The Real Secretariat

 The Disney movie, “Secretariat,” will be released on Oct. 8, but many, including myself, have already seen it or plan on seeing it before its opening.
There already have been reviews published, most of them mixed. This is not  a review, but a merely a look at the real Secretariat through my eyes, my lens, and my recollections through a kaleidoscope of colors and images that it is hoped will bring Secretariat to life for those who did not have the privilege of seeing him in person.

On Wednesday, as Part 2 of this blog, I am reprinting for the second time a feature I wrote in 2002 on Secretariat’s grooms when he was growing up at The Meadow. Although the story was first reprinted two years ago, some on here now may not have read it, and I am hoping it provides a look back at an era long gone and a group of people whom time has passed by. It also is a look at a once great empire that has sadly decayed with the years.

The only comment I want to make regarding the film at this time is, despite the many liberties taken, the bizarre depiction of some of the characters, and its downright silliness at times, I do wish the movie well and feel it will do well in mainstream America, especially with its high-profile cast and exciting race footage, which extends into the starting gate for some outstanding close-up shots. The story and the characters are compelling enough, and to the masses that’s all that will matter. The numerous flaws won’t even be noticed by the majority of the viewers. To those of you who do notice, you’ll have to deal with them in your own way.

Big Red through the lens

This first photo, the only one not taken by me, was shot by Ray Woolfe Jr. and appeared in his book “Secretariat.” In the photo are Secretariat, with Ron Turcotte up, Penny Tweedy, Lucien Laurin, groom Eddie Sweat (far left), and a nerdy-looking guy (me) with a God-awful 1970’s look. I don’t know who the other two people are.

The photo shows Secretariat on his way to the track for a one-mile workout prior to the Wood Memorial. Penny was unlike any high-profile Thoroughbred owner up to that point. No female owner had been seen on the public stage to that extent. Most were elderly matriarchs who kept a low profile, but Penny was attractive, sharp, extremely articulate, and knew how to deal with the public and the media. By the time Secretariat came around, she was already a public figure through Riva Ridge. It was Riva, not Secretariat who “saved the farm,” having been voted 2-year-old champion and winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. And to this day, Riva, who was a kind, gentle soul with lop ears, remains closest to Penny’s heart. This photo of Riva, with a feline admirer staring up at him, was taken the morning after he set a world’s record in the Brooklyn Handicap.

This next photo is Secretariat working a mile for the Wood Memorial. You can’t help but notice his gargantuan stride and the muscles rippling through his massive neck.

One of my favorite photos of Secretariat is this one taken after being saddled in the infield for the Preakness. Big Red stood motionless looking straight ahead. I was the only one standing on this side of him, and after taking a photo of him, he reacted to the clicking of the shutter by turning his head and staring right at me, or should I say through me? Those eyes peering through the blue and white blinkers make this one of the most special photos I’ve ever taken.


I wish I could find the photo I took of Sham, who was being saddled nearby. The unfortunate Sham was spectacular-looking in his own right, and on this day, his dark, dappled coat glistened like burnished copper. I remember being awestruck by him as well, and cannot remember ever seeing two better-looking horses at one time.

The next three photos were taken on a glorious fall morning at Belmont, as Secretariat and Riva Ridge prepared to work on the grass. Secretariat would run in the Man o’War Stakes and Riva the Woodward Stakes. But a sloppy track changed those plans. It was a terrible decision to run Big Red in the 1 ½-mile Woodward (in the slop) only two weeks after he set a world’s record going 1 1/8 miles in the Marlboro Cup, his first start since his illness in August. Laurin had to rush him to make the Marlboro Cup, and only after he worked five furlongs in :57 flat, “galloping out” six panels in 1:08 4/5, three days before the race was he declared fit and sharp enough. In today’s jargon, Secretariat was ripe for a major bounce. Even in defeat, he still ran the third fastest mile and a half in Belmont history, coming off a slow mile work on the grass. Amazingly, he came back only nine days later and set a new course record for 1 ½ miles in the Man o’War, beating Tentam by five lengths, with Big Spruce another 7 ½ length back in third.

At Claiborne Farm, Secretariat, whose favorite treat was Certs breath mints, brought over a large branch for me to pull out of his mouth.

And, finally, I was fortunate enough to catch Secretariat looking like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

(On Wednesday, the article on Secretariat’s grooms will appear on this blog)


Leave a Comment:


WOW, Steve,  To actually have touched Big Red, and see him in person,  Is just the best thing that you could ever do.  

There is only one Big Red...

12 Sep 2010 7:26 PM
Evelyn P

I appreciate your article on the great Secretariat.  I have just finished reading the book on him by William Nack. He was one smart and beautiful horse. And he was fast! I plan on seeing the movie and hope it does him credit to those who remember him. I was in college when he won the triple crown and saw the races on TV. Love your last picture of him.    

12 Sep 2010 7:31 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Thank you for the great pics of one of the greatest horses to ever step on a track! I never got to see him in person but I will never forget his Triple Crown races. Imagine how jealous I am of you being offered a gift of a stick from this magnificent creature. I would have had it framed along with the picture of him holding the stick!

I have conflicted feelings about seeing the Secretariat movie. My biggest fear is that Hollywood will take an amazing real story with plenty of it's own drama and excitement and turn it into a corny and implausible tale. I don't want a poor movie to cloud any of my memories of this amazing super star of the equine world.

12 Sep 2010 7:53 PM

I just don't think there  ever will be another horse as beautiful as Big Red. His red color,his muscular body,his mane everything was perfect.So I guess it would be fair to say he was my favorite of all time. He was also my sister's favorite and it is kind of weird this article to come out now also the movie because she will not get to see the movie or make the trip to Claiborne to see where he stood as she passed away this morning at 2 o'clock. I don't know maybe she will see him in heaven.

12 Sep 2010 7:53 PM

Mr. Haskin,

What do you make of Mark Gerard being Riva Ridge and Secretariat's veterinarian?

12 Sep 2010 7:55 PM
anita b

Thank you Steve. My family and I loved Secretariat. Belmont day, my daughter (age 8 years old then) and I watched; she saying "come on Secretariat" and me more quietly--please don't stumble, please don't stumble.

I hope the movie is a hit--and brings new people to the racetrack.

thanks again.

12 Sep 2010 7:57 PM

There are no words, that could fittingly discribe those wonderful shots of Big Red, and Riva. So I'll just say thank you for sharing, and leave it at that.

12 Sep 2010 7:59 PM

Awesome stuff Steve.  That Preakness photo is incredible.  Thanks for the piece and photos of my all-time favorite athlete.

12 Sep 2010 8:13 PM

Great piece Steve. My wife and I were fortunate enough to meet Secretariat at Claiborne in 1983. A groom brought him out and allowed us to pet him and take pictures. But the most amazing thing was that he ran a brush through Big Red's mane and made my wife a bracelet from the hair. We still have it today...Too bad I don't know how to clone.

12 Sep 2010 8:13 PM

Thanks so much for posting your own photos.  I especially love the one of Riva Ridge with his feline fan.  He was one of my all-time favorite horses, and he seems largely forgotten nowadays.  If not for the bad luck of a sloppy track on Preakness day, he would have been a Triple Crown winner.

12 Sep 2010 8:21 PM

Thank you so much for these pictures.  I've been reading up on him alot lately.  Bill Nack's book & currently the one about his groom.  These pictures are priceless.  How fortunate to have been there and seen him.

12 Sep 2010 8:34 PM
Bill Daly

I only wish everybody could have seen this magnificent horse in the flesh.  There will never be another like him.  That last picture is amazing.  What an image!

12 Sep 2010 8:35 PM

Hi Steve,  Thank you for the reprint of your article and look forward to the other installments.  I unfortunately did not have the privilege of seeing Secretariat in the flesh, but I watched him on TV - he was the most stunning horse and I was spellbound to the TV every time he appeared.  I have seen beautiful horses, but none as beautiful as him, with the exception of Zenyatta.  It is as though he has returned in female form!  I have just about every book ever written about him and I just can't get enough.  Thank you for posting the pictures, some of which I have not seen before.  I hope you kept the stick he offered you in friendship -:).  If Riva was the one who saved the farm, then why did Penny C. retire him to stud so early?  The story line was always that he was to save the farm and pay the inheritance taxes.

I know what to expect from the movie about Secretariat, as great liberties were taken in telling the story of Seabiscuit.  Namely that War Admiral was 18 hands at the withers when in fact he was an inch smaller than Seabiscuit.  Other facts were distorted as well by the film makers.  I was surprised that Hillenbrand agreed to some of the changes, as Seabiscuit's story was so rich and visual.  So, I'm ready for the distortions about Big Red.  The sad truth is, if the actual life of the horse and his human family was revealed they could potentially have a an Oscar winner and think of what that would have done for racing!  Seabiscuit came close by being nominated, but there were weaknesses in the film (my opinion) when they distorted the interesting facts.

Once again - thank you for being such a great writer and lover of our four footed beauties.

12 Sep 2010 8:38 PM
Robin from Maryland

Wonderful,Wonderful article and as always Great Pics.  I still remember the call - "He's moving like a tremendous machine."  Can still see The Belmont everytime I close my eyes.  Doubt there will never be another like him.  Several years ago was very fortunate to visit Claiborne and pay tribute at his grave.  Despite whatever flaws the movie may have, I plan to be the first one in line when it opens in my area.  May he Rest in Peace and continue to soar with The Angels.

12 Sep 2010 8:40 PM

Steve, do you think the movie captures the sense of who Secretariat was and why he was so special? Even if the details are not perfect, is the overall picture on target? You say you think the movie will do well, and that it's compelling enough, but I'm not sure whether you think it captures the essence of the story well enough to inspire the non-racing public.

12 Sep 2010 8:46 PM

What an amazing experience. You truely have had a dream job. Why don't you write a book from your insider prospective? Thanks for sharing!!!

12 Sep 2010 8:48 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for the great insight and photos. I've waited for years for the movie,hope it does well. Again,thanks!

12 Sep 2010 8:51 PM

Thank you so much for sharing your personal photos. I am still so in awe of him. What a magnificant animal. So be it if the movie took some liberties, they always do in any biography. If Penny approved it's OK with me. My biggest hope is that Big Red will once again revive America's interest in TB racing. What a gift that would be!

12 Sep 2010 8:54 PM

Thank you Steve for a great article. Although I wasn't fortunate to have seen Secretariat in person. However, when he did run. I owned the TV for the duration of the race. IMO, there have been some really great horses who have come and gone since Secretariat left his mark. But, none have come close to his equal. As for the movie. I'm having mixed thoughts about it. A part of me wants to see it out of respect to his honor. The other part wants to remember him the way I remember him and not based on a fluffed up movie script.  

12 Sep 2010 8:56 PM

Rita- I am so sorry about your sister.  I hope she didn't suffer and I hope her faith stayed strong.

Steve- thank you so much for the essay and the pictures.   Am I the only one who doesn't watch racing movies because I notice all the liberties taken with the truth?   I couldn't make it all the way through "Seabiscuit" because I couldn't not notice the inconsistencies, etc.   And why would anyone change a single thing about Secretariat's story anyway, when the truth was wonderful without embellishing?

12 Sep 2010 9:11 PM

Rita, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your sister.  But now she can go visit Big Red anytime she wants.

I will definitely go see the movie, but I will be braced for the "wrong" notes.  I am so familiar with Secretariat's story, and watched his three year old season (the races that were televised, anyway) enthralled, so those "wrong" notes are going to jar.  But I'm going to see it anyway.  

12 Sep 2010 9:20 PM

Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos, Steve!  I was only 4 when Secretariat won the Triple Crown, so my only knowledge of him comes from books.  I deliberately didn't consult any of them to refresh my memory before seeing the movie last week, and really enjoyed it.  Had I been clearer on the details of the real story, I might not have. Non racing fans will enjoy the film; die hard racing fans will have to take it with a grain of salt and remember that the movie is "inspired by" Bill Nack's book.  Treat it like fiction and you will enjoy it.  Go in thinking it'll be a documentary and you'll be disappointed.

12 Sep 2010 9:20 PM


I'm so sorry to hear about your sister.  I bet she does get to enjoy him, at least from time to time, in Heaven.

12 Sep 2010 9:30 PM
John T

As I like most observers of Secretariat live during his lifetime,it is quite easy to forget

about horses who ran before we were

born.That is why I always do the best I can about reading of thoroughbred horses before my time.

And there is no question about it

there was indeed amother big red in Mam O War.Without getting into  any debate about the best big red I

am just so glad both of them came along when they did giving lot,s of

pleasure to thousands of racegoers

during their respective era,s

One thing I am proud of though,both big red,s had there last race in Canada,the first big red in the Kenilworth Gold Cup at

Kenilworth Park just across the Detroit river in Windsor when he beat the first American Triple Crown winner Sir Barton on Oct 12th 1920.The second big red had his last race in the Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct.28th 1973 and I am happy to say I was there to watch him.''It Was A Day I Shall Never Forget''.

12 Sep 2010 9:30 PM

What a gift those pics are! Thank you so much. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Secretariat at Keeneland when, as a two year old, he accompanied his "big brother", Riva Ridge, there. I'll never forget it. Thanks SO much for sharing!!!!!!

12 Sep 2010 9:31 PM

I was 14 when my Dad brought me out to the new Belmont building(only 4 years) back in 1973 to see him win the "Race".  I have it on DVD, and it still makes me cry.................

He was one of my ALL TIME Heroes.  I've Assisted in Training many since, but no one can ever compare; not even Cigar!!

12 Sep 2010 9:47 PM

Absolutely loved your article and photos.  I was at Big Red's Derby and will never forget his Triple Crown. Curious about the movie but not sure I will see it.

