When Big Red Was Little Red

(This article originally appeared in the Blood-Horse magazine in 2002)

In the spring of 1969, a magical seed was planted in the equine garden known as The Meadow, located in Caroline County, Va., just north of Richmond. From that seed the following spring would sprout a legendary creature who would one day transcend the Sport of Kings and forever alter the course of racing history.

But the harsh winds of 30 winters have since eroded this hallowed ground that once nurtured the immortal Secretariat. The pastures and training track that once shook from the pounding of "Big Red's" mighty hooves have been still for two decades.

Only 400 of the farm's original 2,000 acres are as they were then. The training track and adjoining barns have remained somewhat intact, but are decaying with every passing year. There are no longer horses frolicking about or even photographs on an office wall to keep the memories alive. All that remains in Caroline County to remind one of The Meadow's illustrious past are the aging, but still-fertile, minds of several former grooms, to whom those glory days of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s have all but faded from their minds. They have moved on with their lives--two work full-time as janitors, two have retired, and one dabbles as a handyman, occasionally doing lawn work and fixing small engines and lawn mowers.

Charlie Ross, 66, passes The Meadow every day to and from his job at the All American Truck Plaza, just off Interstate 95, directly across from King's Dominion amusement park. Ross has been employed there as a janitor for the past eight years. For someone who worked at The Meadow for 37 years, taking care of some of the best-bred yearlings in the country, Ross admits, “It was strange at first going from the horses to cleaning showers.”

One of the yearlings who was turned over to him in the early spring of 1971 was a powerful chestnut colt by Bold Ruler, out of Somethingroyal, who had already been given the name Secretariat.

Ross spent nearly a year grooming Secretariat, watching him trim off pounds of baby fat and develop into a racehorse and eventually into a legend. But the big chestnut with the three white legs and long, elegant strip of white running down his face was but one of many horses to pass Ross' way. Although he does admit to feeling good about his role in Secretariat's life, in the world of Charlie Ross, there is not much room for sentimentality. His only personal link to Secretariat these days is a copy of Ray Woolfe Jr.'s book, which tells Big Red's story in text and photos. Any other pieces of memorabilia collected over the years are long gone.

On the afternoon of Dec. 20, 2001, Ross left work at the usual time of 3 o'clock, got into his 1999 metallic blue Toyota pickup, and headed west on two-lane Route 30 toward his home on nearby Sadie Lane. But today was different. Instead of driving past the dirt road entrance of The Meadow's old training complex, Ross hung a right and drove along the outside of the track to an opening in the rail. On the other side of the track was the indoor training barn and the European-style stable area, with the three outdoor barns forming three sides of a square. The fourth side, completing the square, was a large open shed, in which still stood the old hotwalking machine.

Ross looked at the peeling paint of the training barn that was now more gray than white and just shook his head. "It's been a lot of years since I've been here," he said. "It feels strange to be back. There was a time when I used to be here more than I was at home. There sure was no paint peeling off back then like it is now. We used to paint it every year. This was a beautiful place to work, and Mr. (Christopher) Chenery was a wonderful man to work for. So was Mrs. Tweedy (Chenery's daughter Penny, who took over the farm after her father's death in 1972)."

Ross, who has a noticeable limp due to arthritis, walked alongside one of the barns, passing one stall after another. When he came to the end, he unhooked the top door of the first stall and said, as if he were unveiling a priceless work of art, "This was Secretariat's stall." Inside, several of the ceiling boards had come loose and were split and rotted. In the back left corner hung a veil of cobwebs, and in the front left corner stood an old broom.

Ross just stared inside, then took a few steps forward and rested his arms atop the bottom stall door. Although he said nothing, one couldn't help but imagine the flood of memories that were rushing through his mind. "See these two holes," he said, pointing to a pair of nail holes in the open top door. "This is where I hung the plaque that read: 'Secretariat, by Bold Ruler out of Somethingroyal.' Yeeeaaah, it does bring back memories. I remember when I used to stand outside this stall in the sunshine, just as I am now.

"I got Secretariat in the spring, along with five other yearlings, and I remember liking him when I first saw him. He was built real strong, and because he was so big and powerful, it took him a while to get it together. He was a very quiet horse to work with and I didn't have any problems with him. He had no bad habits; no biting, no kicking or anything like that. Meredith Bailes used to ride him a lot and he thought he might be something, but he really never showed anything to make us believe he was gonna become such a great horse."

Ross recalled going to the Preakness on a rented bus with other farm employees. He also attended the Belmont Stakes with his wife, but was blocked by the huge crowd and had to watch the historic event on a TV monitor in the clubhouse.

As Ross returned to his truck, he seemed to be engulfed by the quiet, as the only sound came from the winter winds howling through the naked tree limbs. "Yeah, I made a lot of tracks around this old place," he said. "But there's nothin' around here no more. It's really sad. I still think about Secretariat now and then, especially when I watch the races on television. But I have another job now, and as long as I'm working, I'm happy."

Just up the road from Ross' house is the home of 66-year-old Bannie Mines, who along with Howard Gregory and Lewis Tillman, took care of Secretariat when he was a foal and weanling. Tillman died several years ago, but Mines and Gregory are still going strong. Mines lives in a small house on Riva Ridge Road with his daughter and grandson, for whom he babysits while his daughter is at work. A few doors down lives Raymond "Peter Blue" Goodall, who was Riva Ridge's groom when he was a yearling.

Gregory lives several minutes away, across Route 30, on Gregory Road. One of his neighbors is 74-year-old Wilbur "Bill" Street, who spent most of his time at the track, but did team up with his brother Harry to van Secretariat from the farm to Hialeah in January of 1972 to start his racing career.

Mines says he doesn't do much else other than some yard work and watching television. Gregory, although 76, is still sharp and loves to keep busy, mowing lawns, doing a little landscaping, and fixing engines.

Gregory worked at The Meadow for 31 years and another several years after Penny Chenery sold the farm. Of the next two owners of The Meadow, also known as Meadow Farm, one went bankrupt and the other went to prison. The current owner tore down the original house and built a new one across the road from the old training complex.

Gregory was around Secretariat from the day he was born, which was March 30, 1970, at 10 minutes past midnight. Dr. Olive Britt, The Meadow's veterinarian who still practices part-time at age 83, remembers getting a call from the nightwatchman, telling her that Somethingroyal was in the middle of foaling. By the time she arrived, Somethingroyal had already given birth. Britt, who now lives in nearby Goochland County, said she'll never forget farm manager Howard Gentry watching the foal get to his feet and saying, "This is what we've been waiting for for 35 years."

Gregory could tell right away the colt was something special. "We knew from the get-go he was different from any horse we ever had," he said. "There was definitely something there. I remember him being very alert, and he'd test you. When you walked him to the paddock your mind and his had to correspond. If he thought you weren't paying attention he was gone. You had to have your mind focused on him at all times. I also worked with Riva Ridge and he was an altogether different horse. He was so quiet, and all you had to do was say, 'Whoa, Riva,' and he'd just stop and stand there. But Secretariat would try you in a heartbeat. You had to know what you were doing, because he always knew when you had him and when you didn't. And if he knew you didn't, that was it; he was gone.

"He was a gorgeous colt, with a beautiful head, and those three white stockings. I'll never forget watching the Belmont Stakes on TV. Lord, that was something to see. I'm very proud to have been around a horse like that. I remember putting his mother, Somethingroyal, in the ground after she died at age 31. I also buried Hill Prince. Those were really special days back then, and you couldn't work for anyone nicer than Mr. Chenery. Money was never a problem, and we got bonuses and shares in winnings. I was available anytime they needed me, because I loved what I was doing and where I was working. When I wanted to build my own house, they helped me out. And because of Mr. Chenery, I live in a six-room house on five acres, and it's all mine. There aren't many people out there like Mr. Chenery anymore.

"I stayed on after Mrs. Tweedy sold the farm, but the last fellow I worked for, Mr. (Eric) Friedlander, couldn't pay us, so I left. I drive by the farm most every day, shopping and doing errands, but I go right by. I haven't been back since the day I left. It hurts me too bad to see what's become of it. I've had several jobs since, but I'm pretty much retired now. I thank God I'm still around to do whatever I want to. I couldn't ask for more than that."

Gregory, like Ross, has little in the way of memorabilia from the old days, and no longer sees much of his fellow workers. "I used to have all kinds of stuff, but where they are I couldn't put my finger on it," he said. "It's been so long. I very seldom get a chance to visit with the other guys. Everybody's pretty much gone on their own now. Every once in a while I run acrosss one of 'em, but not too often."

Gregory actually lives only five or six minutes from Riva Ridge Road, and was able to point out Bannie Mines' house before heading to Richmond to do some errands. Mines, who is Charlie Ross' brother-in-law, is an amiable fellow with white hair, who cordially welcomed a stranger into his home. While his memory is not nearly as sharp as Gregory's, and he has a problem hearing, he did try to pull out whatever remnants of the old days his memory could muster. Mines worked at The Meadow for 25 years, mainly in the broodmare barn and helping out with the yearlings.

“I remember Secretariat was a big, strong colt; bigger than the others, and very well built,” he recalled. “With the weanlings, we always tried to put the three best horses together, and the best horse would go into the first stall. I remember Secretariat was put in the first stall, so everyone must have felt he was the best. He gave you an idea even then that he might turn into something. It made me feel real good to see him become such a great horse. He was pretty easy to work with, but he had a temper, too. I had him for about a year, and then he went to Charlie.”

Mines continued on after the farm was sold, then went to work at another farm before retiring. “I don't do much these days, just rake a little leaves and cut a little grass," he said. “I watch TV most of the time. I don’t have any souvenirs, but I did have a picture of Hill Prince. I think it's out back in the shed somewhere.”

Mines then went out to his backyard and opened the door to his shed. He had to step over several large objects to get to the back wall, and there, hanging in a glassless frame, was a finish and winner's circle photo of Hill Prince, yellowed by the years. Mines removed the photo from the frame and showed off his only link to the old days. “I really do miss those days," he said. “But I left after the last people took over and I've never been back.”

Riva Ridge Road and Sadie Lane comprise the settlement known as Duval Town, which was originally built after emancipation to house freed slaves. It was there that the majority of grooms lived. Each morning, the farm truck would make its rounds through Duval Town, picking up the grooms and bringing them to work. Sadie Lane was named by the county after the matriarch of the extended family that lived there. Known as “Aunt Sarah” or “Aunt Sadie,” she cooked for Penny Chenery's mother in the 1940s.

“I remember Raymond Goodall's mother, Magnolia, worked in the house, along with her sister,” Penny Chenery recalled. “And they were daughters of Aunt Sadie. They were all great people. The grooms were all in their 30s during the heyday of the '70s. Whenever we won a big race, we gave them a week's pay. They were wonderful to me. I clearly was not my father, but they were respectful and helpful as I was learning on the job. It was just a wonderful team.”

And they came up with a wonderful horse, believed by many to be the greatest of all time. There are only faint memories left for The Meadow's grooms. But Howard Gregory's eyes still light up when he thinks of the chestnut foal who would one day grow up to be Big Red. He rolled the images around in his mind for a few seconds before the words made their way out:  “A horse like Secretariat. That will never happen no more.”


Secretariat as a foal. Courtesy Meadow Stud

 

 

 

289 Comments

Leave a Comment:

ruffianruns

A writer like Steve Haskin.  That will never happen no more.

14 Sep 2010 10:31 PM
Suzanne

I am numbed by these recollections, as I weave them into the memories that are my own...."it hurts me too bad to see what's become of it"....the once magnificent home of the horse of a lifetime....how sad that the success & glory that Big Red brought to his connections did not result in their developing Meadow Farm into a place that would commemorate & pay tribute to him....not only then, but also now, & going forward....for all the next generations to visit & hold dear....as the last vestiges slip away, forever blurred by the passage of time, may he never be forgotten....may he always be loved & revered....

14 Sep 2010 10:51 PM
Sharon

He was a good looking youngster. Can't wait for the movie to come out. Nice article on this wonderful stallion.

14 Sep 2010 10:54 PM
Sunnysunrise

WOW...another outstanding article by my favorite writer.  The grooms probably have enough memories to fill a book Steve! hint hint

Makes me sad tho to think the hallowed grounds where the immortal Secretariat spent his formidable years are now falling apart. Wish his old stall could be moved to the Horse Park for future generations to see and touch.  

Seems just a couple of years ago Mr. Sosby, with his hat on, led Big Red out and we took a picture of him as he stood at attention, ears pricked, probably remembering the voices of those grooms back when he was a yearling.

14 Sep 2010 11:09 PM
Mary Ann W in Louisville

Thank you for sharing this article with us Secretariat fans!  He definitely was something special and magnificent!  I never get tired of reading about him.

