby
Secretariat running in the Preakness
Secretariat running and winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lenghts!