Thanks for sharing, Steve.

12 Sep 2010 9:52 PM

What a lucky man you are! I love the blinkers pic too. I just read The Horse God Built(wonderful!)My husband bought me the whole Thoroughbred Legends series for my birthday!! I am reading John Henry now and loving it. I never knew about his horrible early life. Do you think there is any way this series will be added to in the future? That would be awesome! My only disappointment was that some were paperback, would've been so much nicer if whole set was hardback. I also just got Secretariat by Nack and can't wait to read it. I'm in horse book heaven right now.I will for sure see the movie.(I'll probably miss most of the "flaws") Thanks for all you do, you are very much appreciated. Condolences for your loss Rita, she just might have already seen Big Red:)

12 Sep 2010 10:00 PM

Steve -

I am stunned by your photographs.  Thank you for sharing them.  I love them all, and am left breathless at his workout for the Wood, the Preakness look, the stick gift, and (maybe you mean) Phoenix rising from the ashes.  I love his beautiful socks and the one leg with no white.  What I love the most is that you shared these with us.  Thank you so much.

12 Sep 2010 10:01 PM

Rita - I am so sorry to hear about your sister.  I hope she's touring the farms now.

12 Sep 2010 10:04 PM

Wow Steve, a double threat! A great writer and a wonderful photographer too. Thanks for the great memories and pixs.

12 Sep 2010 10:14 PM
Steve Haskin

As to whether the movie does Secretariat justice, that's why posted these and titled it "The Real Secretariat." No movie can capture the original, so I can't fault the movie for the stand-ins. They did the best they could. Regarding the liberties taken, anyone who was either around back then or even just a student of racing now, you better go in with the knowledge that there are some really really dumb scenes in the movie, and some poor character portrayals (Laurin and Pancho Martin). If you accept that and go for the race footage, the great close-up scenes in the starting gate, and Diane Lane, you should be entertained.

As for seeing Keeneland in the trailer, you aint seen nothin' yet. Keeneland is used for Belmont Park, and they didnt even attempt to hide the fact that it was Keeneland, so that ruined the Belmont Stakes for me, as did the inane choice of song they played during the stretch run through the end of the movie. I really do want the movie to do well for racing's sake, so I don't want to say too many bad things about it. Just go prepared.

12 Sep 2010 10:20 PM
Barbara W

Thank you so much, Steve, for these stunning pictures. I only saw him on tv, but we did manage to visit his grave. The biggest problem for me with the movie is the question of how they could possibly get horses to play him that look like him. He was one of a kind, as Zenyatta is today.

Rita, please accept my sympathy on the loss of your sister. I do hope to see Big Red (both of them) in Heaven.

12 Sep 2010 10:20 PM
Mike Relva


Im very sorry.

12 Sep 2010 10:24 PM
Linda Edwards


I would LOVE to purchase a copy of the print that you have with Secretariat standing in the saddleing area before the Preakness. aka the photo in this article. Please get in touch with me.

thank you      

12 Sep 2010 10:32 PM

God is only gone to build one big red horse for us to enjoy. Secretariat is that one and only one horse. Love Big Red!!!!!

12 Sep 2010 10:34 PM
Steve Haskin

Julie O, there are as many liberties taken in Secretariat as there were in Seabiscuit. Ironically, after seeing Seabiscuit at the premiere in Louisville, I spoke to Penny outside the theater and she kept complaining how many liberties were taken and how much she didnt care for the movie. Well, Penny, welcome to Hollywood :)

As I said, I do hope the movie is a success.

Nancy, this wasn't a reprint. The Grooms story on Wednesday will be the reprint. I hope you enjoy it. It's one of my favorite features I've ever written.

Rondo, publishers arent easy to come by these days.

Flounder, that is a great memento for sure.

Secretariat had so much personality, but, remember, Penny's heart still belongs to Riva Ridge, who unfortunately does not exist in the movie, because it was he who saved Meadow Stud. Acknowledging Riva meant there was no movie. Riva was as kind and gentle a horse as I've ever been around, even as a stallion.

MKR, I think Secretariat is really Cinzano.

12 Sep 2010 10:34 PM

i remember i got see secretariat at claiborne in june of 1981. it was my 8th grade graduation. claiborns #1 stallion barn was amazing at the time..sec,riva, bid, nijinsky tom rolfe etc. had my pic taken next to secretariat..still have it but wouldnt dare show it,,man was a i dorky 13 yr old then,lol. ahh, the good ole days

12 Sep 2010 10:39 PM
Steve Haskin

Here is an interesting story about the horses used to play Secretariat. Bob Baffert had a horse he owned who everyone told him was a dead-ringer for Secretariat. The director saw the video of him and asked Baffert to send him to Kentucky. By the time Baffert got around to it, it was too late; all the parts had been cast already. The name of that horse was Haskin. My big claim to fame gone.

Btw, I'm glad no one is commenting on that nerdy photo of me walking with Secretariat in the first photo. How 1970s do I look?

Linda, are you on Facebook? If you are, feel free to go to my photo album and download whichever photo you want.

12 Sep 2010 10:42 PM
christy tate

thanks for sharing your photos of an awesome horse, the best race horse of the twentieth century for sure. as for the movie, it's not meant to be a documentary, so of course it's not going to be accurate,it'll probally be melodramatic, but that's how disney movies are, they made for families to escape from the stress of life for two hours.

12 Sep 2010 10:46 PM
Outlaw Enterprises


Unfortunately, I was born the year of his Triple Crown wins, and a few months after the Belmont at that.  The only way I get to enjoy the older greats is through the videos and pictures.  Seeing some of the pics that haven't been reprinted a bazillion times make the horses seem more personal.

Thanks for the reprint of the article and thanks for sharing some of the other greats.  Sometimes people forget that there were other incredible horses that ran in the early 70s beside Big Red.

12 Sep 2010 10:55 PM

Hey Steve,  NOt giving your age away,  but I want to ask you a question?    At what age did you start having a passion for horses and horse racing?   and what was the very first race horse you saw in person?  

12 Sep 2010 11:03 PM

I hope this movie is not as bad as Seabiscuit. The book is gritty, real and depicts race track life vividly. Tobey Mcquire as Red Pollard? What could be worse...

a Secretariat movie by Disney, that's what.

If you really want the story, read William Nack's lyrical and rich account of the great Big Red.

12 Sep 2010 11:05 PM
Laura P

Wonderful photos; thanks, Steve.  I might have to join Facebook just to download them!

12 Sep 2010 11:11 PM

Wow, Steve!  Thank you so much for the heads up about the movie.  I'd already figured that they would be taking a lot of liberties with it, considering they cast John Malcovich as Lucien Lauren which makes no sense at all, and I'd heard there was nothing about Riva Ridge in it.  Any way....thank you for the warning.  I'm sure I'll still go see it just for the racing scenes and to see how they do it, but with skepticism in tow.  However, if the general public is drawn to the movie and considers learning about racing or visiting a track, well that would be wonderful, and we will all be grateful for that.

The first photo with the 70's style; well, come on, Steve, those of us of that age all looked like that or the female version, back in those days.  It is what it was, so don't let Mandy beat you up over it any more.  :)  For that period of time, we were right in style, so it's nothing to hide from now.  Of course, if you were still going around like that...hmmm...we might have some questions.  At any rate, thank you for sharing your wonderful photographs of the beautiful horses for those of us who did not get to experience them.  I am forever in your debt for your generosity.

To Rita, I am so sorry about your sister.  I'm sure she is meeting Secretariat and all the other great ones and enjoying them running free from pain.



12 Sep 2010 11:12 PM
Margaret L

I still feel the photo of Seretariat (winning at 31 lengths)one of the most incredible in racing history... Amazing.  Thank you for your insight and photos... Priceless.  I'm afraid I was disappointed in the SeaBiscuit film... Why is it so difficult to make realistic movies about TB racing???

12 Sep 2010 11:12 PM

Thank you so much, Steve, for the story and the photos.  All were wonderful.  June 9 is my birthday and Secretariat gave me the greatest gift I will ever receive. I'll never forget watching my dream come true as he ran into immortality that day.  In 1977 I was supposed to be in the hospital having cancer cut out of me but I put it off because I had an invitation to Claiborne.  I met Riva and Secretariat and it was unforgettable.  Riva was just as you describe. He was so gentle and so funny.  Secretariat allowed me to pet him and his handler gave me a lock of his mane, too.  I'm seeing the movie soon and I will do my best to simply enjoy it and not be so annoyed as I was at hearing about an 18 hand War Admiral during "Seabiscuit."  And I simply love that photo of Secretariat bringing you a tree branch.

Rita, I'm so sorry about your sister, too.

12 Sep 2010 11:27 PM
Marianna Haun

Steve...I hope your words don't keep people from going to see the movie. As Penny has said, it is not a documentary, it is a Disney movie. And it is one that lovingly remembers a great horse and celebrates the life of a fascinating woman who followed her father's dream and her own and blazed a trail for women in the old boys club of the sport of kings. I saw Secretariat and got to kiss him on the nose and thank him for the Belmont Stakes race. Ir is one of my most treasured memories. I have spent the past 18 years researching him and his great heart and enjoying the friendship of Penny. She is sorry that Riva got left out of the movie but it helped the narrative of the story so she understood that it was Hollywood and not a news broadcast. In a perfect world, all of her story would have been told but time and money stop for no one. She is watching the movie tonight in Denver with 400 friends. It is the second time she has seen it and she likes the movie and hopes it will help bring more fans to the races. If people would just watch the story unfold with their hearts and not be so critical of the small details, it will be a stirring experience. The world is negative enough without all the nit picking. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing it here in Lexington, even if I have to go in my wheel chair and with my oxygen tank. Marianna Haun  

12 Sep 2010 11:27 PM

My favorite is next-to-last, the great Secretariat bringing you a stick to play with.  How endearing!


Rita, please accept condolences on the loss of your sister.  Hugs to you.

12 Sep 2010 11:27 PM
Paula Higgins

Rita, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister this morning. I can only imagine how you feel. Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

Steve, these pictures and this piece are simply wonderful. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. As for your 70's look, I think you look pretty cute. Not too shabby at all.

My favorite picture of Secretariat is the one with the stick. Is that hilarious or what?! He was the most amazing horse and Penny Chenery is the most amazing woman. She has an incredible personality and she was a strong woman in a man's game. I just loved that about her. Riva Ridge was very special too and is not forgotten.

12 Sep 2010 11:32 PM

Rita, I am so sorry for your loss.

Steve, a thousand thanks.

12 Sep 2010 11:41 PM

I am always glad to see new photos of Secretariat and Riva Ridge. I loved Riva too and I think it's sad that he has faded so far into the background. A friend of mine in ND has a grandson of Riva's. He looks like his Grandaddy. I wish you could have gotten the shot you wanted to take of Sham on Preakness day '73 too. He was another exceptional racehorse. I never would have guessed that it was you walking with Penny, Secretariat, and crew to the track in the first photo. You look a little like Gabe Kaplan. Welcome back!  

12 Sep 2010 11:48 PM
Debbie Bernhard

Rita, i am so sorry about your sister.  now she will get to see all of those wonderful horses: secretariat, ruffian, barbaro...

Steve, loved the pics.  i was 9 when i saw him and his triple crown.  i am still in awe everytime i see his belmont.  he was the greatest.  he and zenyatta would have made beautiful babies :)

13 Sep 2010 12:02 AM

Mr. Haskin, thank you for your article and for your photos!  I was never up close to Secretariat, but I did see him win the Preakness and that was such an absolute thrill.  I will never forget that day, never!  What a trip down memory lane you have give me.

13 Sep 2010 12:21 AM

Steve - in the 1970's photo, if that is you with the camera, are you wearing...BELL-BOTTOMS?

13 Sep 2010 12:51 AM

thanks so much for sharing these fotos and your memories.

foolish pleasure and i share the same birthday, so i never got to see secretariat run in real life; although his portrait has hung in my parent's house since about 1975--so he has always seemed apart of my life in a weird way...they bought a painting of foolish pleasure at the same time too, for me, on account of our birthdays. it hung beside big red's for decades till i asked if i could have it a year ago. it doesn't match anything i own, but i really wanted it anyway.

i have found that showing anyone big red's belmont, even if they know and care nothing about horse racing, has a profound effect on them. those 2 minutes and 24 seconds are the best "movie" he could ever have--they say it all, really. i do plan to see the movie.

thanks again

13 Sep 2010 1:06 AM
Dino Romano

I've seen the "Secretariat" movie trailers and they are depressing.  

A documentary style drama would have been more appropriate given all the new and film footage available.  Hollywood can't make a horse or dog movie without a truck load of "schmaltz."  

13 Sep 2010 1:20 AM

Steve, thank you so much for this, there is nothing I would have liked more than to see Big Red in person, but I never did. I was actually planning a trip East and go to Claiborne Farm to visit my hero, but he died on my birthday the year before I had planned to go, and I was just devastated. I have a friend who was too young to have remembered what a superstar he was, so I had her watch the live video of Zenyaatta winning No. 18 to get an idea of what it was like when he stepped on the track.  

Of course I will see the movie, but I will definitely have to brace myself for the "Disneyfication" factor. At least the most unbelievable part will be the one that's true - 31 lengths, baby!

13 Sep 2010 1:30 AM
Zen's Auntie

You are a class act Mr Haskin and very trendy looking in that 70's way - How Lucky we are to have you around to share these hands on memories and awesome pictures.  

I was a young girl of 9 when Sham and Big Red filled my heart with renewed joy of racing.  I have to admit I openly wanted to see Sham win in each race of the TC, I just LOVED him - King of the Wind and all.  