14 Sep 2010 11:10 PM
Cris

The Meadow is a couple of hours away from where I live and my mare is a granddaughter of Riva Ridge. My foal is a descendant of Hildene and I have thought of going to the Meadow several times. The stories about its condition have always postponed the trip. Somehow I still think the trip would be worth it.

14 Sep 2010 11:10 PM
Outlaw Enterprises

Steve,

Thanks for the reprint.  It really brings Big Red's story to life by hearing the memories of people that were involved with the mundane day-to-day stuff.

What happened on all those great Saturdays is just statistics.  What was performed by the people in this article is the real groundwork for the legend we now call Secretariat.

While I do not always agree (mostly agree but not always) with your opinions on current horses, I deeply enjoy your writings on the historical horses.  I can watch a video to see how a certain horse ran but your stories can put a person on the backstretch/farm/training barn etc.

Chris

14 Sep 2010 11:23 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, if there was a Pulitzer Prize for writing about horses and horse racing, you would win it. Just a beautiful piece. The people who were involved in his life are now old and their lives have changed so much. Really all they have now are their memories. It also makes me sad that his barn is now just a relic. He was a beautiful baby, and no, there will never be another like him.

14 Sep 2010 11:27 PM
Firethorn

Wow.  How wonderful and how sad all at once.  

14 Sep 2010 11:42 PM
Afleet Treet

Hey Steve,

I am enthralled by every memory you publish about Secretariat. I recently was at the bookstore buying a book called "The Art of Racing in the Rain" (FABULOUS by the way but not about horses) and as I was walking to check out I noticed a new book out called "The Horse that God Built" about big Red and mostly told from his grooms point of view. Was wondering if you have had a chance to read it yet??

14 Sep 2010 11:53 PM
BK1

Beautiful article, Steve. There have been a lot of words written about Secretariat, but your article approached the subject from a completely different and heartwarming direction. Secretariat left a lasting impression on so many.

14 Sep 2010 11:54 PM
weekendstorm

Steve, I actually remember reading this article when it was first published, and loved it! Of course, I love everything Secretariat!  So, I thought I'd relay some of my special memories ... this was a post I made on a horse racing forum sometime in '97 or '98:

Horse Stories - Hooked from Birth

I was the quintessential little girl horse lover.  Didn't care what breed, size color - they were the most beautiful creatures in the world.  When I was ten years old, my grandmother (so I was told later) decided I should see the breed she considered the most beautiful, so off my family went to Calumet.  That gorgeous farm will always be my favorite (although there is a VERY close second, as you'll see.)  I was in much distress when they almost chopped it up after the gallant Alydar died, and Henry DeK (won't even try to spell it) will always be my hero for saving it.  Anyway, they brought out a little dark bay stallion for us to see, and when they let me pet it I was in seventh heaven.  (Can you believe I don't remember who it was?!!!)  I was converted.

After leaving Calumet, we drove by the Lexington plant of King Ranch (don't think it's still there), and there was a whole field of mares and foals.  When I saw the foals frolicking, I asked my dad to stop.  We walked up to the fence to watch them, and all of a sudden here came this precocious little foal, right up to me!  I had to stand on the fence to reach it, but it just stood there and let me pet it, and while I talked it bobbed its head as if it understood what I was saying (remember, I was only 10.)  Now I was really hooked, line and sinker.

We didn't get back to a horse farm until I suggested to my husband that we try to go see our all-time favorite.  Surprisingly, after one phone call we had an appointment, and in 1978 off we went to Claiborne to see Secretariat.  We were totally unprepared for what we'd find there.  An absolutely wonderful place with people who were nicer than you could believe.  They called Secretariat's groom from the office and he came and got US, like we were someone special.  Actually, we were so timid and nervous, but as we walked by the graveyard, he told us a little bit about every horse buried there, and eased our nerves (slightly).  Then he took us to the main stallion barn.

He said the stallions had been running all night, so all were in their stalls.  First stall on the right, Round Table, next Drone (huge horse).  Can't remember who was next, but I think it was Hoist The Flag.  We walked down one side, then up the other; we saw Ack Ack, Nijinsky II (all were predate sedate, having just come in from a night on the town, but the chills were running up and down my spine realizing how close we were to all these great stallions.)  Then we came to the second stall on the left, and all of us thought something was wrong.  The groom said, "oh, that's crazy Riva (Ridge).  He digs a hole in the corner of his stall and stands with his front legs down in it."  He looked like he was down on his knees praying!  But when the groom called him, over to the gate of his stall he came.  The groom said "now be careful, he's a nipper."  I stepped back one step and started talking to him.  He just stood there and watched me.

The groom said, "OK, if you all will stand back a bit, I'll go get him."  We all stood there in disbelief - he was going to bring Big Red out of his stall for US?  As he went into the stall, I heard a noise on the ground by my right foot.  Riva had knocked his bridle off the hook right outside his stall.  I said, "now look what you've done" reached down and hung it back up.  He knocked it off again, and again (at least four times).  Each time I'd hang it back up, with a slightly scolding "stop that".  I was falling in love - no wonder Penny loved him.  Finally, the groom was bringing out Big Red, but I reached up and pet Riva (not one nip), and told him I had to go.  In truth, I could have stayed there and played with him all day.

Glad I didn't though.  I was following the most magnificent creature I ever saw.  We were afraid to get close to him, like we were looking at a god or something (in our minds, we were).  We walked all around him, at least ten feet away, taking pictures and looking at him in awe.  Then the groom says, "you can come pet him, you know."  I almost fainted, but recovered quickly and was at his side, stroking that huge neck and talking to HIM.  As the stories told, he really was a big HAM.  My summer, my year, and many to come had been made!

We went back in 1988.  Round Table, Hoist The Flag and my dear Riva had joined the graveyard (yes I cried).  There was new blood there then:  Cox's Ridge, Ogygian (in Riva's stall which I didn't like), Private Account, Danzig, Conquistador Cielo, Linkage, and just coming back from the field, the spectacular Spectacular Bid.  We saw, (in the lower stallion barn) Devil's Bag and Mr. Prospector.  The groom with us (not the same as 1978) told us not to get too close to Mr. Prospector because he was a biter.  Did I listen?  Of course not!  Reached up and pet him across the face - another baby.

Once again, they brought Big Red out of his stall, and once again, we got to pet him.  My four year old nephew was with us, and he got to pet him too.  Though he didn't understand if then, and really still doesn't, I'll never let him forget who HE pet that day in Kentucky!

14 Sep 2010 11:59 PM
Bigtex

Great stuff, Steve!  Who owns the remaining 400 acres of the Meadow?  It's hard to believe that someone hasn't been reverent enough to maintain and preserve a place of such significance and history.  Steve, was Secretariat's speed obvious to observe as something clearly separate from other horses?  Was it thought of as speed maybe not seen before?  I know Eddie Arcaro said that Secretariat was the fastest horse he had ever seen.  And for Clem Florio to have predicted what he did at Secretariat's first couple of races then I can only assume his speed must have been something to see.

What say you?

Also, I haven't seen the movie yet, but, I can tell I'm going to be a little disappointed at the caricatures of some of the connections.  I would have liked them to have shown more reverence to the story like what was done in Seabiscuit.

Thanks for great writing.

15 Sep 2010 12:19 AM
EarlySpeed

I have a book about Thoroughbred breeding that stated that Secretariat completely broke the mode. He could "sit" way off the pace then pass the other horses like they were standing still, or he could also take the game to the other horses and gallop them to death. The enormous leap he made in the Preakness to start his drive was testament to his tremendous power at his disposal. He had the tempo, musculature, and great cardiovascular power to carry him furlong after furlong right at the top of (and beyond) Thoroughbred capability. Frank Mitchell, PhD, wrote 'Racehorse Breeding Theories that Secretariat was so specialized that any significant change caused the foal to be less than the sire. He said that Secretariat was near perfect, and you can only clone that perfection, never reproducing it. A son of Secretariat's was just retired to pasture. I looked at his photo in Thoroughbred query, and boy, did he look like his sire. Still, I do believe there is something to the exceptional chestnut stallion not quite being able to sire like himself. Chestnut is a recessive color, and speed is a recessive trait. Where do you find the mare to bring it out? Pretty much by trial and error. The author went on to say that at the time Secretariat was retired to stud, there were very few of even the top mares available to him that suited him since he was so specialized. So few mares were similar enough to him in type that Secretariat's stud handlers could not bred mares that were type to type with him, and cross-type breeding was a less predictable way of breeding horses.

15 Sep 2010 12:40 AM
Katherine

What a wonderful story. I love the pictures of Secretariat. I had the privilege of watching him win his triple crown races on television. I had been longing to see a triple crown winner since I was a little girl and when Secretariat burst onto the scene it was unbelievably exciting.

In 1978 I took my vacation and traveled to Claiborne to see Secretariat. He was the most beautiful horse I have ever seen, even to this day. He looked like a show horse. The groom had him out and I had the privilege of putting my hands on him, scratching his withers and petting him. I had fantasized about riding him after watching the triple crown (I'm sure I was not the only one) and I fulfilled my fantasy in a small way...I placed my right hand across his. I knew that was as close as I would ever get to fulfilling my fantasy! What a thrill it was to touch him and stand next to a legend. He was so beautiful and so kind.

After I had spent my time with him, I heard someone say behind me "this is Round Table, he was a great champion too" I turned around and there stood this little brown stallion and my first impression was 'he looks like a nice little cow horse you might see back in west Texas'. He was beautifully put together and his legs and fetlocks looked like those of a young horse. The groom proudly recounted this little legend's record and I was awestruck again. I have since read that Round Table was supposed to have been nasty but he was a kind and gentle soul that day.

To this day, I can't believe my awesome trip to Claiborne and having the good fortune to meet and touch not one but two living legends.

15 Sep 2010 12:50 AM
The Deacon

A time long since passed, the world seemed innocent then. Photos and memories of greatness. Jim Croce wrote a great song around this time, it was called "Photographs and Memories", I still listen to it. These pictures have stirred so many memories. There was about a 15 year period when horse racing was at it's peak. Secretariat is but one hallowed star. He will on thanks to gentlemen like Steve Haskin who had the foresight to see the future. If my wife wasn't sitting next to me I would be bawling. You should take all of your great pictures Steve and comprise a video album and publish it. Call it " Photographs and Memories", Jim Croce wouldn't haveminded....................

15 Sep 2010 2:34 AM
diastu

With all the money in racing circles, it is astonishing to me that someone, or someones, haven't bought the remaining 400 acres, rehabilitated it, and made it a living breathin place again! Shame on those with such riches as to own horses for letting The Meadow fall to the gutter like a dying junkie. But as always, Steve, your writing also astonishes me. Thank you for this lovely but sad visit.

15 Sep 2010 2:35 AM
Freetex

Just thank you so much.  Steve, your writing always reveals     the heart of racing, your subject, and you.

15 Sep 2010 2:36 AM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns...lol. Thank you. I really appreciate that.

Thanks for all your comments and sharing your personal stories and recollections.

Outlaw Enterprises, what do we not agree on regarding modern horses? :).

Paula, that's very nice of you to say. Thank you.

Afleet Treat, I have heard of it, but have not had a chance to read it.

Big Tex, I don't know the current land situation, if the new owners of that land still own it. There was a new house on the hill near the main road when I was there last. Yes, Secretariat's speed was extraordinary. He actually broke the track records for a mile and a mile and an eighth (galloping out) in a workout at Saratoga in the slop. His fractions that day were amazing. That work, and his illness, may have combined to get him beat in the Whitney.

Katherine, Round Table wore a muzzle at Claiborne when he was in his paddock. But that may have been a case of him biting himself as much as anything else.

15 Sep 2010 2:49 AM
April

It very nearly brings tears to my eyes, thinking that my generation will never have the same feeling about the sport as there was in generations past. I mean, I have it, and you have it.. the general public doesn't have it anymore. Sad.

15 Sep 2010 3:04 AM
Serebyani

Actually, 347 acres of the land were purchased by the State Fair of Va.

"Meadow Farm, Secretariat's birthplace, has been preserved from residential development through the purchase of the property by the State Fair of Virginia (Atlantic Rural Exposition). Now known as The Meadow Event Park, the land will be kept intact and dedicated to the Commonwealth's Agricultural Fair with an expanded equestrian component. Moreover, through working with the County's Board of Supervisors, the Event Park will develop displays to keep the legacy and legend of Secretariat alive in Caroline County and Virginia."

http://www.meadoweventpark.com

This article also has extra info about the farm and is about the 40th anniversary of Big Red's birth.(they threw a big party!)

hamptonroads.com/.../charmed-farm-gave-birth-champion-secretariat

I didn't get to go, but it looks like they plan to develop it further:

"The association has $10 million hopes for the horse park of the future here, centered on the horse of the 20th century. Plans call for restoration of the historic barns, a covered arena, new stables, a vet/farrier building and the Museum of the Virginia Horse."

