The history of Secretariat: The unstoppable horse that set unbeaten records for all three Triple Crown races


Secretariat is the most well-known racehorse in history. The 1973 Triple Crown winner, who was owned by Penny Chenery, still holds unbroken records for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The horse, also known as Big Red, won most of the races he ran by a landslide leading into the Triple Crown.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Farm in Virginia in March 1970. When he was two years old, his racing career began. His very first race was on July 4, 1972, at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City. Big Red got off to a rocky start after being bumped at the beginning of the race. He finished in fourth place.


Although his racing career didn’t start off with a win, there would be many triumphs to come for Big Red.

The horse’s second race was the first win for Secretariat. The next race was on July 31, where he won again. This race was won with Ron Turcotte on his back, the man who would become Secretariat’s main jockey.

During the 1972 season, he won seven out of nine races that he competed in. He was also named Horse of the Year. This was a huge title for Secretariat to hold, especially considering how young he was at the time.

In 1973, Secretariat started the racing season off on a high, winning his first race at Aqueduct racetrack and his second at Gotham Stakes.


The third race of the year, the race that happened to be right before the Kentucky Derby, was a bit troublesome for the horse, and he ended up finishing third. Secretariat also suffered from a painful abscess on the top of his mouth prior to the race.

Secretariat placed first at the Kentucky Derby in 1973 with a time of under two minutes, a feat that only one other horse has accomplished since. Secretariat won the Derby with a time of 1:59, a record still yet to be beaten.

Two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes, he won again with a time of 1:53, another record that still stands.

Much anticipation was built up as Secretariat was set to compete in the last race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. During this race, the horse swept the competition and won by an exceptional 31 lengths. Secretariat became the first Triple Crown winner since 1948, when Citation won the title.


In October 1989, Secretariat was put down due to an incurable hoof condition called laminitis, but he would be remembered as arguably the greatest racehorse in history.

Throughout his life, Secretariat raced with heart… literally. After he was put down, a necropsy was done by Dr. Thomas Swerczek, who discovered that Secretariat’s heart was bigger than any other he had ever seen.

An average heart is about nine pounds, according to the doctor, but Secretariat’s was nearly double that size. Many believe that this led him to so many victories throughout his career.

Before his death, Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and had a statue built in his honor at Belmont Park. He is still frequently talked about today, especially during the Triple Crown racing season.

In 2010, the film “Secretariat” was released and starred big names, including Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Kevin Connelly. Additionally, a number of books have been written about the horse. In 2019, a statue of Secretariat was built in Lexington, Kentucky.

Secretariat set records that are still in place today. Though other horses have been compared to Secretariat, none have beaten the times set by the remarkable racehorse.