I was so blown away by the Belmont I have NEVER since seen any horse so CRUSHING in dominating good  peers I will never forget watching that race. I was balling and yelling "look at him go just look at him go!!"

As for the Movie whatever I hope it makes more people interested in racing - its never as good as the book and thats never as good as being there, but hearing it from you is nearly as good as being there so bring on part 2!!

13 Sep 2010 1:53 AM
Abbie Knowles

Hi Steve and everyone!

Thanks so much for the wonderful article and photos of Secretariat.  Particularly loved the last two but they are all great!

I can't wait to see the movie even if it is lacking in some  respects.  Have you any  idea when it will be out in the UK?  I realise it will probably be a while after it has been released in the USA.  But I do so hope that because it is a Disney film we will get to see it over here!

Rita I too am so sorry to hear about your sister but like everyone else on this blog I am sure she is happy in Heaven and has seen Secretariat in person!

I love the photo of Riva Ridge too!

Many thanks again Steve and also to all on this blog site.  Most interesting reading!

God Bless you all


13 Sep 2010 2:18 AM
The Deacon

Hey Steve most of us over 60 guys all looked like that back in the day. As for the movie, I will see it, if for no other reason then to enjoy the racing scenes, and of course Diane Lane. Loved her in Streets of Fire.

As I have said many times, Secretariat was never one of my favorites. Being from out west, many of us were big fans of Sham. When "Big Red" broke his heart in the Derby and the Preakness, we were heart broken. Sham was only a shadow of himself in the Belmont Stakes. Nevertheless, I do admire greatness and "Big Red" was certainly one of the all time greats. He turned in what is perhaps the single greatest horse racing performance of all time by winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lenghts in world record time.

I also think Steve that Hollywood would have been better served if they would have asked you to use some of your photos for their movie. You were there, you witnessed greatness, they needed that perspective and insight...........

13 Sep 2010 2:33 AM


13 Sep 2010 3:35 AM

Darn you, Steve!  You made me cry - which is super easy when we're talking about this horse.  Great photos!  Lucky man!  I still well remember being 13 and practically sobbing during his turn for home in the Belmont (poorly paraphased, but "Secretariat is widening, now!  He's moving like a tremendous machine! He's all alone!...")  Gets me every time.  Thanks for this great blog, Steve!

13 Sep 2010 4:18 AM

It's a Disney movie...after all the liberties they've taken with other historical happenings, I'm well prepared..;-)

I wish you could find the Sham picture, he is a couraeous story in his own right.

Rita, I'm very sorry for your loss, my sisters are my best buddies.♥

13 Sep 2010 6:08 AM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for your article and photos.  Thank you for mentioning Sham.  

I was 12 when Secretariat won the triple crown.  I carried newspapers to support my own horse.  Every day when I finished my paper route I'd sit down and search the sports pages for Thoroughbred Racing news.  There were no local race tracks in Minnesota then.  The only races I got to watch were the televised races.  

I was smitten by Sham, he was so stunning.  I will never forget Sham's valiant efforts against Secretariat.  I will never forget Sham and Secretariat battling in the Belmont.  My little girl heart soared as Sham and Secretariat locked eye to eye in the beginning of the Belmont, only to be crushed as Secretariat moved away from Sham, and the field "like a tremendous machine."  It has been said that champions are made by the competition they face.  

It wasn't until many years later that I was able to appreciate Secretariat's stature.  One of my favorite images of Secretariat is when he was coming around the turn into the stretch at Woodbine, the steam coming from his nostrils in the cool moist weather, he truly looked like a "tremendous machine" in the flesh.

I have been waiting for the movie for a long time.  I always forgive Hollywood for taking liberties. I know the true story.  I always read the book before I see the movie.  I have read the books on Secretariat, and Eddie Sweat and the one book about Sham.

Thanks again for a look at Secretariat through your camera.

13 Sep 2010 6:20 AM

Oh Steve,

How can we all thank you enough for such photography, and such words about the beloved Secretariat?

I plan to visit your facebook page as well, to see more photos.

My favorite: the last shot. Incredible!

I never managed to see him. I had the opportunity to go to the Derby that year, but passed it up, stupid me. I was a working student in Florida, and didn't feel I could take the time off from work.

Like much in life, that is one of my biggest regrets.

So, your commentary, your photos are so valuable.

I, also, will be first in line to buy the DVD.

13 Sep 2010 6:36 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and remembrances of Secretariat.  I am looking forward to the movie and I too hope it does well.  We need to honor our equine heroes every chance we get.

13 Sep 2010 7:21 AM

Thanks, Steve, for the great article and pics of my hero, Secretariat.  The only photo I had seen before was the one Ray Woolfe took of him and that's only because I have TWO Secretariat books!  LOL!  I had the pleasure of seeing Secretariat three times in my life at Claiborne.  He was all everybody said he'd be and more.  I even told my mother, upon our visit to Claiborne in June 1989, what a magnificent specimen he was.  She agreed and felt my pain four months later when he was gone.  I've met Penny Chenery, the late Jim Gaffney and some Secretariat fans throughout the years.  Secretariat is a horse that comes along once in a lifetime.  I'm glad he came during my lifetime.

13 Sep 2010 7:34 AM
Ann in Lexington (aka Pedigree Ann)

I was in the throes of my first great love, for His Felinity Cougar II, in 1973 and therefore resented Secretariat immensely. On the very afternoon that The Great Feline One became the first TB not foaled in North America to earn $1 million, Secretariat went out and sliced 4/5 off of the Kentucky Derby record. He stole my darling's thunder, big time. Do any of you understand the amount of sustained excellence it took to earn $1 million in those days running only in races for older horses? (And made harder after he was disqualified from his facile win in the Woodward back in '71. Oh, for a couple of Del Mar stewards in the box!) Coug had been among the top 5 3yos in Chile, several stakes wins include a soon-to-be G1 but earned less than $20K in conversion for that. But I digress.

As a Left Coaster at the time, I was big for Sham in that Triple Crown. It wasn't until the Belmont that I started to really appreciate Secretariat's ability. But I still smarted for the injustice to The Big Cat.

13 Sep 2010 7:41 AM

Steve-great pictures.  Big Red will ALWAYS be the greatest and number 1 in my heart.  I saw him at Claiborne shorted after he retired.  I had on a stocking cap with a red tassle on top.  He came over to the fence and playfully nipped at the tassle, much to the horror of my mother.  I, of course, loved it!

13 Sep 2010 7:42 AM

Your pictures are beautiful, and what great memories!  Looking forward to the Grooms Story.  (P.S.  Don't worry, none of us looked good in '70s clothes!)

13 Sep 2010 7:44 AM
Mamma Olie

Beautiful Photos Steve. Thank you for sharing. Like so many, I was witness to Big Red only via the TV, but to this day, I well up in tears with every re-run of every race.........but Oh My, what the Belmont does to me. I am not sure I will be able to go to a public theater to watch this film. I may just have to wait and do my blubbering in private, when it comes out on DVD.

So sorry for your loss Fuzzy Corgi. Rest assured that your Sister has already been introduced to the Great Secretariat, on the other side. She can watch the movie from there if she wishes too.

13 Sep 2010 7:57 AM

Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures and your memories of Secretariat. I was 10 when he ran and I regret that I never saw him in person.

In Bill Nack's book there is much mention on Riva and what a kind and talented horse he was. It's a shame he never really got his due.

13 Sep 2010 8:01 AM
Fran Loszynski

Oh my gosh Steve what great pictures of Secretariat. I've heard mixed reviews also but you know what I figure Steve any representation of horseracing is good to give the public a little knowledge and maybe get a few more fans into our circle of the sport of kings, hopefully they will like the movie. Secretariat deserves that honor.

13 Sep 2010 8:19 AM

Great piece Steve.  Like you I was at the Preakness on that day and was in awe of what a magnificant animal Big Red was, what a race and of course Sham was no match for the great one.  I was so sure that he had broken the track record but hey what do I know.  I for one will never forget him.

13 Sep 2010 8:26 AM

If the movie results in young viewers developing a passion for racing and love of thoroughbreds like Steve and the rest of us have...then it must be considered a success. HB0 are the experts when it comes to docu-drama type movies so I had hoped they would handle this project, but even with the liberties mentioned, the message that Secretariat was a rare animal of special greatness comes through.

13 Sep 2010 8:32 AM

Thanks for another great article, Steve. Every once in a while, whether we know we need it or not, you give us a "shot" of Secretariat. I followed him during his 2yr old season and soaked up every piece of info about him as he came into his year of greatness - 1973. I was a young mother, holding my baby boy on my lap when Big Red galloped into history with his amazing Belmont Stakes. I envy your being able to actually be in his presence. I did get to walk along the path that he trod and to pay my respects in that historical graveyard. I plan to go to see the movie, but as you say, I will be prepared. Thanks for the great photos. I will add this entire piece (including the comments) to my huge book on Secretariat. I have every single book written about him, including the kids' book, "I Rode the Red Horse" by Barbara M. Libby. Ron Turcotte contributed to the book and my grandkids love it when I read it to them and throw in a lot of Chic Anderson's memorable additions to his call of the race. Thanks again, Steve. I look forward to Wednesday's reprinted article. Oh, and BTW, you didn't look dorky to us, because we're of the same vintage!

13 Sep 2010 8:34 AM
Bob Hope

some good pix and copy here!  He didn't stop there as

he traveled to Toronto and won the Canadian INternation Championship at a mile and five furlongs against one of the largest fields ever to fill against him!

Another whole story to be told!

13 Sep 2010 8:58 AM

Thanks for the great pictures. He was such an awesome horse.I had the privilege of seeing and petting him at Claiborne in 1988. He was so tender and kind hearted. It was evident he liked people. When he died 13 months later I really felt a heavy heart as the memories were still so fresh. I treasure the lock of hair that his groom gave me. I will see the movie and hope it brings fans to the track.

13 Sep 2010 9:24 AM
Dick Hering

Steve, we spoke several times on the phone years ago .  We have a mutual acquaintance in Richard Aller.  We should get Richard's opinion of even the idea of making this movie, of course you could not print it.

From every thing I've read it sounds the movie should be titled Penny Tweetie.

13 Sep 2010 9:25 AM
Vin C

Great article Steve. Secretariat was the greatest horse I've ever seen, his performance in the Belmont was properly the greatest performance by any athlete ever, I still get a tear in my eye when I here Chick Anderson say (Secretariat in moving like a tremendous machine).Thanks for sharing you photos.

13 Sep 2010 9:29 AM

Well done AGAIN, Steve, and many thanks for sharing your stories and photos.

I, along with several other commentors, am reading William Nack's book, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  His story of Secretariat is so compelling that it makes me wonder why Hollywood doesn't see the beauty that would be in the telling of it as it really happened, and including as much real film footage as exists.  They seem to believe that it wouldn't sell as well, but I think differently.  As a student of the history of horseracing, I would naturally prefer the real story.  Nevertheless, I will dutifully see the film, and hope for the best.

13 Sep 2010 9:30 AM

Steve thanks for the great photo's of Big Red. I am a racing lover small owner and breeder for many years, my 2 favorite horses were Kelso and Big Red. I was at Belmont with with father and to ths day get chills when I see that the replay of his Belmont stakes win. Several years after Red's retirement my wife and I did a tour of the Kentucky farms and visted Big Red in his paddock, he came to the fence and took a mint and then preceded to take a bite out of my wind breaker (I still have that wind breaker with the hole in it to mark the memory. Thank you for your excellent work I always enjoy reading your blog an listening to you on "At the Races" with the other "Steve".

13 Sep 2010 9:30 AM
Steve Haskin

In the story, I mentioned Riva winning the Derby and Preakness, which has since been corrected. See, we all screw up and have brain lapses. Sorry about that. Dumb.

Sodapopkid, not until I was 20, believe it or not. It was horses and racing that saved me from a life on Wall Street and openbed a whole new world for me. First horses I saw in person were Damascus and Dr. Fager.

Marianna, I did tell everyone to see the movie. I just prepared them for the numerous flaws and stated most people wont even notice them. No one was expecting to see a documentary. I've always felt the best way to tell a story of a horse in a movie is through animation, considering the incredible technology they have now. That can actually recreate real events, close to the way it really happened and really looked.

Rita, very sorry for your loss.

Merlin, those arent bell bottoms, I guess theyre just big pants

Dawn and Rachel, I'm sorry about the way Sham was portrayed in the movie, and Frank Martin as well. I guess movies always need a villain, and Disney is famous for its villains.

Mr. Hope, the documentary on "Secretariat's Last Race" in Canada was one of the best I've ever seen. I still watch it.


13 Sep 2010 10:10 AM

Steve, I LOVE your photographs.  They bring both Secretariat & Riva Ridge (who doesn't get the credit he deserves) to life for us again.  I cringe when I see the horse used for the trailer of the movie.  Makes Riva Ridge look stout.  

Anyway, wasn't it the Phoenix that rose from its ashes, not Pegasus?  Either way, they both had wings, just like Big Red!

13 Sep 2010 10:25 AM
Love 'em all!

What a wonderful Monday morning surprise!  Oh my gosh! Secretariat.

Mr. Haskin, thank you for sharing such marvelous pics of my very favorite! The last pic is absolutely a masterpiece!

I was 32 yrs. old when Secretariat won the TC and one of his biggest TV fans.  I remember that '73 Belmont like it happened yesterday.  It was then and is today, THE most thrilling race of my lifetime.  

Can't wait to see the movie ... will carry a big box of tissues with me.  I'll make a fool of myself but who cares!  Silly stuff and all; I'll love every minute of it.