Wanted to pass the info along.

BTW...GREAT ARTICLE STEVE! (as always!)

Debs

15 Sep 2010 3:38 AM
Twilight tear

Had the honor of visiting The Meadow in  late summer of 1973. I was 12 yrs old and in love with Secretariat. We arrived on sat afternoon and were told that they were finished for the day and didn't give tours on Sunday.

My little heart was broken and a tear streamed down my face. Well, from across the room a Gentleman looked up and said "Come back tomorrow at 12 and we will give you a 15 minute tour.

That Gentleman was Howard Gentry, the Farm Manager. Not only was he gracious enough to allow us on an off day, he spent much of the afternoon taking me to see all of the Farm, even into the fields with the mares and foals. I got to meet Somethingroyal.

Then he took me into the Main house and into the trophy room, and let me loose. For a 12 yr old racing fan, it was better than Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.Walls covered in win pictures, sparkling trophies and vast history in front of my eyes.The Triple Crown Trophy was there, so it must have been in August.

I have some photos from that day, myself looking like a gawky 2 yr old, standing on the front porch of the Main house with Mr Gentry's arm around my shoulder.

Did he see something in me as well?? Knew that I would love racing for my whole life?? Was it the kindred spirit of man/horse? Or was he as generous with every young fan?

I don't know if Mr Gentry is still alive, but I will never forget his kindness to me.

I did have the chance at Saratoga one evening walking to the sales, to walk alone with Mrs Tweedy and tell her about my youthful experience at the Farm and just what it meant to me.For that I am thankful.

I often wonder if our Guests from Michigan remember the little girl who managed to divert a trip to King's Dominion amusement Park to a horse Farm?? And thank you to my Grandmother for granting my wish.

It was truly a magical experience.

15 Sep 2010 5:18 AM
Sue Cameron

Dear Steve, I met you many, many years ago in Newmarket when I ran a bloodstock agency called Bloodlines and published The Bloodstock Breeders' Review. You were kind enough to get me photos of Sea-Bird for Tony Morris.

It is great to read your articles now. I have had a varied career in writing and also edited Pacemaker for a year. My husband and I also fulfilled our greatest wish to breed horses, but they have taken all our money now! All the best, Sue Cameron (was Helferty)

15 Sep 2010 5:42 AM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,

Your writing brings me to the topic, the stories, and the truth.  Secretariat has probably inspired more words than most or all horses.  Your words are the there with the cream of the crop.  I loved the picture of Secretariat with the stick in "The Real Secretariat." All of the pictures are worth more than a thousand words.  Thoroughbred racing needs another Secretariat, and as much as the current stars are worth, a horse like Secretariat "will never happen no more."  Whenever I look at a pedigree, if it traces back to Secretariat I feel that glimmer of hope that one of his distant offspring will be the phoenix of Secretariat's brilliance.  That hope has faded with time, but I still have a soft spot for any horse that traces back to Secretariat.  Thank you for bringing the memories back to life for those who can remember, and for bringing Secretariat to modern fans.      

15 Sep 2010 6:17 AM
Rachel

Great fun reading everyone's stories!! I got to meet Forego and I knew Swaps groom, he had amazing stories about him, the horse's courage through pain his whole racing life.♥

15 Sep 2010 6:27 AM
Amy

Thank you Steve, again. What wonderful writings! This piece brings tears to my eyes...

15 Sep 2010 6:39 AM
Carolyn

As usual, great writing. I believe a good portion of the farm has been rehabilitated into an event facility. Some major horse shows can be held there. www.meadoweventpark.com/about

15 Sep 2010 7:11 AM
Carrie

Since this article was published, the Meadow land was purchased and turned into the Meadow Event Park. The State Fair is currently going on, and the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's birth was celebrated in March.

15 Sep 2010 7:18 AM
Dwyane

Steve, reading this brings back a lot of memories for me. I live about 15 minutes from Meadow Farm and used to visit there often, Mert Bailes was a good friend and was actually the one who broke Secretariat. Although I didn't know Mr Chennery well I did know Penny. Ah to have known what I was seeing as a baby!

The farm now is the site of the Virginia State fair. I still nearly cry whenever I drive by thinking about what it used to be.

I am looking forward to the movie as well but I'm sure the folks you write of here will not play much of a part and that's a shame.

Always enjoy your work.

15 Sep 2010 7:51 AM
Giddyup

It is interesting that Deacon mentioned Jim Croce. While reading this excellent article the lyrics from a well known Joni Mitchell song kept playing in my head:

"Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got

till it's gone."

15 Sep 2010 8:16 AM
Bellwether

Ben N STALL ONE...TWO...& THREE...BEFORE THEY WERE MOVED...THOSE TWO HORSES WERE SWEET VIRGINIA BREEZE$...BETTER BELIEVE THAT BREEZE WILL BLOW AGAIN N VIRGINIA!!!...LONG LIVE THE KING!!!...ty...

15 Sep 2010 8:23 AM
VA Horse Lover

The Meadows is now the sight of the Virginia State Fair. The barns and training track are gone.

The house still stands along with the foaling barn.

15 Sep 2010 8:35 AM
Zen's Auntie

Great reprint! Thanks for sharing  all the Memories everyone!  reading this has become a tear ducts function check, yep still working.

I so enjoy these blogs more then anything else these days to just relax and let my mind wander the pastures - very therapeutic in these stress filled times.

15 Sep 2010 8:40 AM
virginia gal

Mr. Haskin,

Terrific story well worth the retelling. For those who are wondering what has happened to The Meadow, here is website for its current incarnation. Meadow Farm is now an event venue that annually hosts the State Fair of Virginia and other large scale events. Although the original farm house was torn down many years ago, its replacement is lovely and is used for weddings, corporate functions and the like. The legacy of Meadow Farm and its equine stars serves as a draw to the venue. At least they are still celebrated and not forgotten.

www.meadoweventpark.com/about

15 Sep 2010 8:42 AM
Bellwether

PLEASE...ITS WHERE THE VA. STATE FAIR IS NOW LOCATED ty...ps...Steve U R CREDIT TO THE GAME...

15 Sep 2010 8:51 AM
Don from PA/Delaware

Nice view of the past Steve, I didn't realize that Sec was born and raised in VA, which is interesting my older brother who owns the "Big Red" painting by LeRoy Neiman went to college very close to there a few years before the great horse was born. Will have to share that as well

15 Sep 2010 8:58 AM
Bill Daly

Wonderful piece, Steve.  Just cannot get enough of Secretariat and the people that helped him become a legend. I've been waiting 37 years now for a thrill like the one he gave the world that day in June '73. I've seen a lot of great performances since then, but nothing to compare with what he did that day. Indelible.

15 Sep 2010 9:04 AM
Susan

I frequently drive by the site of the old Meadow Farm, as I keep my horses nearby.  It is now "The Meadow Event Park," the site of the Virginia State Fair, as well as of many equine and other activities - better than becoming a housing development, I guess.  When they were converting the farm to the "event park," I took an old fence board from a pile when they were pulling down the old fencing.  I still haven't figured out what to do with my memento.

Steve, as always a beautiful article.

15 Sep 2010 9:25 AM
Dianna in DM

I too look at a horses pedigree to see if it traces back to secretariat.  I watched him win his races on TV.  It's too bad that the bloodlines of Man O War are thinning out over time also.

I love your stories and they do bring back memories.  Thank you

Dianna in DM.    

You

15 Sep 2010 9:31 AM
Rider17

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to the people who helped make Secretariat the greatest race horse to ever set foot on the track.

"The Horse That God Built" is VERY good.  I highly recommend it to anyone that loves Big Red!

15 Sep 2010 9:40 AM
Stephanie

I felt as if I were there reading this, excellent excellent reading...write a book :)

15 Sep 2010 9:48 AM
sentinel

You always bring me to tears and from reading the posts, I'm not alone.  How lucky we all are to have you to remind us of the glorious past.

15 Sep 2010 9:58 AM
dg

Steve, I walked over the farm years ago.  All was quiet, and the barns empty, but remaining still, along with the training track, etc.  The small white foaling barn as seen in Raymie Woolfe's book, still there too.

It was a beautiful day, and I felt I was, indeed, walking on hallowed ground.  At the time, from the highway, the only thing visable unless one knew they were at Secretariat's birthplace, was the historical marker outside the farm's entrance.

Thank you for your beautiful writing; I look forward to seeing  the film.

The farm has been preserved from residential development.  It is now home to the Virginia State Fair, equine events, and other special events.

As it is today.

www.meadoweventpark.com

www.co.caroline.va.us/.../secretariat.html

(This is an excerpt from the above link, a piece written in 2003 regarding the planning of The Meadow Event Park as it is today.)

Meadow Farm, Secretariat's birthplace, has been preserved from residential development through the purchase of the property by the State Fair of Virginia (Atlantic Rural Exposition). Now known as The Meadow Event Park, the land will be kept intact and dedicated to the Commonwealth's Agricultural Fair with an expanded equestrian component. Moreover, through working with the County's Board of Supervisors, the Event Park will develop displays to keep the legacy and legend of Secretariat alive in Caroline County and Virginia. The Event Park will be open, tentatively, in 2009. Those who appreciate the great champion should visit Caroline County and the Meadow Events Park.

15 Sep 2010 10:01 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks to all for your updates on the farm and your recollections. Twilight Tear, wonderful memories. It's great that the farm is least being put to good use and still has horses and equine events.

Sue Helferty, of course, I remember you. Boy it's been a long time. That was naother lifetime ago. I wish you the best of luck with your breeding and writing. Please keep in touch.

Chris , Sentinel, and Sunnysunrise, I appreciate your kind words.

15 Sep 2010 10:16 AM
sampson

You are an artist with the printed word. I felt as if I were standing there, breathing in the dust and brushing away the cobwebs of history. This article brought tears for what has become of a golden time and place.

15 Sep 2010 10:24 AM
J. Taylor

I second the very first comment...brilliance again Mr. Haskin

15 Sep 2010 10:29 AM
Judi in Richmond, VA

For all you Secretariat lovers, there is a new book that should be on your "must have" list. It is called “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend” by Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery (Tweedy) and granddaughter of Christopher Chenery, who founded the racing stable. Co-authored with Leeanne Ladin, this pictorial history tells not only Secretariat’s story, but the story of an enduring piece of land where an “empire built on broodmares” eventually produced an immortal son. It has a website (http://secretariatsmeadow.com) and a FaceBook page. And even though most of the original buildings and track are gone, The Meadow is still a very special place for all that love Secretariat and Riva Ridge, and one of his great grandsons, Rainaway is a resident there. Covert Action, a grandson of Big Red, is also in the area and makes special appearances. I feel very blessed to have such an important piece of racing history/legacy in my back yard and am thankful that the State Fair of Virginia (SFVA -a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization not affiliated with state government) purchased the land and is hosting agricultural, equine and other events at the site instead of the land becoming "developed" for shopping malls or other industrial endeavors. Now that would break my heart. I encourage all to go to the Meadow Event Park site (meadoweventpark.com/home) and poke around for pics and news about what is currently going on. And don't forget to get that book I mentioned earlier! ;-)

15 Sep 2010 10:48 AM
Dale

This was a lovely article and I recommend to everyone the book that Penny Tweedy's daughter wrote: Secretariat's Meadow. It is out now in hardcover, cocktail size and forms the basis of the movie Secretariat. It deals with the time before Secretariat; his and Riva RIdge's careers and the subsequent and to me very sad demise of much of the horse farm. Some of it remains and you can still see the barn where Secretariat was.

Buy it, it truly is a beautiful book. I am not ashamed to say I was so moved by it that I cried.

15 Sep 2010 10:50 AM
Slew

Wow, Steve, way to turn on the water works!  So few prose writers have the soul of a poet.  You certainly do.  Thank you for the reverie.  It would seem to be a cautionary tale that too much passes too quickly, and we are left with a tenuous grasp on strands of memories that once there was an immortality in a legend of greatness.  Thank you Steve, for keeping Big Red so real for another generation.

15 Sep 2010 10:51 AM
Pat

Steve, Thank you so much for re-printing this article. You have once again made me feel so fortunate that I actually lived in the time when Secretariat ran and won the 1973 Triple Crown. I also feel fortunate that that I live in a time where I am able to enjoy your writing. I agree with Howard Gregory when he said, “A horse like Secretariat. That will never happen no more.” I also agree with Ruffianruns when he said, "A writer like Steve Haskin.  That will never happen no more." You realize that you can never retire!

15 Sep 2010 10:54 AM
Pauline

Has anyone ever thought of making the old farm into a race horse retirement home.  Wonderful article about my favorite horse.  

