Secretariat: The record breaker

Secretariat was a one-of-a-kind racehorse. A record-breaker, an icon, and a serial winner, the world-famous thoroughbred took the racing world by storm in a career that lasted just 16-months.

Also nickname Big Red, due to his chestnut-colored coat and sheer, commanding size, Secretariat is one of the fastest racehorses ever. He shattered many racing records in the early 1970s, many of which still stand today.

In a testament to Secretariat’s global popularity, he was one of the only racehorses to feature on television shows and the covers of notable sports magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek.

Secretariat's Profile

  • Place of birth - The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia
  • Date of birth/age of death - March 30, 1970/ 19 years old (October 4, 1989)
  • Sex – Male
  • Owner - Penny Tweedy and Christopher Tweedy (Meadow Stable)
  • Trainer - Lucien Laurin
  • Sire and Dam – Sire: Bold Ruler, Dam: Somethingroyal
  • Jockey/s - Ron Turcotte
  • Record – Starts: 21, Wins: 16, Second Place: 3, Third Place: 1
  • Career earnings - $1,316,808

Secretariat's Achievements

Secretariat made a slow start to his career in 1972, finishing fourth in his first race at the Aqueduct Racecourse, New York. However, the two-year-old recovered and won seven out of nine races in his maiden season, winning the Horse of the Year award.

Secretariat was the first two-year-old horse to receive this honor. To date, he is just one of two horses to win the award at two-years-old.

1973 was a record-breaking year for Secretariat and one of the most successful by any horse in racing history. At three-years-old, Big Red broke track records at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Man O’War Stakes and set world record times at the Belmont Stakes and the Marlboro Cup.

After winning at Belmont Park in June 1973, Secretariat became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years. It was an iconic race, which Secretariat won by 31 lengths and completed in just 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a world record for a mile and half dirt track that still stands today.

The gap between Secretariat in first and Twice and Prince in second was so large that the CBS cameras broadcasting the race could not keep both horses in the shot as Big Red sprinted over the finish line.

Following Secretariat’s outstanding achievements in 1973, he won the Horse of the Year award for a second year running.

Notable Remarks

Before breaking records in 1973, Secretariat’s original owner, Christopher Tweedy, passed away. Faced with running costs of Meadow Stables and a large tax bill in January 1973, Penny Tweedy sold the Secretariat’s breeding rights to a horse rearing syndicate for $6 million. Conditions of the agreement were that Secretariat would not race following the 1973 season.

As a result, following Big Red retired from racing in 1973. He went on to breed 582 offspring, 41 of which went on to be stakes winners. But, despite Secretariat’s pedigree, none matched his unbeatable ability on the track.

Crowds celebrated Secretariat’s legacy in the racing world almost immediately after his outstanding victory at Belmont. “Farewell to Secretariat” Day was held at the racetrack, where nearly 35,000 fans attended to celebrate the horses’ achievement. A statute of Secretariat also stands outside the paddock at Belmont Park to mark his unrivaled achievement in 1973.

Secretariat’s was enshrined in the horse racing world in 1974 when he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In addition to this mark of honor, he became the only thoroughbred horse feature on a U.S postage stamp in 1999 – a symbol of Big Red’s legacy in U.S culture and history.