So looking forward to Wednesday's treat with the reprint.  Again, a big thank you!  

Rita, my sympathies to you and your family.  

13 Sep 2010 10:36 AM

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses.  ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

Rita, I am as sure that your sister is in Horse Heaven as much as I am sure that Secretariat is. Keep her memory burning in your heart.

Steve, what a beautiful eye you have for these horses! Just really, really great pictures of Secretariat's character. The one's of him & Riva are treasures - two magnificent hearts! LOVE the shot of the Wood Memorial work. What a MAN!  & then the pic of him offering you a stick brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the playful children that I used to groom when I was at the track.

As far as the film goes, yes. I will no doubt laugh at the "liberties" taken in the making of this movie, just as I did in Seabiscuit. Nevertheless, I adore Seabiscuit for it's fanciful, dreamy vision of horseracing. The visions that I had of it as a young girl growing up. The dreamy, silly scenarios that any American in love with horses might conjure up about having a great one like either of these guys in their midst. I believe that America will love this movie. I believe that I will love this movie & it looks like the cinematography is to die for, despite Keenland's presence in the Belmont! (What were they thinking???) Loved the glimpses that you gave us in And They're Off! I am prepared to be wooed again by Secretariat's life & those around him, no matter how cartoony!

Thanks so much for the REAL deal here on this page. & Steve, nice duds there in that picture.....

Peace out!

13 Sep 2010 10:48 AM
Karen in Texas

Thanks so much for the photos of Secretariat and his "family" from your personal files! Although I will probably go to see the movie, I became skeptical of its veracity when the casting for Lucien Laurin was announced. Secretariat is a part of American history and was truly "larger than life"--no adjustments should have been necessary to tell the story--he and Riva Ridge together were a part of the Meadow Stable and Chenery history. Again, thanks for the pictures.

13 Sep 2010 11:08 AM

I love your stories Steve.  You always manage to bring the past back into the present in such a way that they all seem as one.  I was fortunate to be at Secretariat’s final race at Woodbine.  I was in Toronto at the time and I’ll never forget the excitement when it was confirmed that he would race in the International.  And what a powerful performance.  Kennedy Road, a Canadian Bred and Queen’s Plate winner who campaigned extensively in California and held his own against the likes of Quack and Cougar II, came back to contest the race and actually opened up a sizeable lead early on.  Eddie Maple who was filling in for Ron Turcotte was very patient to the point that a lot of people began to think upset.  However, when the time came and Maple let Secretariat loose it was not contest.  He took off and opened up a huge lead and literally coasted under the wire in one of the most powerful turf performances, N/A or European, I have ever seen.  If anything, I think Secretariat was even better on turf than dirt.  He was just so good.

I still have a mint condition winning ticket from the race.  In those days they had separate windows for win, place and show bets as well as cash.  In fact, if you wanted to make an across-the-board bet you had to go to three different windows.  The win tickets were blue and in honor of having Secretariat run his final race at Woodbine the Jockey Club printed Big Red on the ticket.  I’m a huge fan of racing and have been for years.  That was the only time I saw Big Red in person, but I can honestly say that I saw the greatest, if not at least the second greatest horse of all time.

13 Sep 2010 11:12 AM

Thanks for the memories, Steve. I too, hope the movie is a big success. And as you say, we will all deal with the stuff that may be less than accurate. It's funny, I have a similar picture of him in that "sitting "pose, in the paddock at Claiborne. And I thought I was the only one that got that! Guess he liked to do that.Being at his Belmont still remains the highest point of my horseracing life. It supercedes being in the winner's circle many times,even with my own horses. Again, great piece. I look forward to the second part.

13 Sep 2010 11:13 AM

Steve: Thank you for the never seen before photos. They are AWESOME! Secretariat will always be my favorite racehorse, FOREVER :) I was 15 years old in 1973 & I will never forget watching Secretariat win the Derby, Preakness & Belmont Stakes  on TV. Keep the "Big Red" flame burning !!

13 Sep 2010 11:18 AM
Smoking Baby

 OK...I've finally got the lump in my throat under control so I can type this.  Thank you for the pics Steve.  I got to visit both Secretariat and Riva Ridge at Claiborne in the summer of 1980.  They led Secretariat out and as soon as he heard the first pic being snapped he visibly puffed up and posed like he knew what it was all about.  I've never seen anything like it before or since.  I'm almost afraid to go see the movie.  I hope they did him justice.

13 Sep 2010 11:22 AM
Smoking Baby

 I'm sure there will be flaws in the movie.  I remember watching Seabiscuit (great movie) with a buddy of mine who had just been to Santa Anita with me.  He noticed the statue of Seabiscuit in the walking ring and said "I'm betting that statue wasn't there when Seabiscuit was running."  I really LOVED Seabiscuit.  I'm hoping the Secretariat movie is at least almost as good.

13 Sep 2010 11:27 AM
Steve Jordan

For the reasons you have mentioned, I hope the movie works.  Thanks again for being factual, and not rewriting history. Enjoyed the photos immensely.

13 Sep 2010 11:41 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for the great photos of  Riva Ridge.  At age nine, I started reading about racing and Riva won many races that year, which was his championship two-year-old year. When he went on to win the Derby so easily, I decided that it was a very simple thing to pick the Derby winner.  

Then Secretariat came along and I got very upset over the fact that Riva was always in his shadow.  

I have a lovely granddaughter of dear Riva and she is also a kind a gentle soul.  I call her Miss Penny in honor of the fact that Riva was the one closest to Penny Chenery's heart.

13 Sep 2010 11:42 AM

Although I've never read the book "The Horse God Built" by Lawrence Scanlan, when I look at your wonderful photos of Big Red, I can only conclude that he was indeed a the masterstroke of equine creation... I especially like the photo of Secretariat presenting you a stick - he looks like a big, playful puppy dog! Big Red won the Triple Crown the year I was born; so, I never saw him in person... Mr Haskin, thank you very much for sharing this photo essay with us!!

13 Sep 2010 11:43 AM
steve from st louis

Steve Haskin: You said that racing saved you from a life on Wall Street. I guess that was me going in the other direction. Racing prepared me for a career on Wall Street. I spent seven years covering horse racing before moving to Wall Street.

So many more similarities than differences. Many successful Wall Streeters have additional sizable  investments on the backstretch and in the breeding shed.

Why is it Steve, when I look at your Secretariat photos, and remember that animal, it gets hard for me to swallow?

13 Sep 2010 11:54 AM

Mr. Haskin,

What "nerdy-looking guy"? All I see is a cool lookin' dude, man!

Great pictures, thank you! My favorite? The one with the stick of course. It shows a very playful side of the Great One, a real horse, not just an icon. Very endearing.

I look forward to the movie. I'll ignore all the liberties as I did with Seabiscuit. Hope it ignites a fire in some people's heart.

Rita- I'm sorry for your loss. May your sister rest in peace and may you find comfort in your memories of her.

13 Sep 2010 12:00 PM

On a crisp, sunny winter's day in 1973 LA, wife and I left work early and met as we usually did at Santa Anita for a few late races. We had heard of this awesome horse, Sham, who would be running his first race as a 3 year old and wanted to see it. Sham was indeed awesome, both to look at and in his race that day. As we walked back through the tunnel to the paddock, we were saying to one another that we had seen a really exciting horse, and that he would be strong in the Triple Crown because of his size and ability. A guy in a hat was behind us, and overheard our conversation, saying "Sham's good, but you haven't seen Secretariat". Later, we realized that it was Pancho Martin.

13 Sep 2010 12:06 PM

On youtube (below) there is a nice 4 minute video of Riva stabled at Keeneland with Eddie Sweat taking care of him.

13 Sep 2010 12:12 PM

Thanks Steve for ALL your articles. Your statment "Welcome to Hollywood" sort of sums it up for me. I'll go see the movie but I am going in with an open mind. Will it highlight enough of the horse or will it bog down in minutiae? It does not seem like Secretariat has the people stories as much as Seabiscuit did, but I may be wrong there. In any case Big Red will always be my equine hero. I was there for his tour de force in the Belmont and I remember thinking he could never win after he ran 6 furlongs in 1:09 and change in this grueling race. At the end he gave us all goose bumps. Keep up the great work, my friend.

13 Sep 2010 12:34 PM
Steve Haskin

Lmaris, good point. Thank you for the history lesson.

13 Sep 2010 12:38 PM
Linda M

The one and only BIG RED was so brilliant in every shape and form, words cannot describe him.  I remember soon after his first crop of babies arrived, I met Penny at Bloomingdales.  I asked her how Big Red and the babies were doing, and just like a grandma, pulled out of her purse, "a brag book", of the kids.  A special moment for me, what a lady, WHAT AN ATHLETE.

13 Sep 2010 12:39 PM
Steve Haskin

Steve, the main difference is, you went the rich direction and I went the poor direction...financially, of course. I didn't leave Wall Street, I escaped.

13 Sep 2010 12:44 PM

Beautiful! They actually brought tears to my eyes and I don't know why - whether it was the sheer magnificence of Secretariat, jealousy that you got to be so close to him, or something else.

Although I did have to laugh at Sodapopkid's comment - hate to be the party pooper, but there were two Big Reds - Man O'War had the nickname first.

I never got to see Secretariat race, and I never got to see him in retirement - mostly because by the time he died, I was two and a half! I think I came along a generation too late to see many of the greats, though I was lucky enough to see Zenyatta run the Apple Blossom this year. They just don't make them like they used to.

13 Sep 2010 12:55 PM

OMG... Awesome, just awesome!!!

13 Sep 2010 12:55 PM

Coming back to read more comments and I'm so thrilled that so many of you got to experience Big Red in one way or another and are sharing with the rest of us.  Thank you all.  Glimmerglass, that video is wonderful!

13 Sep 2010 1:44 PM

Thank you for the personal photo's, they are amazing,  The pictures took me back to a by gone era. And as for you giving up wall street in favor of horses - me thinks you made a good choice.  On a side note, I really liked the hair you were sporting .. and get outta here with that three piece you had on, or was that a sports coat with a sweater vest?  

I still miss the 70's era and the incredible horses of that period.  They were simply bred for a different style and function of racing.  

13 Sep 2010 1:59 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve- Really fabulous pictures. Thanks for sharing those. You must have been at the top of your class in kindergarten. I can assure you positively that those are nowhere near the worst 70's clothes. Not even in the same ballpark at all. Thanks for making the correct decision regarding your career. Eventhough the world would be in better financial shape, I'll take the writings over money. The writings are irreplaceable, money isn't. You can always make more money. No one can write like that.

13 Sep 2010 2:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   The one with the stick is my favorite photo also. I also like seeing the three white socks again. The mismatch reminds me of when, oh nevermind. I hope you're doing well. You're my favorite owner.

13 Sep 2010 2:07 PM
Richard C

First off love the photos. The one with the branch in his mouth is a very touching photo. I have to say as a huge Secretariat fan I am very disappointed that filmmakers found it necessary to alter the true story so much. Anyone who has read Bill Nack's book knows what a compelling story the real story was. I know they want the film to appeal to a wider audience, but I think a great many people who will become interested in Secretariat through the film will be disappointed at how inaccurate the film was. I will see it because anything connected to "Big Red" appeals to me but I wish they had tried to remain true to the facts.

13 Sep 2010 2:20 PM

Steve, Love the pictures,especially the one with the stick. Thanks so much for them. I plan on seeing the movie and will just have to overlook everything that's wrong. I wish they would have "told it correctly" and used actual race footage,but it is a Disney movie and most people won't notice. I was 15 when he won the TC,and am forever grateful he came along in my lifetime. I don't think there will ever be another one like him again(not with the way they breed today). I have all the books and videos on Secretariat and look at them often. I also agree it was Riva that saved the farm but it was his misfortune to be stablemate to the Greatest of all time(IMO)

13 Sep 2010 2:39 PM

Rita, I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister.  

Steve, thanks so much for sharing your pics and recollections of The Great One.  This is another article of yours that I have bookmarked so I can go back to it again and again.

You and Mr. Nack are my favorite writers.

13 Sep 2010 2:43 PM

I am so grateful that we horse-lovers have you to provide us with such joy.  How wonderful to see the pictures and read about those days in 1973.  I, too, wish a book could be published with all your collected photos. Thanks so much.

13 Sep 2010 3:09 PM

Glimmerglass, thanks for the link to the Riva Ridge video!  I loved Eddie Sweat walking down the shedrow with a word and a pat for every horse.  And listening to Lucien Laurin giving instructions to the rider - gallop around twice (which would be two miles) and the second time, make it an open gallop.  And then the footage showing him cooking along pretty fast that second time around!  Can you imagine a horse being allowed to "gallop" like that today?  They'd shorten it to five furlongs, call it a breeze, and walk the horse for two days afterwards so he could "recover".  (Yeah, I'm one of those who thinks that athletes should train harder than their races will be.)  

Fascinating footage.  Secretariat is my number one, but I have a very soft spot for Riva!  

13 Sep 2010 3:10 PM


I was very young when Big Red won the Triple Crown. He always was a legend of the sport. Looking at the photos I see something in the  eyes of how smart and human like he truly was. When looking at Zenyatta I see the same look in her

eyes, human like which is very rare in racehorses. I love the photo of Big Red before the Preakness. I would love to purchase a copy of this photo from you. Would that be possible?

13 Sep 2010 3:15 PM
steve from stlouis

Steve: While I may deal in financial instruments on a daily basis on Wall Street, it is you who has riches beyond belief. How can one put into dollar terms the experiences you share with us? There can be no price for your thoughts and insights on Big Red, the greatest equine I ever saw.