15 Sep 2010 10:58 AM
needler in Virginia

I apologize for shouting but YOU MUST GET THE NEW BOOK "SECRETARIAT'S MEADOW".  It's the history of the farm and the people and, of course, the horse. Brand new and written by Penny's daughter and Leeanne Ladin, you can get it for a good price at Amazon. It is FILLED with great pictures of everything!! The book is a perfect extension of Steve's article and everyone who loves the Big Red Horse should have it

By the way, Steve..we're going to have you bronzed!

Keep on writing and passing your words on to us; they remind us of the magic underneath the crummy stuff.

Cheers and safe trips.

15 Sep 2010 11:07 AM
Golden Gate

Thank you Steve how absolutely beautiful and moving to hear the words of past grooms. They are so very important to the well being of the horses we race and it is nice you honored them. None of us in racing should overlook their contribution.

15 Sep 2010 11:16 AM
Gary

As always from Steve another heart touching article. I think we----- within this month-- will be OUR TURN for the world to see our passion for this sport in the film Secretariat. I loved this horse. Rooted for him with all my heart.Secretariat is the best ever. Riva Ridge is a part of this story not mentioned but you know anyone in the know understands and respects the accomplishment the tandem did for the farm and the sport.

15 Sep 2010 11:26 AM
Sue

OMG!!! Brought tears to my eyes to read this...History is wonderful and sad at the same time...

15 Sep 2010 11:37 AM
Derby Linda

Many tears and goosebumps after reading this article.  You are amazing too, Steve.  I am so thankful that I was alive and was able to watch this great champion run.

15 Sep 2010 11:46 AM
txhorsefan

Whatever I write at this point may not even be coherent because I am overcome by emotion.  First from reading your wonderful article, Steve, and second from so many of the beautiful comments and memories of those who saw Secretariat.  I am in complete agreement with that first comment by Ruffianruns.  Absolutely correct!  

I have read the Nack book on Secretariat and "The Horse God Built" by Scanlan, which was wonderful also, by the way, but I swear, Steve, neither one of them could evoke the emotions of the reader or bring the story to life with mental images as you can.  When you write, you take us *there* with you, and no author could hope to do more.  Its as if the reader can tell that your heart is truly in it.  Your devoted fans ask you to do a book frequently and your return is that there are so few willing to publish, but oh, if only that were not the case.  

Sorry to babble on so much and say so little, but thank you for sharing this story with us again.  My family just does not get it.  One of the reasons that I'm so intense on following the stars of today is because even though Secretariat did happen in my lifetime, something that I could have been a part of, I was totally engrossed in another world, being a young mom and raising a family, completely unaware that such greatness was happening.  Oh, I remember hearing about the Triple Crown and some of it brings back slight memories in passing, but to read what everyone saw and felt at that time makes me regret what I missed out on and determine to do my best to enjoy those horses we do have today.  Even though they might not compare to Secretariat, through this blog, your writings and the fans who comment here, I'm able to experience them.  Thank you.

15 Sep 2010 11:51 AM
Steve Haskin

Wow, thank you all for your beautiful comments. I appreciate all of them. Needler, if I was ever bronzed, it would be the first time they left the sheet over it.

15 Sep 2010 11:54 AM
Jonathan

There are all kinds of Capital necessary to be in the Thoroughbred Industry - Obviously the money is necessary to create a business and usually is rewarded or the business would not continue.

It is many times the people "capital" that makes the business model work.  This is many times forgotten and it is nice to see this pointed out in a discret way - for sure some were remembered, but most times the majority end up like most race horses - out of sight, out of mind!  

15 Sep 2010 11:57 AM
Steve Haskin

btw, to show how big Secretariat was in his time, I have full-sized copies of the front and back pages of the Sunday New York Daily News the day after Secretariat won the Belmont. I wish there was a way I could show it, but the entire front page -- and it was rare for any sport to even be mentioned on the front page, never mind the entire page -- read as follows: In huge capital letters at the top of the page was one word -- "SECRETARIAT!"

Below, it read "Sweeps Triple Crown With a Record-smashing Belmont." And below that was an under the rail shot of the finish.

The back page Headline read: "SECRETARIAT BY 31!" Below that, taking up the remainder of the back page was a four-photo collage -- an overhead shot and three winner's circle shots.

Inside were numerous stories, and more photos in the centerfold.

You have to see it to believe it. One day I'll try to have it printed somewhere.

15 Sep 2010 12:08 PM
Pat

Steve, I'm sure this isn't an original thought, but, you know how they have the FOBs (Friends of Barbaro).... why not the FOSs (Friends of Secretariat). I wonder how many people would like to get on a group list to simply reminisce like they seem to be doing on this blog. Just a thought. See what you've started!

15 Sep 2010 12:13 PM
Cleone

I am deeply envious of all of you who got to see Big Red in person!  And getting to touch him.  Amazing.  

Ah, well, I got to watch him live on TV, so that's something.  :)  He was such a remarkable athlete.  Wow.

15 Sep 2010 12:20 PM
ruffianruns

Steve -

I am too emotional, still, to really comment on the content of the article, but I just saw your last comment from 12:08 PM.  Can you take your "cheap" camera and PHOTOGRAPH the front page of the Daily News and post it?  I'll have to see if I can find any Daily News Historical Achives.  Sorry to give you an assignment - I know you're busy - but you brought it up!

15 Sep 2010 12:22 PM
Cleone

I'd love to see that paper, Steve.  As I know you recall, but others may not, only a week or two before the Belmont, he appeared on the covers of three (count 'em!  THREE!) major magazines - TIME, NEWSWEEK and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.  I've got all three of them safely tucked away.  

15 Sep 2010 12:22 PM
Steve Haskin

ruffian and Cleone, I'll see what I can do, but it wont capture the enormity of it because the original is big. But it'll be better than nothing, just so you can see it.

15 Sep 2010 12:30 PM
jon showtime

thank you, thank you, thank you...

just to relive those magnificent days sends chills up my spine.

the articles are wonderful and the stories of the glory days brings it all into focus today.

many many thanks

15 Sep 2010 12:41 PM
Samantha

Secretariat...smart, beautiful and fast, a powerful combination, there will never be another one like him. I enjoyed this article,...for those of you who teared up while reading it as I did,...you get it".

15 Sep 2010 12:54 PM
Love 'em all!

Have thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of this reprint ... and more than once, I might add.  Oh, and the pics are priceless.

Mr. Haskin, somehow, someway, you must keep us entertained with more Secretariat stories.  His story lives on and on, and no better writer than you to keep us happy reading every word ... over and over.

Did a little googling after reading the reprint and found a small pic of Dr. Olive Britt taken just a few days before her death in 2006.  She would've been 88-89 years old.  Seems she has a TB named in honor of her nickname,

"Miss Oil", whom she helped with the breeding.

www.vtablog.org/.../colonials-opening-day-sound.html

www.pedigreequery.com/miss+oil  

My sincerest thanks for the reprint, pics, and all the wonderful info shared by the folks who knew him best ... his grooms.

As an added note: if we can have six "Rocky" films, then, surely, we can have two or three more Secretariat films, huh?  Never hurts to ask.  

15 Sep 2010 1:00 PM
Runfast159

Having just been permitted to "tour" the house I grew up in and left behind 28 years ago, I can really connect with the emotions that Charlie Ross felt when he visited The Meadow in 2001.

The memories are probably very fresh, but time has taken a toll on what remains.  It's a shame that portions of the farm cannot be preserved for historical value, some kind of monument to Secretariat.  I would love to be able to visit it some day.

The physical essence of Secretariat will never grace a track again, and I sincerely doubt the world will ever have anything like him again.  However, your incredible writing keeps him alive for those of us who could only remember him in bits and pieces from a long ago childhood, but continue to this day to idolize the copper chestnut with the amazing stride.

15 Sep 2010 1:06 PM
Pointgiven

Hi Steve,

Are any of your photos for sale? I would love to have one of his Wood Workout.

15 Sep 2010 1:10 PM
Darlene

I got to see Secretariat July 1989 his groom gave me a lock of his hair which I still have in a frame with his picture. It still doesnt seem real that he is gone there will never be another like him He was a champion that only comes along once in a lifetime cant wait to see the movie Secretariat may be gone but he will never be forgotten

15 Sep 2010 1:13 PM
Joanne Hammond

One of the best articles I have ever read. Hope you win many awards for it. Beautiful writing as always. Prose is SO underestimated in today's world.

15 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
murray smith

thankyou for posting this...a wonderful story of days gone by..oh how i wish we lived in that era again of horseracing

15 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
Debbie O'Connor

Steve,

What a GREAT article.  Big Red is my all time favorite.  Why don't you write a book about him?  I'm sure everyone who loves and reveres Secretariat's memory (there must be at least a million out there) would love to read another book about him.  I know I would.

15 Sep 2010 1:33 PM
Steve Haskin

OK, I have sent those two headline photos in to be added at the end of the blog. I'll let you know when it's been posted. I also posted the two photos on my Facebook page.

15 Sep 2010 1:34 PM
The Deacon

Giddyup:

       Jim Croce died in 1973, the same year Secretariat swept the Triple Crown. I thought of that great song "Photographs and Memories" after I saw the pictures of Secretariat taken by Steve.

Here is a point I wish to make, there have so many horses over the years that had amazing talent but because of injuries their careers were cut short and their greatness was never fulfilled. Horses like Graustark, Forli, Holy Bull, Majestic Prince, Landaluce, Ruffian, to name a few. Ruffian was the most acclaimed as she was able to win 11 straight. There were so many more, who knows maybe another Big Red was out there somewhere. Nevertheless Big Red was one of a kind, and because he was the 1st Triple Crown winner since Citation, he touched folks in a way that many can't even imagine..........  

15 Sep 2010 1:39 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Joanne, I never submit my stories for awards, but my editor, unbeknownst to me, submitted this for an American Horse Publications Award (they have an annual awards dinner) and it won first place for feature writing.

Point Given, if you're on Facebook and "friend" me, you can download whichever photos you want and make prints from them.

15 Sep 2010 1:53 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Murray. Keep looking for that Home Run horse. You've nailed your share. Hope you're enjoying the sale.

15 Sep 2010 1:57 PM
SUE

My father was one of those rare men who didn't give a darn about sports. We watched the Olympics every 4 years, and I remember him saying it was "just wrong" when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn. Other than that, he just wasn't interested.

But he and I would always watch the Kentucky Derby. From the time I was a little kid, probably as early as they ever showed it on TV, we watched every year. I am now in my 60s so that's a long time ago. When Secretariat ran in the Belmont, I was married but had come back home for a visit so I got to watch it with my father. As Secretariat opened up in the stretch, dad said "oh my God, you will never see this again!"

Reading this article I remember that time, Secretariat and my father,now both gone. Watching that magnificent horse with daddy is one of my favorite memories.

thankyou for these wonderful articles and pictures.

15 Sep 2010 1:59 PM
mooks2k

Just received the book SECRETARIAT'S MEADOW by Kate Tweedy(daughter of Penny) who was 20 at the time he won the TC. Received it yesterday and finished it the same day. Great history and great pictures. Get it, you won't be disappointed. Thank you Steve for the great writing.

15 Sep 2010 2:02 PM
Steve Haskin

Those two photos of the Sunday New York Daily News headlines the day after the Belmont have been added to this blog. Check them out. They're pretty remarkable and show how big Secretariat and racing were back then.

15 Sep 2010 2:05 PM
Susan

Thanks Steve,

You are one of the best at reminding us just why our sport is so special.

15 Sep 2010 2:09 PM
Love 'em all!

Have thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of this reprint ... and more than once, I might add.  Oh, and the pics are priceless.

Mr. Haskin, somehow, someway, you must keep us entertained with more Secretariat stories.  His story lives on and on, and no better writer than you to keep us happy reading every word ... over and over.

Did a little googling after reading the reprint and found a small pic of Dr. Olive Britt shortly before her death in 2006.  She would've been 88-89 years old at the time.  There is a TB named in honor of her nickname, "Miss Oil", whom she helped with the breeding but died before the foal was born.

My sincerest thanks for the reprint, pics, and all the wonderful info shared by the folks who knew him best ... his grooms.

As an added note: if we can have six "Rocky" films, then, surely, we can have two or three more Secretariat films, right?  Never hurts to ask.  

15 Sep 2010 2:10 PM
Susie

Steve, thank you.  Wonderful story.  And thanks to the other posters for sharing your memories of meeting Secretariat.  Wish my young teenage self had been paying attention when he was running, but didn't fall in love with horse racing until later in life.  How regrettable.

15 Sep 2010 2:28 PM
Gladiator

Secretariat was awesome. By far my favorite race horse of all time.

