Running with Legends: The Life and Times of Secretariat

Ah, Secretariat! The name alone conjures up images of a horse so magnificent, he might as well have had wings. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to witness a living legend, then you should’ve been around in the early ’70s when Secretariat was galloping his way into history books and hearts alike. But fret not, for I’m here to take you on a jaunt down memory lane, where horse and human alike were left in awe of this equine marvel.

The Early Years: A Star is Foaled

Born on March 30, 1970, at Meadow Stable in Caroline County, Virginia, Secretariat was sired by Bold Ruler and dammed by Somethingroyal. Yes, you read that right—his mother’s name was Somethingroyal, and boy, did she live up to it! From the get-go, Secretariat was a sight to behold. He was a chestnut colt with three white “socks” and a star-shaped patch on his forehead. But it wasn’t just his looks that were striking; he had an air of majesty that made even the most skeptical of horse aficionados take notice.

Credit: History Channel

The Team Behind the Legend

Now, no horse becomes a legend without a little help from his human friends. Secretariat was trained by Lucien Laurin, a man who knew a thing or two about turning horses into champions. And let’s not forget Ron Turcotte, the jockey who rode Secretariat to glory. Turcotte had the kind of synergy with Secretariat that most of us can only dream of having with our pets, or even our spouses for that matter. Penny Chenery, the owner, was the woman who believed in Secretariat’s potential from the start. She took over her father’s thoroughbred farm and had the foresight to keep Secretariat despite financial difficulties. Talk about a dream team!

Credit: History Channel

A Record-Breaking Career

Secretariat’s racing career was the stuff of legends. In 1972, he was named Horse of the Year, and that was just a prelude to the spectacle that 1973 would bring. Ah yes, the Triple Crown. For those of you who might not know, winning the Triple Crown is the horse racing equivalent of an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). It consists of three races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Secretariat didn’t just win these races; he obliterated the competition.

In the Kentucky Derby, he broke the track record by running it in 1:59 2/5, a record that still stands. At the Preakness, he again came from behind to win, although the timing of that race remains a subject of debate due to technical issues. But it was the Belmont Stakes that turned him into a legend. Secretariat won by an astonishing 31 lengths and set a world record for a mile and a half on dirt. The crowd was so loud it was as if the Beatles had been reincarnated as a horse.

Why the Long Face? The Legacy of Secretariat

So, why is Secretariat the most famous horse in the world? Well, it’s not just because he won a lot of races. It’s how he won them. With a heart that was found to be about two and a half times the size of an average horse’s, Secretariat had the physical prowess to match his indomitable spirit. His Triple Crown win was a beacon of hope during a time when the United States was mired in the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. He was a symbol of excellence, a testament to what can be achieved when talent meets hard work and a sprinkle of luck.

Secretariat passed away in 1989, but his legacy endures. He has been the subject of movies, books, and even a postage stamp. In 2010, the film “Secretariat” was released by Disney as a feature-length movie. The film starred Diane Lane as Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, and John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin, the horse’s trainer. The movie aimed to capture the essence of Secretariat’s incredible journey to winning the Triple Crown in 1973.


Secretariat was not just a horse; he was an icon, a marvel of both genetics and training, and a symbol of hope and excellence. He galloped his way into history and our hearts, leaving hoof prints that will never be filled. So, the next time you hear the thunderous sound of hooves on a racetrack, spare a thought for Secretariat, the horse who could fly without wings.

More In: Horses