Horses – Secretariat – The Legacy
In this article we’re going to review the life and career of one of the greatest horses in horse racing history, Secretariat.
If you were around in the early 70s, regardless of whether you were into horse racing or not, you knew who Secretariat was. His name was plastered all over every newspaper in the world. There had never been a horse like him before and will probably never be another one like him again.
In June of 1973 he came to the Belmont Stakes with the chance to become the first triple crown winner in 25 years. Not only was he on the front page of every newspaper, but he was also on the cover of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. This is something that had never happened before or since.
Writers from all over struggled to explain what it was about this horse that was so incredible. In a book written by Marvin Drager, called “The Most Glorious Crown”, the author gathered a number of clips from all round the country with words printed about this magnificent horse. Some of the comments were one of a kind in themselves. For example, Time magazine writer, sports columnist Pete Axthelm, who never saw a horse race in his life said…
“Secretariat generates a crackling tension and excitement wherever he goes. Even in the kind of gray weather that shrouds lesser animals in anonymity, Secretariat’s muscular build identifies him immediately; his glowing reddish coat is a banner of health and rippling power. Magnificent enough at rest … when he accelerates … he produces a breathtaking explosion that leaves novices and hardened horsemen alike convinced that, for one of those moments that seldom occur in any sport, they have witnessed genuine greatness.”
But the glowing words didn’t end there. A columnist for the New York Post by the name of Larry Merchant, who went on to become known as the HBO boxing analyst with the sharp tongue, said…
“Secretariat is the kind of Big Horse that makes grown men weep, even when they are flint-hearted bettors, even when he goes off at 1-10. He is the apparently unflawed hunk of beauty and beast they search for doggedly in the racing charts every day, and never seemed to find. His supporters rhapsodize over him as though he is a four-legged Nureyev, extolling virtues of his musculature, his grace, his urine specimens. If he were to lose the Belmont the country may turn sullen and mutinous.”
The media explosion over this horse was simply unprecedented. Certainly, horse racing had never seen anything like it before. Even though nothing has quite come close to the furore over this horse, the media did finally understand and recognize when something of this nature was to be looked out for. That’s why in 2003, when Funny Cide was about to make a bid for triple crown glory, the media came out in droves.
In no way are the stories of Secretariat and Funny Cide alike. One was royalty and one was just an everyday horse. But that’s what makes headlines, when an everyday horse can actually challenge royalty. It certainly does make for great theater.