My favorite quote of all time was by Woody Broun after the Belmont Stakes he said-

"If this was a car race he would have lapped em"

15 Sep 2010 2:36 PM
Cleone

Thanks for the newspaper photos, Steve.  Of course, now I want to read the articles. :)  

15 Sep 2010 2:42 PM
GJU

Another great story, Steve. This gets me even more excited for the Secretariat movie! Love all the pictures you've posted on both blogs. Great, great days. Secretariat was something very special!

15 Sep 2010 2:44 PM
LeeAnne

Thank you for reprinting this wonderful article and to everyone who responded with meeting Secretariat stories of their own.

15 Sep 2010 3:14 PM
ruffianruns

Steve!  Thanks so much for the Daily News photos!  Awe inspiring.  Like Cleone, now I want to read the articles, too!  LOL!  No, I am satisfied!

15 Sep 2010 3:48 PM
Mike S

What a fantastic article to read.

THANK YOU Steve!

15 Sep 2010 3:48 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I love the reprinted articles. There have been times it seems like we're waiting forever for a Steve Haskin article. At times like that, slap an ol' article out here !!! The photos have been really special. Would like to see more of those too. I can't watch Secretariat's Belmont without my eyes watering, and getting goose bumps. This has been special. He has always been at the top of my list. It's great hearing from the guys that used to work there with Big Red. That farm must have been something special. 2000 acres and Secretariat. I wish I could have cleaned the stall.

15 Sep 2010 3:54 PM
Vickie

I loved your story and the comments of your readers. Several of them brought tears to my eyes. I watched Big Red on television win the Triple Crown, and to this day, watching film of his races, brings tears, goose bumps, a lump to my throat and a smile to my face. The big red flame burns on!

15 Sep 2010 4:21 PM
Rocky

Thanks for the memories as I relive mine of that magnificent creature, watching his Belmont/Triple Crown win from a horse show in an open field on a little tv plugged into a cigarette lighter, of a visit to The Meadow in the '70s, thoughts from Penny Chenery about the next mating for Somethingroyal,...very sad that it's all coming apart.  What a beautiful story, Steve.  

15 Sep 2010 4:41 PM
Terry

Another great article by a great writer! So many memories, now saved forever thanks to your stories. Thank you, Steve.

15 Sep 2010 5:40 PM
slee

Thanks for another winner, Steve!

It's funny what one remembers about that spring.  I remember a story about Jack Nicklaus.  Heywood Hale Broun (of CBS Sports) told it, and then retold it in ESPN's retrospective on Secretariat a few years ago.  The story goes that Nicklaus went up the Broun later in the summer of 1973 and said to him, "you saw it, didn't you?  You were at Secretariat's Belmont, weren't you?"  and wanted Broun to tell him all about the day.

It turns out the Nicklaus watched it on tv.  As Secretariat entered the stretch, some 20 lengths to the good, and still pouring it on, Nicklaus started to cry.  And he didn't stop until the race was well over.  Nicklaus?  Mr. "no pressure on me"?  Broun told him about the day and then said something like - do you know why you cried, Jack?

and Nicklaus said no.

And Broun said - because you know perfection when you see it.  You've always tried to be the perfect golfer, the perfect strategist, the perfect technique.  And when you saw Secretariat, you knew he was IT.  And we might never see it again.

15 Sep 2010 6:07 PM
Texas Thorne

I was a child in Texas when Secretariat won the Triple Crown.  I watched the Belmont in my living room on our old black & white TV.  I cried with joy, and to this day tell people that Secretariat WAS my childhood as I loved him like nothing else.  I was so blessed to get to see him twice at Claiborne, once in 1986 and once in 1987.  In 1986, my cousin and I drove out to Claiborne the evening before our "official" visit.  We found a place beside a road where we could see Secretariat in his paddock.  We were thrilled when he lifted his head from grazing and looked at us.  My zoom lens was able to capture him, and I'm glad it did.  The next morning I was putting a new roll of film into my camera in Claiborne's office, and in my excitement and hurry, loaded it backwards.  None of the pictures I took of Secretariat that morning came out.  That was one of life's big disappointments!  But I do remember Clay (his groom) walking him out and the awe of seeing him for the first time.  Fortunately, I was able to go back the following year, camera properly loaded, and I got many wonderful pictures.  Secretariat was in his paddock that October afternoon and Clay took us out to the paddock to get him.  I was able to get a picture of Secretariat running up to the fence to meet us.  It's beautiful!  At one point I stroked my fingers through his mane and got a hair which I treasure.  Most people would think that silly, but I know that everyone commenting on this blog understands :)  I'm not a world traveler by any means, but I am so glad I took the time and spent the money as a college kid to make those trips to see Secretariat!  They were highlights in my life.

15 Sep 2010 6:13 PM
Col Charles M Matasich (Derbyman)

Steve, you are racings best writer and have been for years, but the Big Red story is your best and for a handicaper you are the best too.

15 Sep 2010 6:30 PM
Ida Lee

WONDERFUL!! I'M ORIGINALLY FROM NEW YORK - I REMEMBER THE HEADLINE WELL. AND THAT BABY PHOTO!! HOW PRECIOUS! 0F COURSE HE GREW UP TO BE ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS EVER. HE IS TO THIS DAY ONE OF THE GREAT LOVES OF MY LIFE OF ANY SPECIES... THANKS AGAIN...

15 Sep 2010 6:46 PM
Steve Haskin

Great story, Texas Thorne. That must have been a long year waiting to return. Considering the great shots you got, it may have worked out for the best. Secretariat sure did have an effect on people.

Thank you very much, Col., but I think you might get an argument from people regarding handicapper :)

Slee, Broun had a great line at the Belmont (I have the complete CBS telecasts of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont on video). The entire shows back then were live -- no features at all. Broun and Frank Wright were looking at Sham, and Frank said, "He looks like a million dollars." And Broun replied, "Yes, Frank he does look like a million dollars. Unfortunately this next horse looks like six million dollars, with 80 thousand thrown in for dessert."

15 Sep 2010 6:59 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D. getting all teary-eyed and goose bumpy? Hah. Actually, so do I :). I even got goose bumps watching the movie, despite Keeneland and "Oh Happy Day."

Thanks again to everyone for your comments.

15 Sep 2010 7:04 PM
LauraS

Steve, thank you so much for these retrospective pieces. I was 12 in 1973, a horse-crazy girl in Iowa who had no hope of ever having one of my own. I began following racing seriously in 1971 (Canonero II) and remember Riva's TC races. I watched all the races that were broadcast, was the only girl I knew with subscriptions to Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, and kept racing scrapbooks that I still have, including many articles on an upcoming 2yo named Secretariat. I saw his Belmont at a camping rally, after desperately looking for someone with a tv - remember this was 1973 and camping for most was still relatively primitive! and saw the race on a 9" screen. In 1974, we were scheduled to have the national camping rally in KY - and I begged and pleaded with my parents to take a side trip to the farms. They agreed, but a month before the trip our camper was destroyed by a tornado and we didn't get to go - and there went my chance to see Secretariat. Finances never permitted a trip after that and my fandom is to this day mostly restricted to tv and now the 'net. A long-planned trip to San Diego in August ended ONE DAY before Zenyatta raced at Del Mar, so I guess my record of near misses still stands!  Thank you thank you for your articles. It's apparent that you are a fan of horse RACING, not horse GAMBLING - unlike so many others on the racing sites. I look forward to your upcoming blogs and articles - especially on the Breeder's Cup.

15 Sep 2010 8:04 PM
kjenkins

The stall where Secretariat was born has been preserved by the Virginia State Fair who bought the Meadow.  It can still be viewed thanks to the VSF, who cared enough to preserve it's memory.  The original Chenery house has been gone for awhile, but the mansion, built with many memories of Secretariat is used as a meeting hall etc.  My sincerely and deep condolences go to the Gaffney family, for their loss of Jim, one of Secretariat's exercise riders.  I knew him well and he was a wonderful man and person.  Rest in peace, Jim.

15 Sep 2010 8:14 PM
Aluminaut

Hi Steve,

I read this before and had the same reaction this time.  Thanks for the memories.  

Gosh, you were foaled in a different year, but just a few days after Secretariat's birthday. Did you two ever shared a cake?

Best wishes to all, and we do have the big mare to watch now.  And I think Invasor was a great great horse.  I'm not comparing; this is acknowledgment.  We are still so fortunate.

15 Sep 2010 8:24 PM
Aluminaut

Steve H,

What I meant was--Have you two ever shared a cake?

Someone mentioned that they had a board from The Meadow.  When I finished college, and was living with a couple friends at our empty ranch, we made a bar out of some of the remaining wood.  It was the "Blue Haze" bar and travelled with me to L.A.  It's in the back of my huge free-standing garage, but it hasn't seen any haze in over 30 years.

15 Sep 2010 8:29 PM
EarlySpeed

I am still kicking myself for not taking advantage of an opportunity to see Secretariat 32 years ago. I was working for a Saddle Horse trainer out of the venerable old Delaine Farm, and in 1978, we all trailered two horses down to Lexington to be shown and the other sold at Tattersalls. We stayed a week in Lexington. I almost literally camped out in the barn with a cot in the tackroom. The horse in the stall next to the tackroom was a stall pacer with chains, so I went to bed at night with a whip in my hand, and every time he paced with chains rattling, I hit the side of his stall with a whip. That quieted him down for about ten seconds. That meant I didn't get much sleep at night, which is probably why I didn't venture out much even though I had access to the trainer's pickup truck and permission to use it. If I had gone to see Secretariat, and he delivered a stick to me, it would be hanging in my living room today! I LOVED that horse! He has to have had a really neat personality to pick up sticks and offer them to people!

15 Sep 2010 8:31 PM
Robin from Maryland

Wonderful story again.  Had the pleasure of visiting Claiborne in '07.  For me it was a trip of a lifetime.  Of course Eddington was residing in His stall at that time, but I did manage to get several pics of the nameplate on the stall door.  In the office there were several bridles and halters of champions long gone and I just  had to touch everyone.  The high point of the tour was a visit to the graveyard.  Once again I paid homage to those long gone.  At Secretariats grave I placed one red rose as I said a silent prayer for the horse that changed racing forever.  I have a picture with my husband and I at His grave that our groom/tour guide was kind enough to take.  I actually had tears in my eyes thinking back to how great He was and wishing that I had traveled here years ago.  The history of Claiborne is spectacular and they are wonderful hosts. I concur with the others - The Meadow should be rehabed.  I was lucky to have seen most of His races on TV at the time.  It is doubtful that we will see another like Him.  But I, like so many others have memories of Him each time I close my eyes.  Perhaps, just perhaps the racing Gods may find it in their hearts to send us another.  I can only hope.  

15 Sep 2010 9:06 PM
SilverCharm

Oh Happy Day was sung at my wedding.  It's a beutiful song.  Thank you for the memories of Big Red. First time I seeing a pic of him as a foal.  Too many horses we love just disappear to breeding farms.  These memories need to be kept for all future generations.

15 Sep 2010 9:10 PM
Laura -Into_the_Mystic

Just one of many that am in awe of your work Steve. You are akin to Laura Hillenbrandt in the way you write. You take us right there and we can almost feel the winter winds blowing across our face.

15 Sep 2010 9:27 PM
Pioneer

I always love the 'story behind the story' such as yours depicted, the grooms etc.  But the description of The Meadow falling into disrepair. Aaaahhhhh.  My hair stood up.  I could visualise the good old days thru your words.  I went to Windfields twice in the past yr & believe me, I spent more time passing my hands over the wood on the (now empty)stall doors & thinking of the stories these stalls could tell.

15 Sep 2010 9:34 PM
nina

Great article. Kate Chenery Tweedy just wrote a great book called Secreatriat's Meadow . It gives you the whole story about the Meadow and all the people involved in breeding and racing those great horses.

15 Sep 2010 9:38 PM
Nancy

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have no additional comments to add, as everyone above said everything there is to say in praise of your writing and of our love for Secretariat.  Thank you to everyone for sharing your own unique moments with Secretariat.

Just a note for all of you above, if you want a real treat - get the book 'The Most Glorious Crown' by Marvin Drager. He chronicles all the Triple Crown winners, which of course includes our Secretariat, but the best of all is to see him racing - I'm standing and cheering him on as though it is just happening and I'm crying at the same time - such is the emotion he brings out of us.  

For those of you who live in NY or visit the city often, here are a few thoughts I had about the Daily News coverage of Secretariat's Triple Crown: The Daily News might have copies archived away, or the New York Public Library (Main Branch mid-town, I think 42nd St.) will probably have it on microfiche.

As for myself, I'm printing Steve's article and inserting it as an addendum in one of the books large enough to hold it unfolded.

