Oct

26

 One of the funny things about Secretariat was seeing deceased Harvard devl eco prof Hollis Chenery showing his true colors raw and ugly when he thought that there was an offer of 8 for the horse and his share would be x. "I'll sue if you lose it," he immediately told the sister. All family ties went out the window. Apparently in breeding syndication deals, there is a performance clause which is that you don't pay as much if the horse doesn't win the triple.

Amazingly Chenery apparently gave the other owners of the syndication rights a guarantee that Secretariat would only lose one race as a three year old. Or else the price was reduced substantially.

The movie is played out against a backdrop of the decline of the racing business. "It's a minor sport," said Chenery, and it's good to see it back in the news. When we went to Belmont with the specs a few years ago, on a high August day near the Belmoont Stakes there were about 3 people in the entire track, and we got a real bargain on the food since no one was there besides us. At Meadowlands, there's a lonely Ben and Jerries and that's it.

Steve Leslie comments:

It is often said one thing that separates a champion from all the challengers is their heart.

Now there is the physical heart and there is the intangible heart. the heart within the heart.The spiritual heart. The heart that cannot be defined by physical measure. The true spiritual heart cant be quantified by mechanical means, it cant be captured nor conquered. There once was a champion who had the rare blessing of both.

Secretariat was in all likelihood the greatest racehorce of all time. He was sired by the marvelous champion Bold Ruler and foaled March 30th 1970 In a sport that measures margins of victory as "by a nose" or "by a neck" and a "photo finish" Big Red as he was called was so majestic and powerful he won he just didn't win. He vanquished. He crushed. He completely destroyed the field at the 1973 Belmont Stakes winning by 31 lengths and establishing a world record at the mile and a half distance that stands to this day. Although I watched the race on television and it happened 33 years ago, I will NEVER forget the image of Secretariat charging toward the finish line on the backstretch with no horse in sight. And even though the race was never in doubt, there was absolutely no quit in him at all. It was as if he were telling the racing world that I am going to give you a show that you will never see again. You bought a ticket to watch me run and I will not disappoint you. And the ground shook and crowd thundered. They should have created a word to describe the event that day. Secretarian. Even though I grew up in a blue collar town in the rust best of the United States, From that moment on, I became a life long fan of the Sport of Kings. He gave me a story to tell to my children and my children's children that I had the honor to watch the mightiest of the mighty. The greatest of all the greats.

He also set speed records at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The only horse in history to accomplish that herculean feat. He thus became the the first triple crown winner since Citation in 1948. All in all, there have been only 11 horses to have been christened triple crown winners. This requires an entrant to win 3 races in 5 weeks against the most elite field in its sport and across 3 varying distances on three different tracks. A bronze statue of the great horse stands in the paddock area of Belmont Park in Elmont NY forever immortalizing this most unique of equines.

After his unfortunate death in 1989 due to laminitis an incurable hoof disease, he was euthanized on October 4th. He was buried whole at Claiborne Farms in Paris Kentucky. This is such a unique honor befitting the great champion. By tradition, thoroughbreds are buried by parts, their head to symbolize intelligence, their heart to signify strength and their legs to describe power.

An autopsy was performed at the University of Kentucky; by Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinarian who performed the autopsy. To his utter amazement, he found that Secretariat's heart was the largest he had ever seen in a horse—approximately three times the size of a normal horse's heart. Unlike most enlarged hearts, Secretariat's showed absolutely no signs of disease. The heart weighed 21 pounds (9.6 kg); the normal is 7 pounds (3.2 kg). He had a powerplant that was nuclear when all the others were running on diesel.

In 1999 a commemorative stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service to honor the spectacular champion. A fitting honor to one whose likes we may not see for a hundred years or more.

As we approach the Kentucky Derby and the Run for the Roses I wanted to take the time to honor this most amazing turf warrior with a humble tribute befitting him . I can only say that if you ever saw him run My Lord you would never forget it.

An autopsy was performed at the University of Kentucky; by Dr. Thomas Swerczek, the veterinarian who performed the autopsy. To his utter amazement, he found that Secretariat's heart was the largest he had ever seen in a horse—approximately three times the size of a normal horse's hea


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