05/23/2012 2:01PM

Triple Crown Winners: Secretariat



Bill Nack, Secretariat's biographer, recalls watching the handsome chestnut colt pause while grazing at Belmont Park and stare into the sky to follow the flight of a plane. Wishful thinking? Envy? Or was Big Red just checking out the competition? By the time Secretariat got through with the 1973 Triple Crown, most earthly metaphors had been exhausted. His image adorned Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. His stallion syndication had commanded $6.08 million, and that was beginning to look like the biggest bargain since the Dutch bought Manhattan for pocket change.


More than simply win the Triple Crown, Secretariat singlehandedly restored its place as one of America's great sporting achievements. It had been 25 years since Citation's sweep in 1948, and with each passing year, the Triple Crown had been losing much of its mystique. It had become, instead, an impossible dream.

Secretariat lifted the Triple Crown on his broad shoulders and carried it to new heights. A record in the Derby. An unofficial record in the Preakness. And then still another record in his operatic Belmont Stakes that may last as long as horses run in circles.

"No one can remember anything quite like it, not even the oldest veteran," Nack wrote of Secretariat's singular grandeur as he approached the end of the Belmont, 31 lengths in front of the runner-up.

"No one applauds during the running of a race," Nack wrote, "but now the crowds in the box seats and the grandstand are standing as one and clapping as Secretariat races alone through the homestretch. They've come to see a coronation, America's ninth Triple Crown winner, but many are beginning to realize that they are witnessing the greatest single performance in the history of the sport."


OWNER: Meadow Stable
TRAINER: Lucien Laurin
JOCKEY: Ron Turcotte
BREEDER: Meadow Stud Inc.

An overpowering 2-year-old campaign with six stakes victories gave him the Horse of the Year title. After easy victories in two Aqueduct preps, he faltered in the Wood, running third to stable mate Angle Light. But he righted himself for the Triple Crown, including the first sub-2:00 Kentucky Derby and a 31-length victory in the Belmont. He was upset twice more, by two Allen Jerkenstrained horses, losing to Onion in the Whitney and Prove Out in the Woodward. He concluded his career with two tries on turf, winning the Man o' War and Canadian International and securing the grass championship in addition to his 3-year-old and Horse of the Year titles.

Profiles of Triple Crown winners

Sir Barton (1919) Gallant Fox (1930) Omaha (1935) War Admiral (1937)
Whirlaway (1941) Count Fleet (1943) Assault (1946) Citation (1948)
Secretariat (1973) Seattle Slew (1977) Affirmed (1978) ?