Best,

Nancy

15 Sep 2010 10:57 PM
clarinetmama

I was born at the tail end of 1979, so sadly, I don't have ANY memories from that decade of horse racing.   Thank you for your wonderful article and all of the stories that have allowed me to live vicariously through you.  I'm more than slightly obsessed with horse racing and have a 30+ year old ex racehorse, who is my "special old man."  I can only hope that you will put your moving words into book form one of these days...  :)

15 Sep 2010 11:18 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

  It takes every bit of courage I have to not break down balling like a baby EVERY time I watch the replay of Secretariat's Belmont. One time I didn't succeed. That was the first time I saw the replay online after not seeing it for many years. Not quite balling like a baby, but tears running down my face. The race call, everything, was perfect. It's the only time I've ever seen perfection. Not that I'm into perfection, but to see it once in my life is pretty amazing. I think the tears come when you know he has to slow down but he doesn't. It's one of those things that you don't think is possible, then it happens. I think with a horse doing it, it's a lot more special than a man made thing, like a trip to the moon. That didn't do a thing for me, although I know it did for many, when they saw that live. All I have to do is THINK about seeing that race and the tears well up, and my nose starts running. "What's wrong? "Nothing's wrong. I just watched Secretariat's Belmont." When I watched it originally, live on TV, it was like I was in shock. Shocked, stunned, smiling, laughing. The tears came years later.

15 Sep 2010 11:29 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm so glad these blogs and photos have stirred up so many stories, emotions, and memories. I appreciate all the comments

Laura, it's a shame you never got to see him, but I'll bet you're the only person who had a tornado prevent a visit to see Secretariat. Thanks for sharing.

KJenkins, Jimmy Gaffney was major part of Secretariat's early days on the racetrack. It's unfortunate he sort of got lost in the overall story.

Laura into the Mystic, that's a heckuva compliment and I thank you, but Laura H is in another class.

15 Sep 2010 11:46 PM
Steve Haskin

So, Dr. D is just an old softy. I think I got you beat. I bawled seeing Old Yeller and Born Free. I can't watch them anymore. And I still get all teary eyed at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's when a soaking wet Cat peeks out from behind a box in the alley and starts meowing and then snuggles up in between Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard as they play "Moon River." Gets me every time.

16 Sep 2010 12:00 AM
Kitty Darst

I have a couple of photographs of me feeding carrots to Secretariat while he was at Claiborne.  At that time, my hair was very nearly Secretariat's color!  I wonder if that was why he was so nice, though I understand he always appreciated his fans.

16 Sep 2010 12:22 AM
John T

Being brought up in Ireland I have

lots of favourite horses of all time but there is no question about

it when it comes to Secretariat it

is memories of a racehorse that is hard to beat.Thank-you for your story on this great horse.

  Good news on the young horse Frankel,the colt is so well within

himself that it now looks he will run in both the Royal Lodge Stakes

at Ascot and the Racing Post Trophy

at Doncater.

16 Sep 2010 12:31 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

  The song Born Free is one of the great tear jerkers. Most of the time we fight like men to keep those tears back, but doesn't it feel good when you give up the fight? I'm pretty sure there were a few tears the first time I saw Casablanca. Zenyatta's Classic brought a few. Casablanca, "No way, are you kidding me? How can you let her go !!!" Did anyone else think they'd get together later in New York? Old Yeller- I can't remember how I reacted, but I sure loved that movie as a kid. How about Pollyanna with Haley Mills, one of the top three child actors of all time. That kid in Old Yeller was something, and he was in Pollyanna too, and many others. Kevin Corcoran. The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson (scared the heck out of me), and he was Toby Tyler too.

16 Sep 2010 1:01 AM
Kat

I was living in Maryland at the time, and an advertisement for the first Marlboro Cup had a full page ad in the Philidelphia Inquirer (I believe that was the paper).  It featured a picture of Secretariat.  I still have that page somewhere with the Time and Newsweek with his picture.

Thanks for the pictures and story! Racing did get more coverage then, do you think some of it had to do with Secretariat's level of achievement transcending the "sports section"?

16 Sep 2010 2:02 AM
Rachel

That's OK Steve and Dr. D, my gruff, tough, former cop, deer hunter husband was watching Charlotte's web with our then 3 year-old son...at the end of the movie he came outside onto the porch where I was, tears streaming down his face. I froze in fear thinking he'd just gotten a call that someone in our family or friends was hurt or had had a heart attack or something worse...instead he looks at me and says "You didn't tell me the spider DIES!"

16 Sep 2010 6:09 AM
sodapopkid

Well, As usual I can never prepare myself for your blogs, Steve Haskin.

Big Red, Now, what did you have to write about such a sentimental favorite of the equine world.

I never learn with your writings, Do I?  I start off just reading quickly through them ,and then , Damn, before I know it I am pulled into the story with all emotions gaspiing,  Why do you do this Mr. Haskin?   I can never prepare myself for your stories.

And you even know how to hit a guy's emotions too.  Secretariat will always be a story emotion grabber.  You just know how to add that "ommph" to a story,  a puller- inner to the story,  Once you start reading it , You can't quit reading it until the end and by then you're fighting back your emotions.

You are a one of kind writer , Steve.  

You are what you call,  and "EXCELLENT" journalist.  You really know how to write a story.

The problem is , I never prepare myself for them.......

16 Sep 2010 6:19 AM
tfly

If copyrights wouldn't be infringed,it would be great if you could copy those broadcasts of the TC races and sell them!   And they sure would sell.   Perhaps a portion of the funds could be donated to those seeking a cure for laminitis, which claimed our Big Red.   Just a thought.....

Add my heatfelt thanks to all others

16 Sep 2010 6:55 AM
cher

When you see all the six race wonders, all the break downs, all the hype and BS now connected with race horses and stallion, it all makes Big Red even more amazing.  There will NEVER be another like him!

16 Sep 2010 7:13 AM
mrw31

Good writing can often take me from being just interested to becoming a real fan of a horse.  That happened to me with Secretariat - loved him because of his incomparable work in 72/73 but I really turned into a fan after reading Williams Nack's book.  I also became a huge fan of John Henry after reading your book.  Thanks to your book, I am now a regular visitor to the KY Horsepark and had the privilege of seeing John Henry 3 times before he passed on.  

16 Sep 2010 8:34 AM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

No wonder this article won an award. What a beautiful piece of writing! Bittersweet reminder of how quickly time passes and attempts to erase all traces of glorious moments.

Thank you for keeping the memories alive through your words and the photos you share with us. Thank you also to all who have commented and shared what Secretariat meant to them at that time.

These two blogs have brought out all that is positive in horseracing fans and are a pleasure to read from beginning to end. What a treasure!

16 Sep 2010 9:54 AM
Kim

Thanks for the reprint. Since I was born on Derby day, and being from Kentucky, it has always been a special time for me. I was very young when Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I still remember sitting in the floor watching him win these races.

When they opened Claiborne Farm to the public a few days after his death, a group of coworkers and I made the trek to his grave site on our lunch hour. I don't know that I have seen so many flowers. There were cars there from Canada to Florida to California. It is amazing how this horse was loved and brought so many people from so many places. It was definitely an experience I will never forget. I've been back to his grave a couple of times. It is a beautiful, peaceful place near his old paddock.

I also had the honor of meeting Ms. Chenery when she lived in Lexington. She is a wonderful, kind lady. Too bad there aren't many like here these days.

16 Sep 2010 10:15 AM
mz

OK - time to get in on this.  I only ever saw Secretariat on TV but I still remember that after his Belmont, I had to drive to pick up my sister from work (part-time -- we were both in school but I had the driver's licence) and the day was sunny and beautiful but I was driving STUNNED.  Still stunned from what he did.  He sort of hit all of us with one of those "where were you when Kennedy was shot" moments -- we will always remember where we were for Secretariat.

p.s.  I also cried near the end of Beauty and the Beast, when the Beast died.  I took the kidlets (when they were kidlets) and I'm bawling and the (then) 4YO is comforting me "Don't worry Zia ("auntie"), it's OK.  He'll probably get better. It's a movie."  4YO wisdom -- at that time, all the movies she went to had happy endings.

16 Sep 2010 10:17 AM
Steve Haskin

Beautiful words, Zookeeper. Thank you.

16 Sep 2010 10:47 AM
ruffianruns

Steve and Dr D - I have to admit now that I am in love with you both!  I still get teary eyed when I hear the song or the words "Born Free."  Old Yeller?  Forget it.  Another book and movie - I have both - that gets me is "Where the Red Fern Grows."  For both of you, your empathy comes through in your writing and your posts, and I really, really appreciate it as it seems everyone does.

Rachel - Catching up this morning on the blog, I was crying after Steve and Dr D were trading sob stories and then read your post.  Oh no!  Not Charlotte's Web!  So, still crying, I finished reading your post and cannot stop laughing!  I had to call my mom and read her the entire last few posts with yours as the punch line.  Thanks.

tfly - I think that's a GREAT idea!  I would buy all three broadcasts!  And I would love for the money to go to study laminitis.

And Steve, that Broun story is wonderful!  In the SportsCentury documentary Broun talked about Secretariat's Derby and how each quarter was run faster than the last and said something like if he'd run another quarter he might have just taken to the air and flown!

16 Sep 2010 10:52 AM
Bob Fister

Big red was Man-O-War. There was only one big red, he died in 1947.

16 Sep 2010 12:46 PM
Lauracrown

Steve,

You are truly one of the best writers ever! Certainly, you are the greatest at writing about horses! Thank you so much for this blog and your feature with photos about the great Secretariat. I saw him at person at Saratoga when he ran in the Whitney. Thanks also to all those who are sharing details about visiting him and their own emotions and circumstances that have led them to becoming horse racing fans. I am hoping that the movie about him will do him justice as it is by Disney, although Disney was most magical during the days of Old Yeller. I still cry when I think of that film. And I cried reading your wonderful blog about Secretariat. Do you have any personal memories of Forego you could put in a blog for us sometime?

16 Sep 2010 1:12 PM
steve from st louis

Again, Steve, you give horse lovers instant affirmation after all these years, that we saw the "most perfect hoss." Through the outpouring of stories and memories from your loyal readers, the individual comments just add that much more weight to  this story, justifiably published again after eight years. Thanks to Steve and everyone for the own memories, some so elequent.

16 Sep 2010 1:44 PM
Richie

Steve, I've always thought that you and I are somehow related.(Of course we are not) The end of Breakfast at Tiffany's has always brought tears to my eyes and also a smile when they save Cat. I think I may watch it again later.

I have said many times that I don't like getting older but I am so glad that I was born when I was. It just had to be the best time to be a racing fanatic. I was at Big Red's Belmont and will never forget the feeling watching him coming down the stretch. I can remember everyone screaming and the millions of goosebumps I had. I have been to many Belmont's since than. It seems that after each one someone will say "That was a great race" I always look at the timer and say. "It was but do you realize that Secretariat would have beaten (add any name) by about 17 (or whatever) lengths" Lest we forget. Thanks as always for your fine writing. I reread Kelso last week and enjoyed it as much as ever.  

16 Sep 2010 2:38 PM
Cleone

Dr. D, you mentioned Chic Anderson's race call as being part of the perfection - and after considering it for a good five seconds or so, I agree!  I'm sure there are many race callers who could have created an indelible impression calling that particular race - but Chic is the one who did.  I still remember the wonder and awe in his voice as he told us, "Secretariat is all alone!"  And I remember that this is a man who watched horse races for a living, who felt that wonder and awe.  He was as amazed as the rest of us.  

I still also remember that little frisson of "Oh, no, he's going too fast," when Chic told us that the split for the first three quarters of a mile was 1:09 and change.  I kept waiting for him to come back to the other horses, which seemed inevitable - but he just kept going.  

Great memories.  Keep 'em coming!  :)

16 Sep 2010 2:42 PM
needler in Virginia

mrw31, if you want to meet some horses that will bring tears to your eyes AND a lift to your soul, try going around the corner from the KHP to Old Friends on Paynes Depot Road...YOU WILL NEVER REGRET THE VISIT, and you WILL be back for more. There has never been a more special group of horses and people than you will find there. AND you'll find Tinner Way, Secretariat's last son, as a permanent resident there, too .....never let it be said I'd NOT mention a son of Big Red. www.oldfriendsequine.org

NOW, Steve, I have a grand idea (as he cringes from his computer and gets ready to run). I know you say you don't want to write another book. But how about a nice, tidy, ready to go, instant gratification, and BOY! will you please your readers,

already-written-so-you-don't-have-to-do-it-

again compilation of your columns???

C'mon, Steve. C'mon, Steve. C'MON, STEVE!! Your readers await you and I bet they'll chime in and agree with me on this one.......so let him hear it, guys. Drive the man to drink and distraction............

And if you DO, Steve, I won't push to have you bronzed! Sounds fair to me.

Cheers and safe trips.