13 Sep 2010 3:20 PM
The Phantom

Excellent article about one of truly great horses.The word great is overused so often on  modern horses,I don't feel that they can compare with the horses from the 40's ,50's,60's 70's 80's where horses ran tough campaigns against the best competition no dodging horses or certain races and   conceding so much weight to opponents, RED running 3 major races in such a short period of time ,winning 2 wow that's called great.This new wave of training[babysitting?] with so much rest between races, crying about weights,dodging tough comp , there are no more Iron horses just vacationeers who run a limited amount of races each year.How could anyone put RA in the same class as RED and other greats from the past .The day of great horses has passed for the pampered horses of today.

13 Sep 2010 3:21 PM

Steve...thanks for the article, and kudo's to you for "escaping" from the idiocy of wall Street.  I've been a broker for 30 years, and I wish I could escape from the trap I'm in.  Quick question...the Belmont scene at KEE would ruin the movie for me.  Probably even show the day as being sunny.  Why in the world couldn't they have filmed the Belmont scene at Belmont?

13 Sep 2010 3:23 PM


What amazing pictures! And the one with Secretariat holding a stick in his mouth like a big red dog, who knew he had such a mischievous streak to his personality?

The picture of Secretariat getting up from the field with the sun glistening on his brilliant red coat is stunning. I have read how incredibly muscled he was but this picture really brings that statement to life. He almost looks like a Quarter horse.

Your pictures truly are a living treasure chest of memories.  

13 Sep 2010 3:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Steve, thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

Thank you very much, Dr. D. I reached my scholastic peak in kindergarten. Went downhill from there. Actually, I did pretty darn good in the 4th grade.

Cynthia, are you on Facebook? If so, feel free to download whichever photos you want.

Thanks, Susie. Bill is THE best. I'm honored to be mentioned in the same breath as him.

Wizard, I guess they had trouble filming there for reasons unknown to me. Although it really bothered me, I still recommend everyone seeing the movie.

13 Sep 2010 3:55 PM
Secretariats # 1 Fan

Steve  Thanks for the great piks a always tear up thinking about the great one.  I has the privledge of meeting him just once after he retiring to stud.  I visit the farm at least ever other year to remember him and find out who's now occupying his very famous stall.  Steve if you get a chance please visit the Ky Horse Park and see the bronze of him with Ron up and being led by Eddie.   It the best bronze I've seen of him.  Steve thanks again for the great article and pics.

13 Sep 2010 3:56 PM

Steve, I have the Secretariat book Ray Woolfe Jr. I treasure it like I do this feature. I never get tired of reading, talking or breathing Secretariat. Big Red won his final race at Woodbine, which isn't to far from where I am located(Niagara Falls). I plan on attending the movie and will make my own judgement as you suggest.

13 Sep 2010 3:59 PM
Ronald Friedman

Lucien Lauren was ill equipped for a great racehorse in Riva Ridge or one of the greatest in Secretariat.

He refused to believe Riva couldn't stand up in the slop and only a second rate trainer could get Secretariat beat 4 legitimate times.How could he not know Secretariat had an abcess in his mouth before the Wood Memorial? How could he not know he was running a fever before the Whitney or questioned why his last workout was so slow?How can you over estimate his greatness and think to run a short horse in the Woodward? Also if you know what you have at the beginning of his career how do you put an unheralded apprentice on him for his first start? The answers to these questions are simply Lucien Lauren was a grade B trainer who got his job from his son's influence.  

13 Sep 2010 4:08 PM

Steve, I can't find you on Facebook...which horse are you hiding under?

13 Sep 2010 4:37 PM

I haven't been able to read this yet.  Just a glimpse of the first picture did me in. Secretariat has always had that affect on me and I'm really afraid I'll just come unglued watching the movie (no matter how bad it might be) So, I'll wait til I get home to read this, but I did want to thank you for writing it, Steve.

13 Sep 2010 4:47 PM
mike williams

Thank you for your very good article. Secretariat in my books is the greatest racehorse ever.He won on dirt and turf,defeating the best on each surface, and his final race at Woodbine, on turf which I considered that day as a bog at the distance of 1 5/8 mile was a real crowning achievement.

13 Sep 2010 5:03 PM

I really have to go back and read through the comments more thoroughly.  For now I'd like to thank you Steve for the breath-taking photos.  As lovely and slender as Secretariat seems to be, it looks as though his muscles have muscles.  What a sight!  He was unbelievable.  The photos are awesome, and sort of bring him down to earth as though we could reach out and stroke his cheek.  Thank you! Thank you!  

Whatever distortions the movie may create, the story of Penny and Secretariat is so worth bringing to the attention of the national scene.  I'm certain there are many folks who have never heard of Secretariat, let alone are aware of his record-setting life.  The movie just might spark the imaginations of the children, invite more fans into horse racing, and continue to delight us for years to come.  Factual or not, the movie will inspire those who want to learn more about Secretariat's legend....and your books will be there to guide them.  

13 Sep 2010 5:04 PM

Mr. Haskin -

Forgive me for noticing that Ruffianrun mentioned the Phoenix rising from the ashes last night.

13 Sep 2010 5:05 PM

Steve, all I can say is THANK YOU! Your memories and photos prompted me to go looking for the kleenex before typing. Beautiful stuff, thanks for sharing.

Rita, so sorry about your sister. Take solace that she is running through the pasture with Big Red and Slew, Personal Ensign, Ruffian and Tiz Chrome.

13 Sep 2010 5:29 PM
Steve Haskin

Ronald, Lucien made a number of mistakes with Riva and Secretariat, including sending Riva out to California to run in the Hollywood Derby under 129 pounds only 3 weeks after the Belmont. He ran his guts out to win that race and was never the same the rest of the Year. Then running him in the slop in the Met Mile and 2-mile JC Gold Cup against Prove Out was crazy, as was running him in a bog in the D.C. International on grass for the first time. He hated that course, he hated the slop, and he wasnt a 2-mile horse -- especially running head and head with Prove Out early. Running Secretariat in the Woodward was an absolute shocker to me.

Rachel ,why are you looking for me as a horse? Did you try Steve Haskin?

Alan, that was corrected. It reads the Phoenix now.

Will do, #1 fan. Thanks

13 Sep 2010 5:30 PM
joe c.

The 1984 movie Phar Lap was GREAT and stayed very close to the story.  His entrance onto the grounds for the Melborne Cup-with great dramatic effect-still brings chills; of course the end was crushing (Swale had just died prior to its release).  Thanks for the photo of Riva and the kitten; Riva's triple crown campaign was the first I followed on my own (not via my father).  I was really disappointed at his Preakness.  Penny Tweedy (then) made an impression that spring prior to Big Red-Nack makes that point.  I'm a Diane Lane fan (should have won the Oscar for Unfaithful; she carried the whole movie).  The first race I ever attended was the 1981 Belmont (Pleasant Colony, Highland Blade and Summing in reverse order of finish).  The night before Warner Wolfe said to bet Tap Shoes; wasn't he a son of Riva?

13 Sep 2010 5:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you everyone for all your comments. I hope whoever hasn't read it yet will enjoy the reprint of the  grooms' story on Wednesday.

13 Sep 2010 5:32 PM
Mister Frisky

Mr. Haskell:

Is it true that the reason Ron Turcotte is turning around to look at you in that photo before the Wood Memorial is that Ray Wolfe was screaming at you to get the F out of the shot?

13 Sep 2010 5:37 PM

Yes, I did, it was a poor attempt at humor...:-0

13 Sep 2010 5:40 PM
cat lady


Thanks for the article and pics of the greatest horse ever! Brings back so many memories. I was at Belmont Park in 1973 to witness the greatest race ever run. I took many pictures of Big Red that day (especially in the winners circle), but sadly lost them in a fire years ago. (I even had one signed by Ron Turcotte!)

I'm looking forward to the movie, even tho it's a "disney doozy", and hope it brings racing some new fans.

I agree that Riva Ridge was so overshadowed, and I cried when he lost the Triple Crown. I was a big fan of his and saw him race in the flesh also. The 70's were wonderful for racing! Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, Ruffian, Foolish Pleasure. I've seen them all! Wish we could turn back the clock and relive it again.

13 Sep 2010 5:42 PM
Fahad Malaikah


Holy cow, I figured you had a great collection of pictures, but I didn't realize how great.  What I wouldn't give to see some of your albums! You must have a real treasure trove.  Great job!



13 Sep 2010 5:42 PM
Steve Haskin

Yes, Mr. Arazi, that is true as you well know. After all his screaming, as he's been known to do, he decided he liked me in it and used the photo in his book.

btw, are you going to L.A. for the Press Day? I'm tempted to go, and Joan is telling me to go, and Diane is beckoning, but I don't think so. I would consider it a little with company, but I'm not into a solo cross-country flight.

13 Sep 2010 6:03 PM

Like others, I had reservations about this movie... afraid they will not do justice to my all-time favorite race horse! I was 9 when he won the Triple Crown, a Girl Scout and my mom was troop leader - and she and her co-leader had scheduled a camping trip the weekend of the Belmont Stakes! And worse still - we lived only 1 1/2 hours from the track (my grandfather was going to bring me...) I can remember being MOM! HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME!!! But someone was watching out for me - I ended up with a massive ear infection and couldn't go - I may not have made it to the racetrack, but at least I got to see him run on TV because remember, there were no VCRs or DVRs back then! That is one race I will never, ever forget, and the race call still gives me goose bumps, even to this day.

13 Sep 2010 6:14 PM

Great, GREAT stuff. I was only 10 when Secretariat won the Triple Crown, but I remember watching the Belmont like it was yesterday.  My older sister was holding a party that afternoon and was quite irked that I wouldn't leave the basement until the race was over.  (Now she understands why I wouldn't leave.)

A few years later, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eddie Maple, who shared his story about Big Red's last race.  I was thrilled.

As for the movie...I must admit I was crushed to hear they didn't use Chic Anderson's call of the Belmont. (Well, actually my reaction was closer to "Those @@$%#!!!") What a shame.  The call of that race gives me goose bumps every single time I hear it.

Steve, thanks so much for sharing your story and pictures.  I never met Big Red; I only visited his gravesite, whereupon I plucked a few blades of grass from the site.  Your stories make me appreciate what a special time it was.

13 Sep 2010 6:24 PM
Steve Haskin

For the record, Ray didn't use the "F" word, or any other obscene word.

13 Sep 2010 6:24 PM
Ida Lee


13 Sep 2010 7:06 PM

Thanks for this, Steve.  You know how for my generation, it's almost like Secretariat wasn't real, as if he was all made up.  Thanks for keeping him real.  I love the candid shots that you wouldn't get to see otherwise, especially  the one of him with the stick.  I hope you had enough Certs for him. :)

13 Sep 2010 7:10 PM

Steve, On youtube isnt it Riva Ridge that keeps pulling at the pocket of the groomsman when he is leading him, and the groomsman tells him,  "You dont pull on anybody's shirt but mine" it is so cute, the horse is pulling at his shirt pocket the whole time.  I believe it is RR.  

13 Sep 2010 7:12 PM
Karen in NY


Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures of Secretariat

and Riva Ridge. I was 17 and was watching the races with my Dad who was a racing enthusiast. I can still remember my goose bumps and how we both were so blown away by his beauty.

Steve, you have such an amazing gift to bring such joy of the sport back to us all everyday.

I often have tears in my eyes while reading your stories.

Thank you for being you. I saw you

in Saratoga and wanted to say that in person. Hopefully someday I will.

Big Red was a spectacular horse

and I so hope the movie does him

justice Like yourself I want the masses to love as it is good for the game.

thanks and keep writing your heart out . I am so touched by everything that you say.


13 Sep 2010 7:47 PM
Mike Relva


I've got a question for you. In your career who do you consider is the best horse? Also,is Invasor your all time fav? Thanks.

13 Sep 2010 7:47 PM

Wow, great pictures! You were very lucky to get that close to the Super Horse, I wasn't born when Secretariat ruled the horse racing world :( I wish I coould've seen him. Well we've got Zenyatta now right?

13 Sep 2010 7:57 PM

Thanks for sharing these photos from your collection, Steve. You have a cool job. Very cool job.

13 Sep 2010 8:00 PM

This is the greatest kind of history.  The eyewitness kind, the personal, and the intimate.  Thank you so very much for sharing your stories and photos of Big Red.

13 Sep 2010 8:22 PM

Nice work Steve, I am looking forward to the movie. You did a fine job of not discouraging what I want to see as well as keeping it all grounded. You do have some special talents. You also moved up on my list of cool people with your little impute on how horses helped save your life. Me too! Maybe you did not word it quite this way but I knew what you meant.


13 Sep 2010 8:23 PM

Thoughts of his incredible margin of victory swim through my mind...of his solitary charging toward the finish line...of how then glancing at the other horses running seemed like an unwanted distraction from the magnificence this supernatural equine had just demonstrated a few seconds before...

I have in the back of the top drawer of my desk a commemorative medallion keychain, still in its protective plastic bag, depicting & honoring him as the 1973 Triple Crown was given out later in the year at Belmont to those of us who attended another one of his races there...I was 23 then...I'm 60 now...and it's still one of my most cherished possessions...

13 Sep 2010 8:26 PM

I was 15, my parents were sure that I was in need of professional help during those weeks in 73. The day of the Belmont, I think they considered medicating me.

Your photos are wonderful, colour me green.

13 Sep 2010 8:29 PM

Rita..I am so sorry. I lost a sister and no one gives as much creadance as needed in recognizing the lost of a sibling. My father passed in 1972..I know he beleived he had see the greatest ever in Man O'War..I have been waiting 37 years since 1973..each season with anticipation..(good horse himself)..but my family knows that one of my greatest to have witnessed the running of Secretariat..probably the best bred running machine..after 200 years of us "humans" being involved. An unmatched memory for us who love the athletes of the sport.

