All sports have their heroes, the greatest athletes of their sport, the ones that are held up on a pedestal and the athletes that follow can only hope to measure up to. This doesn’t just apply to the human athletes either. In horse-racing, there is one whose greatness has yet to be challenged: Secretariat. His story has been one for the book since before his birth, since a coin toss that resulted in Penny Chenery having a foal in her stable that would become one of the most beloved horses in racing history.
His story is one that has intrigued me since I first learned his name as a young girl who was slightly to obsessed with horses. Most people when asked for their favorite athlete will say a basketball, football, or baseball player’s name. I on other hand would tell you the name of this horse. What follows is a collection of books, media, and a few famous artifacts that I feel best tell the story of this racing legend.
1. Secretariat’s Meadow
Written by Kate Tweedy, daughter of Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s Meadow gives reader’s a personal look into the story behind the legacy, telling not only of the great champion, but of the people and farm from which he hailed. The book includes Kate’s memories, as she was there throughout Secretariat’s life, including for his Triple Crown Journey. Selections of the Chenery family’s private collection of photographs and papers are included in this beautiful coffee-table book, something that can’t be found in a book written by someone outside of the Secretariat circle.
2. The Horse God Built
Bestselling writer Lawrence Scanlan tells the story of Secretariat through the story of Eddie Sweat, Secretariat’s groom for his racing career. Sweat’s story gives a more personal view of the great “Big Red”, giving readers the side of a racehorse only a man who spent so much time behind the scenes with would see.
Written by Raymond G. Woolfe Jr, Secretariat tells the history of the racing legend from the perspective of a personal friend to Secretariat’s owner and trainers. Woolfe includes his own personal photographs from Secretariat’s career, and tells the history from the coin toss that started it all to his burial at Claiborne Farm, the Farm that lost “Big Red” in the famed coin toss over the foals sired by Bold Ruler. The 2001 and older editions include a foreward by Ron Turcotte, the jockey that rode Secretariat to Triple Crown Glory.
4. Secretariat: The Making Of A Champion
William Nack, retired Sports Illustrated writer, gives the story of Secretariat, the only non-human to be chosen as one of ESPN’s “50 Greatest Athletes of the Century”. Originally published as Big Red of Meadow Stable in 1975, the book was updated and released once again to coincede with the Disney release of the film Secretariat.
5. Secretariat (Feature Film)
Walt Disney’s Secretariat hit theaters on October 8, 2010, bringing to life for viewers of all ages the very real and true story of a racing legend. It starts from the famed coin toss and tells the story of Meadow Stable and Penny Chenery all the way up to his Triple Crown Victory.
6. The Most Glorious Crown
It is no surprise that a book devoted to the past 11 Triple Crown Winners would feature the famed Secretariat on the cover. His record times for each the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes have yet to be broken. Written by his Marvin Drager and published in 2009, this book gives the stories of all of these champions, including the races themselves, as well as what it takes to make a Triple Crown champion.
7. Secretariat Commemorative Magazine
This magazine was produced with the Daily Racing Form to go along with the release of Disney’s Secretariat movie. This magazine includes a variety of topics on Secretariat, including his 21 career starts along with the race chart and program page for each race. Behind the scenes looks at the making of the movie are included as well, along with William Nack’s account of Secretariat’s run in the Belmont Stakes.
8. Time, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek
Secretariat has the honor of being featured on the cover of all all three of these magazines within the span of a week following his 31 length win at the Belmont Stakes and ascension into Triple Clown history. Below are the covers for these magazines.
9. Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte
When one things of Secretariat, it is hard not to think of the jockey who rode him to glory, Ron Turcotte. A new film documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada just had it’s first screening the weekend of the 139th Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2013. The documentary gives a behind the scenes look at the jockey’s life, including never before released shots of Secretariat and an appearance by Big Red’s owner Penny Chenery. The documentary will be shown again before the upcoming Preakness Stakes, and will eventually be sold on DVD.
10. The Triple Crown Recorded
Below are videos of each of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races.
1973 Kentucky Derby
1973 Preakness Stakes
1973 Belmont Stakes
11. The Trophies
In a real personal book collection, Secretariat’s trophies would be a dream that would never be obtained. However, as this is a virtual collection, dreams can be included. These trophies are usually housed at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The photographs below are of the display that resides inside the International Museum of the Horse and of his Derby, Preakness, and Triple Crown trophies. These photos were taken during a trip I took to Kentucky Horse Park in 2012.
12. The Statues
The final part of my collection would not be obtainable at all, no matter how much money one would have to spend on such a collection, but I feel they should be included either way. These statues have been built in honor of these legendary champion. One is located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky and the other is found in the Belmont Paddock of Belmont Park Race Track in New York.