16 Sep 2010 3:23 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Cleone

  I'm sorry I don't know his name, but I love the guy that calls Woodbine's races. The way the race caller calls the races is a big part of it. Get some emotion in there!!!! Break down and cry and spit it out through your sobs !! Man, what a tough job that is. I couldn't do it. No chance. It would be disaster. I really admire all of them. It would take me a month to get ready for one race, and I'd still blow it. I would have never gotten through Secretariat's Belmont or they would have been bleeping it out like crazy. "No $#@*!$# way !!! He's going to die !!! Someone get out there and slow his #$$ down before he kills himself. What is that &%%$#%# jockey trying to do !!!!"

16 Sep 2010 3:29 PM
kaytee

 Sec's yearling photo is righteous.  So much to be learned from this innocent pic.  If you look 1st @ his legs: straight up+down on his left leg that is square; no bent either way.  If he had been standing square, I'm sure you'd find straight hip-to-hock-to-fetlock.  baby Sec. also had a long upper line (he also appeared muttun-whithered); but short belly line.  He had some "motorcycle ears" like RIVA but his attention was neither to his handler nor the phtographer but rather what was going on {a thinking mind].

 Most of all,  his neck was so mature.  Longer in proportion to the rest of him, it displayed incredible muscle and you could already see a stud crest over the top.  He did have a bit of boney point of shoulder + hip, but the little ribs peeking out showed fitness already.

16 Sep 2010 3:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Richie, that last scene gets me every time. I remember the first time I saw the movie, when she threw the cat out the cab and you see him in the alley in the rain, I said to myself, if they find the cat this will go down as one of my favorite movies ever. If they don't, it will be one of my least favorite ever and I'd never watch it again.

Thank you very much, Lauracrown. I have plenty of remembrances of Forego, and in fact wrote a rather long blog on him last year -- June 21 to be exact. You can find it in the archives.

16 Sep 2010 3:37 PM
kaytee

 There is a pic of 3 yr old sec. w/full stride.  if you put yearling sec.- and that photo of 3 yr. old sec side by side, then you will have no doubt that god intended.

16 Sep 2010 4:28 PM
Ted from LA

Did mz mention something about happy endings?

Great article.  I never tire reading about Secretariat and those who worked with him.  Talk about happy endings.

16 Sep 2010 4:30 PM
Chrystal

Lovely article and absolutely fascinating comments - this is the first time I've spent so much time actually reading all of them! Some of these fans are SO lucky.

But on a gloomy note, it is very depressing that I will never get to see such Great horses. I was born too late, and didn't love racing until '88. I was lucky to see some near-greats on TV in Alysheba, Easy Goer, and Sunday Silence.

I also missed seeing the training track at The Meadow. I would have loved to see it. I would not have even minded seeing the farm after it had become so run down. It's still history, and its nice to see the original structures of historic buildings, as opposed to brand new replicas.

So is Secretariat's old stall still there? I read a comment that says the foaling barn is still there, is this true? It would be nice if they could just fix these up, as opposed to tearing them down.

I am thankful, I suppose, that the land is used by the State Fair now. That's not too bad. Still some horses there, that's better than nothing.

And I guess we should be VERY grateful that the land did not have concrete dumped over it, or a shopping mall and condos thrown up. This is what they want to do to historic Hollywood Park, where Citation and Zenyatta, among others, raced.

And look what they did to Glen Riddle training facility, where the original Big Red, Man O' War, learned to fly!!! The greedy ignorant developers destroyed EVERYTHING, and put up an UGLY golf course.

I am still livid beyond belief over this. Now post-baby boomers like myself (as well as future horse lovers) will NEVER get to see such an important piece of property. It didn't have to be destroyed. There are TONS of wealthy people in this country, and yet not one of these oblivious folks stepped forward to preserve it. It could have been turned into something equine-related, and could have turned a profit.

Three years ago I was reading about it in an old Blood Horse article, and hurridly planned a trip to MD so I could see it and try to somehow stop the development before it was too late. Then I googled it and found out it already was. I literally felt sick.

Can't help but be angry: What is it with people not thinking ahead? Do you people honestly think no one in the future will never care about such things?

Oh, I guess the younger folks aren't supposed to like horses or sports or history - ESPECIALLY not history. No, we're supposed to play video games, watch reality TV, be apathetic & act stupid.

I'm swiftly running out of interesting things to see in this country. Why even take a trip anywhere? To go visit the newest strip mall? Where's it going to be - on Gettysburg? Oh joy, I can't wait.

16 Sep 2010 4:42 PM
mz

Dr. Drunkinbum: Dan Loiselle.

You're welcome.

16 Sep 2010 4:43 PM
Slew

What is amazing about this blog is that it has brought out so much love and admiration...memories thought to be tucked away with cobwebs have come pouring through the words.  This has to be one of the best times I've ever had on these blogs...and the comments have mostly been made while tears well up in folks' eyes.  Thank you Steve, not only for the blog, but for bringing of the best of our meager humanity.  Secretariat...

still a hero.  I remember him then; I'll remember every one's heartfelt words now.

16 Sep 2010 5:03 PM
kaytee

 to ted from l.a.'

    there's always great horses. maybe u mean u haven't seen a trbl crwn.  But there's Zen, & QR & Blame & Blind Luck, & Boys a.t. and Twirl. C.& Sid. Candy and you really need to wait till breeder's cup.  I know there wasn't tri crwn this yr. but you have to recognize the greats.  Br"s cup is going to be good.  Anyway, i'll bet yr young.  at least i hope i see one more.

16 Sep 2010 5:19 PM
kaytee

  My last comment was to Crystal.

16 Sep 2010 5:35 PM
TerriV

Steve, you have given us all such a treasure.  I admit to being so overwhelmed with emotion at just the first few words, the first sight of the immortal Secretariat.  I just can't get enough even though tears stream down my face the entire time I'm reading both your article and all the amazing responses.  What is it about Secretariat?  There have been many beautiful horses, many talented horses, many fast horses... so why does Big Red do affect so many people so deeply.  Whatever he was and is still is just magic.  Your words come closest to capturing whatever it is.  I never got to see him in person and admit to being green with envy reading the wonderful stories of people who saw him and touched him.  But I do remember my first sight of him on TV.  I was 18 and hadn't paid any attention to racing at all but I watched the Derby that year.  The sight of him in the winners circle has never faded from my memory and the huge swell of emotion I felt that day happens every time I hear his name.  I've been a fan of racing ever since and loved many horses.  Secretariat stands alone.

16 Sep 2010 5:45 PM
PJJ

Steve,  This is off topic,

  Zenyatta is listed in Oprah Winfrey's  2010 Powerlist, the most influential women.

16 Sep 2010 6:03 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

The mental soundtrack of you calling Secretariat's Belmont, sent me rolling on the floor! (well, not really! but I did LOL) I bet that many people who saw it live must have had the same thoughts: "This is not gonna end well, he's going TOO fast!" Not as colorful as your "call" though. :)

16 Sep 2010 6:04 PM
Barbara W

Absolutely beautiful column. Thank you more than I can say for sharing with us.

Also, some of the comments and recollections brought me to tears. I can't believe I was so dumb that I did not realize that we "peons" could visit the horse farms.

It was not until I found out that our Quarter horse shares a great grandsire (Nasrullah) with Secretariat (he was his grandsire) that I beat a path straight up to Claiborne. The groom told us a great story about Nasrullah--that he would stand on his hind legs and knock out the light bulb in the ceiling (which was VERY high!)

If you write that compilation, I will definitely buy it!

One last thing, I agree with the person who recommended "The Art of Racing in the Rain"--not about horses, but all animal lovers should read it.

16 Sep 2010 6:29 PM
Linda in Texas

You cannot tell me that Secretariat did not repay all of the sensitive and loving people who were with him every day for their kindnesses by

winning the way he did.

I love the history of the people who cared for him and thank you Steve for telling us so first hand in only the way you know how.

The comments made by everyone are

splendid and show an affection for the horse world that is second to none. Most of the comments made are straight from their hearts and

quite touching.

There truly was something special about Secretariat that i think we all would like to be a part of. And Steve's article showed that it takes more than just the owner to make a great champion.

The most poignant part of the story for me was of his care giver/groomer when he walked into his stall and

said "this was Secretariats"! It should be coated in gold and be in the Horse Museum.

Secretariat knew he was loved and to me that was the most important thing.

Winning just happened to be the icing on the cake.  

Thank you Steve and everyone else who wrote their beautiful heartfelt feelings.I know i am lucky to be in the company of some very nice people for sure.

Here's to you Big Red. You are the Man !!!

16 Sep 2010 6:53 PM
BaleofAKS

Steve, thank you so much for taking a picture of the Sunday News.  For years I thought I had once seen a newspaper with a banner proclaiming "SECRETARIAT!" but I could never find it....so I started to believe it was some type of false memory.  But today, when I opened this blog and saw the paper...my God, it gave me a thousand chills.

I agree with the suggestion to duplicate the complete CBS broadcasts from that magical Triple Crown and sell them for charity.  I would cherish having those broadcasts...

16 Sep 2010 7:39 PM
txhorsefan

Amid all my misty-eyes from reading everyone's touching comments and their own love of horses, of racing, of Big Red, then there's Dr. Drunkinbum's race call and I almost fell off the chair laughing.  I was getting pretty deep into all the emotion and that kind of broke it up - lol! Thank you!  Thank you all for sharing your heartfelt emotions and your various stories.  You are all the best!  Charlotte's Web, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Old Yeller...there must be some kind of bond between us here that goes beyond who is running in the next race, or the highest priced yearling.  Thank you, Steve, for bringing everyone together.

16 Sep 2010 7:44 PM
Kathy Kimber

Well at least they are trying to preserve The Meadow.  Yes I'll see the movie and I'll love it in spite of the Hollywood hoop la because I'll know what is and what isn't.  It'll generate attention to Big Red and hopefully draw interest to our sport and to his life.  

   I never saw him race except in the news footage but he transsends all of it.  Forever great, forever remembered Big Red.

16 Sep 2010 7:48 PM
Mike985

Steve,

I have been waiting to see the upcoming movie about Secretariat for several months now.  Your stories leading up the movie release have provided a nice background. I saw the Barbaro documentary and the Seabiscuit movie and I still can't believe how good they were.  I can't wait to see this new movie. (of course Diane Lane isn't too bad to look at either).

Steve, the timing of these articles was brilliant.  May you keep doing this kind of work. Racing has a deep rich history and I bet you have many more stories tucked away in that brain of yours.

16 Sep 2010 7:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  Thanks !!!  Good to have you back. I hope we get some of those special spunky, compassionate, and passionate posts from you sometime. Don't ever stop being yourself. How's the little fella doing?

16 Sep 2010 8:10 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   Check out gradeoneracing.com. There's some info on Runflatout. When they say he's a full brother to Congrats, they are talking about Flatter, right? It's Steve Davidowitz site. I recommend signing up. Stich does pedigree analysis, and she is very good. Really nice site, highly recommend to all.

16 Sep 2010 8:25 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

txhorsefan

  Glad you had a laugh. I think that is what I was thinking during the race !! There is a bond. Remember how much fun we had with the old TV shows? We must be a bunch of old fogies. Remember when people used to say that it was terrible being old. I think it's great, otherwise how could we have been young during the greatest time to live? Especially the fifties and early 60's. Even the seventies was pretty good. That's because we had Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid, and Affirmed vs. Alydar. I wouldn't trade growing up in those days for anything. I couldn't imagine being in today's world without those memories of the good old days to pull me through. Thanks Secretariat, and Steve Haskin. A perfect match.

16 Sep 2010 8:38 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

I've been here, reading these great articles and all the positive and touching comments. It's been wonderful, hasn't it?

Runflatout had several hyperbaric chamber sessions and is supposed to go to the ranch sometime this coming weekend. They tell me he's doing well but I can't wait to go visit him after they transfer him from the hospital. There's nothing like seeing with my own eyes when it comes to relieving anxiety. Frankly, I've been worried. So much can go wrong with a horse and my "worry-wart mind" has been on over-drive because I couldn't see his progress for myself. I should feel better once I see him alert and obviously well. Thank you for asking, you're very kind. I'll report further next week. :)  

16 Sep 2010 9:59 PM
mz

Zookeeper: gonna post some more photos and stuff of RFO when you have some time?  Vicarious horse ownership is so much fun -- we can worry by proxy AND not have to pay any bills.

16 Sep 2010 10:52 PM
Aluminaut

Zookeeper,

I've wondered where you were and how your horse was doing.  Good to see your comment.  It's true that horses can have a lot of setbacks and it's frustrating when they're  doing so well and all of a sudden it's this and that.  Does he have allergies?

Best of luck to you and Runflatout.  Please give him a scratch on the nose from your fellow bloggers.