13 Sep 2010 8:57 PM

Seen him at Woodbine he came up for the Canadian International. This was his last race. The morning of his workout the grandstand was full. Eddie Maple was up because Turcotte, a Canadian, had suffered an injury that ended his career. Maple had a hard hold but Big Red moved to the sound of the crowd the cheering was loud and long. I will never forget! The actual race was anticlimactic. What a horse!

13 Sep 2010 9:17 PM
Steve Haskin

Ida Lee, I appreciate you typing with a broken arm. I will expect a longer comment once it's healed :)

Alysse, we had plenty of Certs. My wife did most of the feeding. What you said was the reason why I posted these.

13 Sep 2010 9:26 PM

Hey I remembered slightly wrong....Ron Turcotte was suspended at the time...injury came later.

13 Sep 2010 9:29 PM
DB Weilenman

I saw Secretariat's Triple Crown on tv; still have the papers. I'll see the movie & be grateful Hollywood didn't treat it like the earlier Seabiscuit flicks - or the flim that lied about Shergar. Secretariat was glorious; wish he hadn't died so young. My beloved ex-racers live till their 30s despite a "shoestring" budget.

13 Sep 2010 10:31 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I don't see how you can ship all the way to the West Coast for Press Day, ship all the way back home, then ship again to Kentucky and be at your best for The Breeeder's Cup. You might have to use a conditioner rather than just your regular shampoo.

13 Sep 2010 10:58 PM
Steve Haskin

Karen, thank you very much. I wish you had stopped and said hi, at least. Please do next time you see me.

Mike, over a 3-year period, I'd have to say Spectacular Bid. For one year, Dr. Fager. And Secretariat and Damascus were the best 3-year-olds I've seen. Secretariat was a helluva 2-year-old as well.  But The Bid did more things than any horse and had the most remarkable record.

Invasor was one of my all-time favorites from a personality level and for taking me and my family on an unforgettable trip to Uruguay.

13 Sep 2010 11:35 PM

Mr. Haskin, When I think of the life you have led, it truly is numbing.  I get emotional just reading your stories, I can't imagine actually being there behind the scenes breathing the same air as a horse like Secretariat or the many others you have had the privilege to meet.  I would probably have a seizure if I were ever lucky enough to be in that kind of situation.  Thank you for including your photos with this story.  When I look at your photos I don't see sport photos accompanying a story, but rather a family album.  What struck me about the photo with Riva Ridge and the cat is the stud chain is attached to the halter just like a normal lead.  I haven't seen many photos of race horses like that.  There really is a sweetness about him.  Secretariat is truly a physical specimen.  He almost looks otherwordly when next to another horse.  Your photo of him training for the Wood Memorial reminds me of one that I think is from the Preakness, which I believe is one of the best photos ever.  It is just of him but his stride is so unbelievably huge that it sums up everything about him.  It's jaw dropping.  I will see the movie regardless of the creative licensing that has been taken, because I feel the need to support a movie about racing hoping that in the future there will be another coming out of the starting gate rather than being turned out to pasture.  Looking forward to the next installment, I love hearing about the grooms.  As far as I'm concerned they are the unsung heroes of horse racing.

13 Sep 2010 11:39 PM
Michele T


Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures of Secretariat. I consider myself fortunate to have seen his races on TV when I was eight. I remember watching that Belmont race and knowing that I would never see another like that. Truly amazing. I also consider myself blessed to have struck up a great friendship with Jim Gaffney-Sec's exercise rider. He told me some neat facts about Big Red. I have always loved horses and Secretariat and Riva Ridge are the two that I remember the fastest when talking about thoroughbreds. Thank you for being so gracious about those pictures. I just love the one with Riva and the cat and the one with Sec and the stick...both were characters!.

Rita, sorry to hear about your sister...I think that she is probably visiting with all of the greats that have since passed.


One of the horses in the movie is Secretariat's great-grandson..his name is Trolley Boy...out of Gone West (Secrettame).

Storm Cat got his speed but Gone West had his conformation.

13 Sep 2010 11:51 PM

I saw Secretariat break his maiden and I was a follower from that point on. Did see many of his 2 year old races and I did see his Triple Crown. The Belmont of course is indelibly etched in my memory. The movie will be swell but thanks for the warning about the "poetic license " but I'm sure I'll need more than one kleenez when I see the film.

13 Sep 2010 11:58 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I have a question. John Malkovich is a very fine actor. What didn't you like about the way he played Lucien Lauren? Was it because they played loose with the facts or that he didn't capture the real person?

13 Sep 2010 11:59 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D., you talked me out of it.

14 Sep 2010 12:00 AM
Paula Higgins

This isn't the first time I have heard people say that Spectacular Bid was the best horse they have ever seen and that he could do it all. Interesting. He was amazing.

14 Sep 2010 12:01 AM

Steve, Isn't it amazing that there is still so much to say about Secretariat!  He really is a true national hero that no one ever seems to be done describing and praising.  It's great for us who never saw him to relive these up close experiences that you and others had.  The above  photos could be in a book written by you with your personal thoughts and experiences with Big Red.

Do you happen to know why they put blinkers on him?  Did he look around too much?

14 Sep 2010 12:27 AM
Mike Relva


Thanks for your answer. BTW probably mentioned that I'm visiting Invasor and Jazil this Saturday and Monarchos,also.

14 Sep 2010 12:28 AM
Dr Drunkinbum



14 Sep 2010 12:30 AM

Also meant to say that Secretariat had such sweet eyes (see up close photo of him with stick in mouth)

14 Sep 2010 12:32 AM
Secreatariat Fan

Great the pictures...I believe everyone who goes sees the movie to keep a open mind....everyone has there own opinions....I don't know how many know that Penny Tweedy is in the movie...she was on the set when the movie was being made...I'm sure she had standards on how she felt how the movie should been filmed. Looking forward to see the movie...  

14 Sep 2010 1:10 AM
The Deacon


     Well said about picking the best horse you ever saw, hard to argue. The Doc was my favorite but no horse who ever looked through a bridal would beat "The Bid" at 10 furlongs, and Secretariat was the best ever at a mile and a half. I would take the Doc at any other distance. What the Doc did in 1968 was so rare, not only was he fast but he sure could carry the weight. Not too many racing legends could do that..

Great blog...........

14 Sep 2010 2:19 AM

Oh how I wish you could have been large and in charge of making the film about Secretariat.  I know it will be a typical Disney approach to a movie about an animal.

But Steve, just to think of what an epic the movie had the potential to become is most disheartening.  I never saw Secretariat when he was in all his glory.  I have read all I could find on Secretariat, Riva Ridge and Sham.  

Your photos bring much admiration and joy in such grand and glorious creatures.  Thank you so so much and I'm looking forward to Wednesday's column. What experiences you've had Steve.  Wondrous, indeed.

14 Sep 2010 2:24 AM
Shelley S.

Thanks so much for the photos. Love the one with the stick. Have a head shot of him on my wall (I'm a slight addict). I was fortunate, at almost 16 with tears streaming down my face, to see Secretariat win the Belmont. The crowd was hysterical and standing on the seats when he came pounding down the stretch -- alone. At Claiborne in late '85 I kissed his cheek and have some of his hair and a horse shoe. It broke my heart to hear of his passing in '89. I intend to see the movie regardless of the flaws.

14 Sep 2010 3:49 AM

They don't use Chic Anderson's race call?

I was (am) smitten with Seattle Slew...the fire in his eyes, his war dance, his 3 seasons we got to see him, especially his 4 year-old year...the then fastest 2 year-old mile in the Champagne (and still second fastest, 1/5 off the record)...his ability to go short and long, his tenancity and will to win, 2 of his losses by a nose and a neck, and his only loss off the board in that stupid race in the hot heat of July, in California clear across the country, just 3 weeks after his TC trail of 6 races in 13 weeks, (grrrr),  his health problems, beating a TC winner in the still second fastest Marlboro Cup ever, 2/5 of a second slower than...Secretariat. The spine-tingling stretch drive with the great Exceller in the JCGC...carrying up to 134 lbs...

The only horse I've seen to rival my affections is apropos...

14 Sep 2010 7:19 AM

Wow Steve! I was less than a year old when you were taking some of these photos, but It must have been amazing to witness Secretariat first hand. Now I understand when you speak about horses, you can actually compare them to most peoples Standard bearer in Secretariat. All I can say is WOW. You were meant to do this. You could really draw more people to this sport the way you write about it, your stories are just great.

14 Sep 2010 8:45 AM

Thanks Glimmerglass for the video.  It's been more than 25 years since I worked a shedrow, and that brought a big smile to my face.  Those were special times.

14 Sep 2010 8:52 AM
Terri Z

Dear Steve,

Thanks for a wonderful stroll down memory lane with the Elvis Presley of the racetrack aka Secretariat. How fortunate you are to have such wonderful experiences with Big Red. And thanks for sharing your photographs with us.

I hope that the movie about the King will stoke a love for horses and racing in those who don't go to the track.

I'll admit I'm a Big Red nut case. I follow Penny Chenery's website and ordered wonderful photographs of books about Big Red.

When I go to the track, I almost always place bets on his descendents; I just can't help myself.

And when I see one of his great great descendants that resemble him, my heart skips a beat.

I loved Eskenereya when I saw him in the Fountain of Youth. And that is why I am such a hard boiled fan of Quality Road. While not as handsome as his great grandsire, he certainly has many of the elements of his physique.

And he has his intelligence, kindness, and his fear of engine noise; hence, his scene at last years Breeders Cup classic.

There is only one King and I doubt we will ever see the likes of him again. But we can dream.

And now, we have a Princess and a Queen to love and adore.

Best wishes and a happy and healthy New Year.

14 Sep 2010 8:54 AM
Don from PA/Delaware

Wow, thanks again for wonderful writing and views idea of this history w/ Big Red, lucky man. We did meet in passing at DP a few years back on escalator but want to share that I was not at Belmont that day (before my racing zest) but my older brother was there and saw the big race and he bought (the original I believe) LeRoy Neiman painting soon after the race "Big Red" Secretariat and it has been hanging out with him ever is amazing #1....So that is my connection with the interest in selling last time I asked....Don

14 Sep 2010 9:11 AM
Fran Loszynski

Steve I have faith now in the media reading all these great comments about Secretariat. The media and T.V. must have done something right because look at all the people that discovered Secretariat.

I hope a movie comes out about the Kentucky Derby Day when Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex's sons walked down the Derby turf together. Side by side posts. Any takers!!!! Philly movie makers!

14 Sep 2010 10:11 AM
Terri Z

Incidentally, I loved your piece for

I hope that you will continue to write about Big Red as most readers never tire to hear about his history or antics.

14 Sep 2010 10:18 AM

If anyone owns a thoroughbred named Diane Lane they wish to sell, I think I may have a potential buyer for you.

14 Sep 2010 10:22 AM
Meadow Fan

The photos are wonderful! Thank-you so much for sharing them! And your thoughts about the upcoming Secretariat movie. I can't imagine them leaving Riva out of the movie though -- that's like peanut butter without jelly!

I too have some mane I was given during a visit to see Secretariat at Claiborne. I have it in an envelope taped to the inside front cover of a treasured hardcover first edition of Bill Nack's book on Secretariat.

One of my biggest thrills was years ago when I was working as a groom/exercise rider at a thoroughbred farm. One of the youngsters we had in training was a colt by Secretariat. I not only was his groom, but also his rider. He was a beautiful colt with his sire's same copper coat and white markings. Although unlike Secretariat, he was somewhat on the small side.

One morning on the training track he and I were paired up to gallop with another colt. A big, bulky dark bay fellow who eventually went on to become a Grade I winner for the farm.

As we came down the stretch the other rider and myself let our colts gallop out more briskly. The big bay colt drift out into my Secretariat colt. The little guy flattened his ears back against his head the way Secretariat use to do and really dug in against that big bay. What an awesome experience for a big Secretariat fan! I will never forget it!

14 Sep 2010 10:25 AM

Hi, Steve. Thank you very much for sharing the pictures!I read the book Secretariat when it first came out and will be re-reading it again before I see the movie. Secretariat is my all time favorite horse. I've collected every article I could find on him. He will never be replaced as my fave--he was one in a trillion! He is the reason I got interested in the sport of horse racing--I was just 20 yrs old and watching him on T.V. with my father--watching my father's excitement and total admiration and adoration of Secretariat is an experience I will treasure always now that my father is deceased. I hope this movie does good for the sport and gives it justice. Thanks a trillion again for the pix and "see ya at the movies!"

14 Sep 2010 11:11 AM
White Camry

When I heard John Malkovich was cast as Lucien Laurin I knew the movie would be a colossal disappointment.  Malkovich is one of this generation's greatest actors but he's all wrong to play LL.  I'd have gone with Mickey Rooney doing a Quebecois accent.

14 Sep 2010 11:40 AM

I cherish a piece of Big Red's mane that I have!

14 Sep 2010 12:37 PM

Steve -

In revisiting these photos again today...  It's so amazing to see how up close you were to these amazing horses.  You seem to have a knack for getting these greats to look right at you!  Riva seems to be kinda looking backward at you, and then the Preakness pic is chilling.  I keep tearing up at Secretariat with the stick.  Thanks SO MUCH for sharing the real Secretariat.

14 Sep 2010 12:38 PM

Marianna Haun - Thanks for your take.  That's how I'm going to try to see the movie.  I can't wait.  Have fun seeing the movie!

papillon - Last year I showed my mom - who's never been a racing fan - the entire Secretariat SportsCentury documentary on the Triple Crown.  Of course it ends with the Belmont - she was blown away.  That's funny that you and Foolish Pleasure share a birthday.

