Hold Your Horses: Secretariat Won Triple Crown 44 Years Ago
I wish I’d put down $1,000 on Secretariat in April 1973 for the upcoming three races. That would’ve been a smart investment.
On this day, June 9th, 1973, Secretariat clinched the elusive Triple Crown. He was the Michael Jordan of horses, and we may never have another one.
The champion was born on March 30, 1970 in Caroline County, Virginia. He was allegedly able to stand on his own at just 45 minutes old, and began nursing 30 minutes later. He clearly didn’t want to waste any time.
Secretariat was bred by a breeder called Meadow Stud and the encounter was arranged by Penny Chenery, who had taken over the operation of the stable in 1968.
The sire involved was named Bold Ruler—a fast horse in his own right. He had won the Preakness Stakes and Horse of the Year honors in 1957, and then won the American Champion Sprint Horse title in 1958.
Christopher Chenery, the man in charge of Meadow Stud, made an agreement with the Phipps Family—who owned Bold Ruler—that he would send two mares to be bred with Bold Ruler in 1968, and then toss a coin to determine who would get the first foal pick.
The idea was that there would be multiple foals produced in 1969 and multiple in 1970. But when one of the mares, named Cicada, didn’t conceive during the 1969, there was only one foal available for that year.
Chenery later performed the coin toss in the office of New York Racing Association Chairman Alfred G. Vanderbilt II. The winner of the coin toss was Ogden Phipps, who took the 1969 weanling filly from horse SomethingRoyal. It would never win a race.
Meanwhile, Chenery would receive a Hasty Matelda colt in 1969, and rights to the unborn 1970 foal of Somethingroyal—aka Secretariat.
Fast forward to 1972. Secretariat was a two year old horse who was already named as the favorite in a race at Aqueduct Racetrack on July 4th. Although he didn’t win, he would make a phenomenal last minute recovery to go from 10th place all the way up to 4th.
11 days later, Secretariat was back. This time, he was a 6-5 favorite. And despite a poor break, he’d win the race by six lengths.
His third year was by far the most remarkable though. He’d win the Triple Crown in dominating fashion, and become the greatest horse in American racing history.
Secretariat would go on to produce several successful offspring, mostly through his daughters. Secretariat passed away in 1989 from laminitis, but his legend will never die.