Ann in Lexington - I love your Cougar II story!

Alan - Thanks for noticing, but it's no big deal!

Vickie! - "I was 15, my parents were sure that I was in need of professional help during those weeks in 73. The day of the Belmont, I think they considered medicating me."  I was too little to know about Secretariat's Triple Crown run, but would have if my parents had pointed me there.  I think they might have been too afraid to encourage an already full-blown horse obsession - my dad was already thinking of getting me professional help just because I loved horses so much!  I'm so glad you got to enjoy the craziness of his TC run!

Thanks to all for your Big Red race stories and visit stories!  They all give me CHILLS.

I looked at his time for the Man o' War Stakes, 2:24.80, according to Wiki.  Is Secretariat the only horse to run a mile and a half in a sub 2:25 time on turf and dirt?

14 Sep 2010 12:40 PM
Linda M

I forgot to mention in my other post, when I met Penny, she was telling me about Secretariat when he was a yearling.  He was a lazy baby, loved to roll in the grass, play and cared nothing about being a racehorse.  SURPRISE, SURPRISE, what a giant he was in every respect.


14 Sep 2010 12:47 PM

I was lucky enough to see both SHAM & SECRETARIAT at Pimilico the week of the Preakness.  When I saw SECRETARIAT, I was thinking what a great show hunter he would make!  What a mover!

SHAM was a differant sort.  He was tall & very proud of himself.  He made think of the perfect timber horse or Grand Prix jumper.  I really fell in love with him.

It was a day I will never forget!!!

14 Sep 2010 1:14 PM
Steve Haskin

Malkovich is indeed a great actor, but was merely a cartoon character and bore no resemblance, physically, in personality, in speech, or anything else compared to Laurin. But then again, the real Lucien would not have made a compelling character in a movie, especially a Disney movie. If you can get past the nutty introduction of Laurin scene at the golf course you might be able to tolerate the rest of it OK. Think entertainment value before you think realism.

14 Sep 2010 1:17 PM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns, I have had good luck photographing horses over the years with basically cheap cameras, including my current tiny Canon Power Shot.

14 Sep 2010 1:22 PM
steve from st louis

Times have sure changed. You mention "Secretariat" or "Sham" or "Spectacular Bid" and nothing but respect comes from horse lovers who shared their memories here about those great runners.

On some other blogs on this site, mention one horse and trash talking spews from every blogger, putting one horse down or making excuses for another. Those old enough to remember "Big Red" don't seem to be the same hate-mongers who speak with contempt and are about thumping their own chests on other blogs when  modern-day runners are mentioned. Maybe the younger generation thinks that's "hip".

Thanks to Steve, but thanks to everyone else who shared their thoughts and memories about the life and times of Secretariat.

14 Sep 2010 1:50 PM

Mr. Haskin:  ain't NOTHING wrong with Canon Power Shots.  In fact, that was the one camera we (my sisters and I) bought for my father one Father's Day because we could be sure that (in the days of taking the film in for processing) we would end up with an actual picture of something we could see.  He had a habit of getting grainy, foggy, out-of-focus shots of feet.

Looking forward to the movie.  I already e-mailed all of the kidlets to "let them know" (translation: command performance) that they will be coming with me to see it.  I have already also told them that I will be sitting a couple of rows back so that they don't have to hear the moans  about Riva Ridge etc.

14 Sep 2010 2:19 PM

I was lucky enough to be introduced to racing at a young age, and also to grow up literally right down the street from the old Garden State Park in New Jersey.

I had been a big Riva Ridge fan, such a game horse who unfortunately went badly off form at the end of his 3-year-old season, at least in part because of an ill-timed trip to California.

In the late fall of 1972(Nov. 18 to be exact) I was lucky enough to see Secretariat run in and win the Garden State Stakes, beating a horse named Angle Light (who would, the next year, upset him in the Wood Memorial). I had never seen such an imposing 2-year-old, and what a presence he had about him even then. They say great horses have the "look of eagles" and Secretariat certainly did. There was something otherworldly about him.

I told my Mom that day he would win the Triple Crown and actually put it in writing in a letter to my grandparents. Just an 11-year-old's optimism I guess, but at the time no horse had won the Triple Crown since Citation in 1948. You all know the rest.

I have been a racing fan now since the mid-1960s and have been privileged to see many, many great horses. But none of them, in my opinion, could touch the big red horse at his best. I never expect to see his like again.

14 Sep 2010 2:59 PM
Steve Haskin

MZ, I love my Canon Power Shot. I can't believe how great the photos come out.

Steve, you are so right in everything you say. Rooting is a lot different now. And, yes, thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and stories.

Linda, I hope you and everyone who hasn't read it yet will learn a lot about Secretariat when he was baby from the grooms' story that goes up either tonight or tomorrow morning.

14 Sep 2010 3:07 PM

THANKS Steve for a great article on the horse so many would call the greatest ever.Your recalling of what Big Red was asked to do on the track  as a 3yo shows why we should be cautious about throwing around words like great and awesome so freely.His 12 race campaign as a 3yo would be unheard of today even for an older horse.This year's best older horses(Blame,Quality Road,Zenyatta) will do just 6 races at best. Big Red ran 6 races AFTER the TC including 3 at a mile and a half.

We will never see a horse come close to these accomplishments again.Today is a different game for a different type of horse.

14 Sep 2010 3:09 PM
Will W

"Bizarre depiction of characters" and "downright silliness at times" - yeah, Steve, I think I'll leave this one to the masses who, as you remarked, the majority of which won't even notice the "numerous flaws." I can't bear to watch it. The reality show Jockies on Animal Planet which was highly overdramatized and also often silly only lasted one season on Animal Planet. I doubt this one will have much more of a PR impact on racing.

14 Sep 2010 3:15 PM
jon showtime

wonderful!!! just thrilling to relive those days and races.

penny tweedy was the best person to bring more fans to racing and to share with the public.

i know i felt part of the "team"

14 Sep 2010 3:25 PM
Rhonda from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

All I can say is I got goosebumps watching him race for the Triple Crown. I got goosebumps when I saw him race in person in the Canadian International and I have gotten goosebumps ever since when I hear about him, read about him and see pictures of him.

He was Peerless/Timeless/Ageless.

Thanks so much for the article.

14 Sep 2010 3:40 PM

YOU are a human treasure in this equine world. Thank you so much for sharing with us your time with my favorite horse of all time. No other will ever replace him in my heart.  I will always regret not having a chance to see him in person.  Your pictures are EXCELLENT. TY

14 Sep 2010 3:50 PM


How very sweet of you to post here about losing your sister just this morning and regretting that she didn't get to see Secretariat or where he stood and she won't see the movie.  I know how devestating your loss is and how much you will miss her.  Your sister has gone to her reward and I'm sure that it will include seeing Secretariat.  Anything is possible for her now and may I express my condolences for your loss.

I was very fortunate to have visited Secretariat in 1988.  He was having trouble with his shoulder at the time but the groom told me he thought it was laminitis and he was right.  He was a big, gorgeous animal whom I reached over and petted and was  in total awe of that magical horse.  A horse that did things no other has ever done since.  There will never be another and I am thankful I was able to visit him.  The next year I visited his grave.  I was devestated when they put him down and cried that day and a dear friend actually sent me a sympathy card after his death.  She knew how much I loved him.  I remember a sportswriter talking about Secretariat's death and he wrote that his first reaction was "when's the funeral?"  That's how important he was in the world of sports.

Regarding the movie, let's look at it in a different perspective.  Hollywood always takes liberties when doing a film about a true story.  They always have and they always will.  Yes, there were blaring liberties taken in Seabiscuit BUT the movie was one of the top 5 films of the year because it was so well made, it was nominated for an academy award and it brought people in droves to see it.  It was the top selling video that year as well.  This means that it brought horse racing to the general public and it did it in a positive way which is important.  How many people do you think will see this Secretariat movie and know there are errors in it?  Only horse racing fans and horsemen and let's remember, Big Red has been gone for 21 years and it has been 37 years since he ran.  Many people don't even know who he was and how great he was to horse racing.  It would seem that Steve thinks it not a stupid movie but entertaining.  If this movie is as well made as Seabicuit, it could be a boon to this sport.  Let's hope so.  I don't believe it will be of the same caliber as Seabiscuit but hopefully it will be entertaining enough to create interest in horse racing again and get people interested enough in Secretariat to do research on him and bring in new fans.  

I will go to see it because I loved Secretariat and I will enjoy seeing the film and will suspend my disbelief long enough to re-live that magical spring in 1973 that touched so many, including myself.

14 Sep 2010 3:51 PM
cat girl

Hi,Steve and all the other bloggers here. I am a first time blogger, but just had to comment on Sexy and Riva, 2 of my all time faves. Never got to see them race in person, but did get picture taken with Sexy at Claiborne in 1982. That was a wonderful trip, as I also got my picture taken with Seattle Slew and Affirmed at Spendthrift. I have to laugh whenever someone says a horse is the "next coming of Secretariat"! oh please, we will NEVER see another Secretariat, or Seattle Slew, Affirmed or the Bid for that matter. Don't know if it's the breeding, training or what, but the racers of today just ain't the same. I love Zenyatta and her unbeaten record, but, I'm sorry, I would not think she could have ever beaten any of the above mentioned horses! My favorite Sexy story is related to his spectacular Belmont. I had just graduated from high school, and some friends and I were on a road trip to Orlando. We just got to our hotel, and were in the lobby checking in, when I realized it was time for the Belmont to start. I was trying to hurry things up so we get to the room to watch it, but it wasn't happening! Finally, I asked the clerk if there was a T.V. nearby, and told her why I REALLY NEEDED to see a T.V.! She said there was one in the employees lounge, and let me go in and watch race in there (I mean they were going in the gate while we were checking in, that's why I needed the T.V. right away). My friends thought I was nuts, but they are not racing fans. They could hear me screaming out at the check-in desk! We will never see another race like that. Thanks for letting me ramble on, and I look forward to your reprint story tomorrow about the grooms. You are such a great writer Steve, and thanks for all you give us racing fans!

14 Sep 2010 3:55 PM

As I type this, over 200 comments have been posted. Amazing responses to great photos of a magnificent horse! Although I was plenty old enough to have seen Secretariat run, horseracing was completelely off my radar in the early 70's... something I will always regret, among a host of other missed oportunities. (sigh!)

I have really enjoyed the comments of those who experienced those exciting times, either in person or on TV. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and feelings with the rest of us, who were either too young or too oblivious to realize that history was being made.

I completely missed the boat before 1999, but through your words I feel some of the excitement that permeated your lifes when Big Red dominated the racing world.

Great blog, great photos, great posts! Can't wait for the reprint of the grooms story!

14 Sep 2010 4:41 PM

Many thanks to you Steve for sharing these beautiful memories with us.

The photos are breathtaking.

How wonderful to have witnessed the magnificance of the great Secretariat in person.

He was really something special wasn't he?

14 Sep 2010 5:07 PM
Daina Ryan

Steve - thanks for sharing those photo's.  Love the one of Secretariat working out for the Wood - it's almost as good as the photo on the cover of the book "The Horse That God Built". THAT was an incredible photo - - and the photo on the cover of the book SECRETARIAT of him making that powerful leap on the turf as he just gets going and the famous side photo of him when he makes his big move in the Preakness.  I sure hope the Disney presentation of Secretariat does him justice.   Not fond of the way they depict our great equine athletes (Seabiscuit was corny).   I highly recommend the book instead.  I think the You Tube video's - Secretariat Sportcentury Part 1 & 2 do a pretty good job of portraying him.  I highly reccommend that everyone watch those video's.  Anyhow, when I saw you posted a new article about Secretariat my heart skipped a beat - - it's always great to keep hearing about the GREAT SECRETARIAT.  I will never get enough.  He captivated me at 14 and life hasn't been the same since.  I'm addicted.  Always watching and waiting for one as great but I believe as Bill Nack said after he ran the Belmont - "you will never see this again".    

14 Sep 2010 5:08 PM
Mike Relva


The show on AP lasted two seasons.

14 Sep 2010 6:06 PM
Darrell Gross

I was only 13 when I saw Big Red win the Kentucky Derby while running from last to first and running each "quarter" fastest than the quarter before – the ONLY Derby winner in history to accomplish such a feat. I also saw him at Claiborne Farm on an autumn afternoon after he retired from racing and he was such a big ham. He loved His picture taken more than many "models" :-) And vene thoigh he didn;t bring me a "brannch" like in your last photo he did rest his head on my shoulder while everyone else was taking photos. I also got one of Secretariat's horse shoes which I have mounted next to a beautiful print of Big Red :-) I also have the racing "program" from his Kentucky Derby and what a field that was!!! Forego (champion), Skecky Greene (champion sprinter), Sham, Our Native, My Gallant, etc.

14 Sep 2010 6:14 PM

I was born the year that Big Red won the triple crown but, my father who bred quarterhorses/paints always tried to instill in my sister and myself the true lineage.  He always looked for the Secratariat or Dancer lines to breed his mares too.

He always told us about a horse so huge that none will ever uphold to his standards.  He always talked about Big Red and the Dancer.

It wasn't until in my teens that I started to read about Big Red, Dancer and Seabiscut and I had to watch anything that had to do with them.  Even to this day, even though I had never seen him, when I watch the re-plays, I get tears in my eyes, just as I do with Zen.

He was such a special horse and a very special specimen of the breed! I can't wait for the movie to come out!!!  I've been waiting and waiting and I will go see it and look over whatever corkyness there may be and who better to play Penny than Diane Lane??  Love her!!  I hope that this film makes Penny proud!  As she should be, yes Riva was the savior for the ranch but, Big Red was the heart of it!

Rita: I send my heart warming condolences to you and your family. So sorry to hear about your sister, may she be in the fields enjoying all the greats that she loved!!  Again, soo sorry!

14 Sep 2010 6:55 PM
Bill Epps

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. There is a reason a horse such as Secretariat comes along once in a lifetime. By rembering greatness, you get an idea of how hard it is to be "above average".You must know how lucky you were to actually see one of the greatest race horses of all time. Keep up the good work.

14 Sep 2010 7:48 PM

Nancy said, "I have seen beautiful horses, but none as beautiful as him, with the exception of Zenyatta.  It is as though he has returned in female form!"

I feel the same way. The first tme I saw Zenyatta (on TV, I never get to a track in person) I got the same feeling as I got seeing Secretariat. His Belmont win was awe-inspiring, just as Zenyatta's BC Classic win was.

I don't know if I will go to see the Secretariat movie. I saw the real horse run on TV and can't imagine a movie horse coming even close to expressing his presence and sheer charisma.

14 Sep 2010 8:03 PM
The Deacon

My turn at humor

If God built Secretariat, then who built Spectacular Bid, Dr. Fager and Man O War?

This has been one of the best blogs, respectful, kindness and gratitude for a legend long gone.......kudos Steve

14 Sep 2010 8:24 PM

Steve - Apparently the cheap cameras don't matter much!  I saw all those photographs you took in the "All the Pretty Horses" essay your daughter Mandy wrote for Stride magazine!  I don't know if I'm more jealous of you or her!  She got to kiss so many horses!

14 Sep 2010 9:28 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, how timely your blog is - not just right before the movie, but at the same time as Tinners Way

is retired to Old Friends. He looks just like his daddy in the face, can't wait to go see him.

14 Sep 2010 9:45 PM


We all know that Secretariat holds the N/A record for 1 1/2M on dirt in 2.24 flat.  Not many people are aware that the record on turf in N/A is 2.22.4 set by Hawkster in 1989 at Santa Anita.  I believer both are also world records.

15 Sep 2010 2:02 AM


15 Sep 2010 9:59 AM

you have the best blogs.

15 Sep 2010 10:30 AM

Laz - Wow, thanks for info on Hawkster.  That's a scary time!  Is there a place online that consolidates all these records?  I have found some records at individual track sites, but often they don't say "World Record" or "NA Record."

15 Sep 2010 11:51 AM
Mike S

SECRETARIAT beat what I think of as probably the best field ever assembled in the 1973 Marlboro Cup. There were five champions in the field that day, and he roared to victory over champions RIVA RIDGE, COUGAR II, KENNEDY ROAD and KEY TO THE MINT.

Ann in Lexington...I'm with you on the COUGAR II thing! He was so awesome and charismatic, he's my favorite horse to this day. I do think a 5 or 6 year old COUGAR II would have given SECRETARIAT all he could handle, but a 7 year old COUGAR II was a little tired and nearing the end of his career, so he wasn't quite what he had been.

In any event, SECRETARIAT's Triple Crown run was the best of its kind. His Marlboro Cup was superb. And his two turf wins were amazing. I would give him the title of "Greatest Horse of All Time."

15 Sep 2010 1:10 PM

Steve  thank you thank you for this  wonderful article.  Secretariat and Man O War the greatest. Has to be about their big hearts. A horse today  cant touch what they did. Please don't ever stop writing.

15 Sep 2010 2:18 PM

Back in 1989..when the news hit the front line of the sports of the "guys" at work, reading..ok my boss..said "You know, that is sad, I really liked that horse"..enough said for me, at least he emphatized, and was aware, either for me, or the industry.

15 Sep 2010 8:40 PM


There is no difinitve sight that I can see that offers up-to-date track records for turf-dirt-synthetics for both N/A and the world.  You just have to google around using combinations of thoroughbred track or speed or distance records.  When you do get something, you have to check that the information is up-to-date.  There is one site that always comes up and it was posted in 2002.  Just keep trying.

15 Sep 2010 9:12 PM

Big Red Secretariat, the greatest horse of all time.  2:24 flat on dirt under a hand ride - unbelievable.  Wish we could have seen him run as a 4 and 5 year old.  He accomplished so much in such a short time and was just a baby - 2 and 3 years old.  Thank you for the article Steve, and also for the article about the grooms of Meadow.  Loved them!  Please keep writing...

15 Sep 2010 11:01 PM
The Regular Guy

Steve - great photos and memories from someone on the beat. Just got back from a screening of the movie.  Yes, Disney took some liberties - but I'm sure it was to mainstream the movie - which may only help to expose racing to new fans. The racing scenes were very good and exciting, Otto Thorwarth, who had never acted before was great as Ron Turcotte.  They obviously filmed a lot of the Aqueduct scenes in Louisiana - or do that many guys in New York wear cowboy hats?

16 Sep 2010 12:18 AM
White Camry

I have to agree with Daina Ryan above:  any doc posted on Youtube is better than the movie looks to be.  In fact, someone posted the full CBS telecasts of each of Big Red II's TC races.  The coverage from Jack Whitaker, Heywood Hale Broun and Chic Anderson was/is light-years more informative than the junk-foodesque coverage we get nowadays

16 Sep 2010 8:26 AM

Great article, Steve! I have fears that this movie won't be that great. Too many racing fans know the story and will be annoyed with the lies, lies because that is what they will be...

Personally my favorite all time horseracing movie is Phar Lap with Seabiscuit second. It was the human-horse story that touched people; Tommy and Phar Lap and Seabiscuit with Red. After I read Lawrence Scanlon's 'Secretariat: The Horse God Built', I knew that was the story that needed to see the silver screen, not Bill Nack's story.  

16 Sep 2010 12:03 PM

I saw Secretariat at Pimlico the day he won the Preakness. I watched as he and his groom walked up the chute from the stable area. When he reached the track, Secretariat stopped and stood for several moments, head high, surveying the track. His groom stood by his side absolutely still and quiet. Secretartiat raised his tail and took a poop, then strode purposefully off toward the saddling area. I was struck by his regal and businesslike attitude. He was clearly in charge and on a mission--his groom seemed like an attendant.

16 Sep 2010 2:29 PM

why do they call secratariat Big Red, other than the obvious, that was Man O' War's name first and (sorry to all secratariat fans) Man O' War was a much greater legend than secratariat and deserves the name more.

16 Sep 2010 11:31 PM


That's really a matter of opinion.   I don't think either of them eclipses the other.  Man'O War is certainly a legend and always will be.  I think they each have their own place in history.  Secretariat came along in the modern era when millions could see his incredible triple crown on TV.  It's just the fact that Secretariat had much more exposure to the public and most people who saw him run are still alive.  

17 Sep 2010 11:14 AM

I will take Disney's'errors' as literary license, It is so wonderful to see the story of Secretariat presented to those who were not THERE in time nor place.

If the movie piques your interest,read Nack's book!!!! It is the best I have ever read about a thoroughbred.

18 Sep 2010 1:39 AM

Hi Steve, great story and photos on a "super superior horse". I too can't wait to see the movie, and Dianne Lane, I hope it is as good as Sea Biscuit was with Jeff Bridges, & Toby Mcguire, loved that one. Hey Steve (question) In your opinion, if Zenyatta wins her final 2 races this year at Hollywood and the B.C.Classic, is she worthy of being mentioned right up there beside Secretariat? I think so, even though she never won the "triple crown", but I would appreciate your views ...

22 Sep 2010 2:17 PM

Ya know I was thinking just the other day about , If I could meet any three people in the world, who would I choose? Well I definitely want to meet Ron,cuz HE RODE the BIG RED HORSE and now I might add you cuz you got to meet him, you LUCKY DOG you!!!I am still SOOO emotional about this horse,I had to watch his races on Tv, I live in Idaho, I was 12 in that early part of the year when Red won the Triple Crown, Riva Ridge was my very 1st Kentucky Derby. I didnt know they televised horse races before that, then came along Secretariat,Wow what a horse! What an understatement.I am envious of you that you got to see him in person and interact with him, Thank God for videos & pictures, & you have some mighty fine pictures of Red.My now 12 yr old daughter loves him as much as I do, I do tear up watching re-runs of his races, my favorite race of Reds to watch is the Preakness, to watch him just eat up the ground and fly past all the other horses, you show me any other horse race where a horse even compares to that(ok Minethatbird)does pretty good in his Derby with Calvin in the seat, but there was no speed record involved, you can tell us in your blogs personal experiences that not many people could, your the closest some of us will ever get,by the way, did you ever save a piece of mane or tail hair from him? surely you had the opportunity to,You lucky dog you !!!!  

24 Sep 2010 12:49 PM

 What a magnificent creature Secretariat was. Thank you for sharing the photos. At home I have a painting of Secretariat's head and neck. His flowing mane and penetrating eyes show all its power and glory. It never fails to lift me up.  I just saw the movie and I think it was very exciting and well done. At the end of the movie was nice to see the real Penny in the background. I don’t quite know the actual real happenings but I'm glad Secretariat's story has been made accessible to many horse-lovers and preserved for the future that way.

03 Oct 2010 1:06 PM

I just saw the movie this weekend, and while I'm not thrilled with some of the liberties that were taken, I do agree that it "mainstreams" the story for those who haven't read Mr. Nack's book or know from other sources more about the actual events. I DID think that the racing scenes were filmed extraordinarily well, in a way to appeal to the non-horsey set. No, it's not a perfect movie - it's been "disneyfied" which is why I still like "Seabiscuit" better, but it was still well done.

04 Oct 2010 8:23 PM


Hawkster's 1 1/2 mile turf World Record was run over S.A.'s downhill turf course--5 of the 12 furlongs drop continuously from level ground-- and horses gain greatly against the clock.

The downhill section is also used for the 6 1/2 furlong races, and it is common for run-of-the-mill horses to cover that distance in blazingly fast times of 1:06 at the three quarters mark, and finishing in 1:12.

Race clockings set on such a track should only be compared to other times on the samer track, for the same distance, and not to other tracks, where the advantage of gravity is lacking.

Add 3 to 4 seconds to Hawkster's time (which has been eclipsed) to gain parity with level track clockings.  

10 Oct 2010 5:17 PM

When I was a little girl, in the 1950s I loved Man O'War and to this day think he's the greatest racehorse ever, that said Secretariat is a close second. I do think the nickname "Big Red" does belong to Man O'War.

That said, I remember watching Secretariat win the Triple Crown, I cried like a baby when he crossed the finish line. Later, when he was standing at Claiborne I was lucky enough to meet him in person. He was in his pasture and saw us at the fence and came trotting over to say hello. He was like a big old friendly pet gelding. He was also very overweight which made me sad, I supected he would come to the end that he did. )c:  

10 Oct 2010 8:20 PM

what a wonderful storie and how great he was. i wish i would of got to meet this great horse and it sad his life end so soon and at a very young age he is and alway will be in are thoughts. i cant wait to see the movie and i just love when they tell great storie of great hero and he truely is one. love horse they are such pretty animals and i hope they will make more movies that tell us how truly great they are.

13 Oct 2010 5:13 PM
Dave S.

Isn't it Amazing How Big Red Brought So Much To Racing (And To The Public In General) and That Not Much Later Another Famous Race Horse "Ruffian" Would Almost Bring The Worst Attention To The Same Industry ( With Calls For The Stoping Of Racing In America).

The 70's Were A Wild Ride For Horse Racing!!!


14 Oct 2010 9:05 PM

Super Nice post. Thank you.

18 Oct 2010 6:06 PM

hey i saw the movie you had an amazeing horse i  could have rode that horse he was gorges and i hope you had a great time with him i have so many questons to ask  you lol

23 Oct 2010 11:01 PM

Big Red is so magneficent!!! And now my new fave color  is red. GO BIG RED!!!

07 Nov 2010 4:22 PM
barrel racer

i am writing a project on secrateriat for school. and yes i am a barrel racer

28 Nov 2010 3:40 PM

Thanks for sharing your experiences with these great wonderful horses.  The movie is neat in it own way and the true stories of Secretariat are even more wonderful!  

12 Dec 2010 5:38 AM
Victoria Tyrrell

I learned alot about Secretariat in this bio thing.  I want more about Penny Tweedy tho!1!!!!!!!

11 Jan 2011 8:08 PM

Just watched the movie TWICE yesterday!!  What a beautiful and inspiring story.  Oh, to have touched and stroked this wonderfully unique horse would have been a dream come true.  Thanks for sharing your unique perspective of Secretariat.  Arguably the greatest horse who ever lived.

30 Jan 2011 6:58 AM

I love secretriat dont everyone dont you ask please! EVERYONE!

28 Mar 2011 7:08 PM

i love ecetariat .i watched the movieand loved it. i wish he was still alive

17 Apr 2011 2:14 PM

I enjoyed the pictures you posted in your blog.  I am the proud human of a Secretariat grandson by Tinners Way: Trabia, named after a city in Italy by his Italian breeder.  Trabia, now 8, a gelding, claimed me as his human after giving a try at racing.  He does amazing things in endurance races.  He must have Secretariat's big heart because he comes in to vet checks with his heart rate already down to 60 beats/minute or lower, even after loping a bit plus jogging on flat ground.  Trabia looks a lot like Secretariat and your pictures make me realize how close I am to Secretariat through his grandson.  Thank you!

14 Feb 2012 12:52 AM

In case you still check these out:

So. Did you throw the stick for him?

09 Aug 2012 2:02 AM

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