16 Sep 2010 11:42 PM
Katherine

Dr D

Loved your race call...still chuckling over that one. When I was watching Secretariat's Belmont I couldn't think...I think I went into suspended animation and forgot to breath even. I was stunned at what I had seen.

16 Sep 2010 11:44 PM
Katherine

Zookeeper, what was RFO's diagnosis? Last I heard he had a sore throat?

16 Sep 2010 11:47 PM
Zookeeper

Dr. D.,

Thanks for the heads up on the website. Yes, Flatter is a full brother to Congrats.

16 Sep 2010 11:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  Don't worry. He's not supposed to be precocious anyway. He's ahead of the game. Slow but sure is the right path for your hero. He should run very well at four and five. Anything before that is gravy. He'll do well at three also, you'll see. They'll take good care of him, that is obvious. They know what they're doing. Thanks for the update. Stop worrying and take care of yourself !!! He is fine.

17 Sep 2010 12:39 AM
The Deacon

Bob Fisher:

          You are right, Man O War was indeed referred to as Big Red. Every story I have ever read about him refers to him as Big Red, so I guess that makes him the first Big Red. As a matter of fact, Dr. Fager was also referred to as Big Red. An article back in the early 1970's by Readers Digest made reference to that. I still have that article to this day.

So I suppose we have three Big Red's, not that it matters much. All three horses were legendary. Secretariat we can say is the last Big Red. Obviously he is probably the best remembered and most endeared. Being a Triple Crown winner is such a rare feat, Secretariat won those races with such grace, power, and stamina.

He is cetainly most deserving a feature film. Horse racing can sure use the shot in the arm........  

by most.

17 Sep 2010 3:28 AM
Marigold

txhorsefan, I was a young mother  then, too, but I fell in love with Secretariat and never fell out of love with him.

As the years have gone by, his luster has not dimmed.  There will never be another one like him -- nor would I want there to be.  He was the one and only Secretariat, a magnificent colt who grew into a magnificent stallion -- a legend and while not a myth by any means -- mythical in his greatness and his great beauty.  They used to call him "Sexy" in those days -- he was and he was spectacular. I will always love and revere him.

17 Sep 2010 4:02 AM
Bellwether

NOT TRYING TO SAVE "THE MEADOW"...IT I$ $AVED!!!...PLEASE...& TY...

17 Sep 2010 4:09 AM
Fran Loszynski

You are an awesome writer Steve. It never ceases that I don't leave reading without a tear in my eye. Secretariat was the perfect racehorse, great pics.  I never knew as much as I do now about the Meadow and that's what a great writer does is to "inform". My biggest tribute I can give to you is I hope you are there to write about when one of Afleet Alex's foals wins the Triple Crown. I hope it reads "by Steve Haskin".

17 Sep 2010 8:03 AM
Barbara W

Zookeeper,

Did you ever say what happened to Runflatout? Maybe it was reported on another blog, and I might have missed it.I'm sorry to be off-topic, but I'd really like to know.

Thanks.

17 Sep 2010 8:31 AM
txhorsefan

Zookeeper, thanks for the update on Runflatout.  I can sure understand how relieved you are going to feel when you can go see him with your own eyes at the farm and not rely on the reports from other people.  You are so generous to be sharing him with us and I appreciate it very much. I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it all must be, but I'm sure the rewards will be great.  I'm going to check out that web-site Dr. D. suggested also.

Thinking about all these great remembrances on here and how everyone has shared so much of their Secretariat feelings, just warms my heart so.  It's a great way to start the day.  Thank you, Steve, for getting it all going.  I go back through the comments again and there are so many that are so touching, I just wish I had the ability to express how nice the camraderie we share is.  Probably didn't spell that right, but hope you'll be able to figure out what I mean.  Thanks, all!

17 Sep 2010 8:34 AM
Zookeeper

Aluminaut, Katherine, Barbara W,

He had a lung infection that wouldn't go away. Hopefully, the hyperbaric oxygen treatments along with antibiotics will have done the trick.

mz,

That's what so wonderful about this particular partnership, the costs until he is 3yrs old is all absorbed by the management. This stay at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center and all the treatments cannot be cheap, but they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get him well. I'm so grateful and impressed with that, I can't begin to tell you. A good partnership is essentials for people like me, with no experience and no contacts in the industry. I'd be lost (and already broke) if it wasn't for their knowledge, their experience and genuine concern for the horses they manage.

Dr Drunkinbum,

I hope what you said comes true. I wasn't looking for a flash in the pan when I took the plunge. Unless I'm very very lucky, this will probably be my only chance at participating in the ownership of a racehorse, so I want it to be a l-o-n-g one, even if it's only midly successful.

txhorsefan,

Thank you for your kind words. :)

Now, back to the subject at hand: the immortal Secretariat and what he means to his devoted fans!    

17 Sep 2010 10:33 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Katherine

  It was stunning. It didn't seem real. It didn't make any sense. Through the test of time, we know why it didn't make sense. The record of 2:24 seems untouchable. When a replay I've seen many times moves me like that, I know it is a very special race. That's why I think Zenyatta's Classic win will stand the test of time and always be a legend. No matter how much I watch the replay I'm amazed, but it gets me in a different way. Secretariat's Belmont stands alone for sheer and utter amazement, stunning power, and the standard that was set for equine perfection.

17 Sep 2010 11:20 AM
Pat

I am in my absolute glory, just reading comments from people who share my love and passion for Secretariat. He has enfolded us all into one Big Red circle and I'm just proud to be part of it. Thanks to you Steve for bringing out all of these wonderful stories. As an aside, if you want to watch a wonderful animal story..try Hachi..guaranteed to make you cry, but well worth watching nonetheless. 21 days to "Secretariat", the movie.

17 Sep 2010 11:35 AM
MintHillFarm

So well written; thanks for putting this on line. I felt like I was there with these great gentlemen as they recounted their memories of amazing Secretariat. His feats will not be repeated for sometime I think!!

17 Sep 2010 2:02 PM
TerriV

Regardless of whatever faults the Secretariat movie might have, I have waited impatiently for October and can't wait to see it.  It will be about Him and it will have beautiful horses - there just aren't enough movies about horses so I'm grateful they made it.

If they manage to convey even half of the majesty and magic of Big Red there will be even more of us in the Big Red Circle (I just love that image, Pat!)

One of my favorite Secretariat moments to watch is his last race at Woodbine.  He flies past those lights in the mist with his breath visible, all alone in front.  I always feel a shiver of awe at that sight; like I'm seeing a magical otherworldly creature rather than just a horse.  Dr. D, I believe you are right about it being that feeling of stunned amazement but I also think there is some kind of magic.  

17 Sep 2010 4:23 PM
Kathy Kimber

Just some more thoughts when I was a little girl growing up in central Kansas in the 1940'our exposure to horseracing were the state and county fairs.  Most kids wanted the rides but I hung out inthe horse barns all day.

 I lived for the friday night movies and newsreels so I could see Citation win his races.  When the great Man O War died it was front page news and it was announced in school we got to write a report on him.

   Yes there was that really bad first movie about Seabiscuit and another movie about "The Great Dan Patch"  I loved every minute of each one.  I can remember my Dad and my Grandpa telling about seeing the pacer Dan Patch race at the fair when they were young men.

   I can vaguely remember seeing newsreel footage of Beautiful Jim Key doing math.  Sometimes I would think back and thought I only dreamed that one but a book was written about him a few years ago so he was real too.

  I guess the point is these animals leave a very big impression on us.  After reading your wonderful article Steve I had to dig out my copy of Bloodhorse's Best 100 Throughbreds of the 20th Century and start rereading about so many of these horses I remember.  

   A triple crown in the future I sure hope I see another one thanks so much Steve for all you do, the pictures are great.  How about a book of them and your memories.

17 Sep 2010 4:25 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve if you will allow me, i want to suggest to folks interested in Zookeeper's baby, Runflatout, simply google his name and you will come upon wonderful YouTube videos of him in his stall, with and without saddle, breezing at Del Mar and 'stretching out great', my term for seriously turning it on and up close and personal and interviews with Carla Gaines about him,very nice!

I watched videos of Secretariat and some photos show his forelegs so extended and also his hind legs,all at the same time, that i cannot fathom how any of his 4 legs land in a position to support him. But that is what i mean stretching out great!!!

Runflatout was looking good at Del Mar just a month before he was scratched. When that happened i was sick as i did not know why.

Sometimes the horses that are not antsy, hyper and thunderous in their personalities, end up being the fastest runners. So i look forward to watching him race when he is 100 percent. And i love his dark color.

Keep the faith Zookeeper, you are an interesting person and i enjoy reading your's and The Bumster's blogging back and forth.As well as everyone elses. I loved being a teenager in the 50's and cannot imagine being one now.

And Steve, you ain't too bad yourself. It is not easy to keep so many people of such diverse peculiarities for lack of a better word, focused and functioning and printable!!!

Thanks so much.

And RIP Academy Award,have been away from my computer and just now seeing he was put down due to the dreaded L word. Is Laminitis hereditary? Or an auto-immune issue?

17 Sep 2010 4:28 PM
Barbara W

Thank you, Zookeeper, for the report on your baby. I'll be praying for him and you. I can only imagine how you must worry when you can't be with him. Looking for a great future for him.

17 Sep 2010 5:53 PM
Zookeeper

Linda in Texas,

Thank you for being so supportive.

"The Horse" will conduct a webinar on laminitis on Sept.21st(I think) I listened to a previous one this week and, although quite technical, I found it very informative.

It appears that just about anything can bring on the dreaded disease. Before listening to it, I had no comprehension of how colitis (for instance) can lead to laminitis. Now, I understand a little better and I recommend it (the webinar) to anyone interested in finding out about the condition that  claimed our great Secretariat and so many of our equine athletes.

Although a lot of it went over my head, I was fascinated because something like an infection of any kind can get the process started. This may not have been the best thing for me to hear, considering RFO's illness, but it made me appreciate the care he is given even more than I did before.

17 Sep 2010 6:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

TerriV

  You're right. Magic, or magical may be the perfect word, and that is the world Secretariat took us to, a magical world, where everything is perfect. Have you ever read about those people that claim that we didn't actually land on the moon, that it was all done in a studio, and was a hoax? I wonder why there isn't a group saying that about Secretariat, since it seems so unreal what he did.

17 Sep 2010 6:18 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Kathy Kimber

   That's a special rendition of a walk down memory lane. It brought back memories of County Fairs, and old barns for me. I've always loved old barns and the smell of hay.

Linda in Texas

    I love your post, and I like that nickname, The Bumster. "Diverse peculiarities" How nice of you !!! If it wasn't for Zookeeper I might not even be blogging. She's the one that made me feel comfortable intially, and I had someone to identify with and communicate with. At first I thought she was a guy, and I thought, "that is one cool dude." Zookeeper will always be special. I wasn't a teenager in the 50's, I was younger but I knew a lot of them and they were having the time of their lives, just as I was as a child. I didn't know any unhappy people in the 50's. It was all fun, and hope, and wonderment at all of the fantastic stuff going on. The music is my favorite now, although I progressed up through the changes in rock, I've progressed back to the 50's and early 60's music now.

17 Sep 2010 6:32 PM
Rondo44

Thanks for taking us on another amazing journey. Not kidding, you should do a book similar to these article's. Horse racing enthusiasts such as myself would not put it down until we had read it from cover to cover.

17 Sep 2010 6:55 PM
Zookeeper

Dr D. aka The Bumster,

I remember. Your first post, on Jason's blog, was about Raise the Bridle, a 3yr old competing in the Sunland Derby... I think we were the only ones who saw that bumper-car race. You commented on it and I thought: "Oh! a new guy! With a name like that, he should be interesting." Well! little did I know...LOL!

17 Sep 2010 7:26 PM
sherpa

Looks like this blog is winding down...I have nothing to contribute to the Big Red story, so I'll just add my heartfelt thanks to all those who shared their experiences.  I've read every comment in these two blogs since the first day, and don't think I've ever seen such an outpouring of unequivocal love as I've witnessed here.  I've also not seen so many NEW commenters in any blog.

Mr. Haskin - you are just so good at what you do. You have drawn out all these wonderful recollections, and your timing is impeccable.  Reading it all has been an experience in itself.

Thank you.

17 Sep 2010 10:07 PM
Bigtex

Great stories from Twilight Tears, Sue, Texas Thorne!

LIke many of you, I have watched Secretariat's races over and over and over again.  And I try, as best I can, since I didn't see him live, to "be there" and understand the greatness.  Where do I find him most amazing?  In what race, which part of the race, and why?  Have any of you tried to  determine which feat is most amazing?

I've tried and tried and tried.  I probably have a top 10 or 50 but one comes to mind I wanted to mention.  Watching the Belmont time and again, I have gone over the race and, particularly, the final quarter with a stopwatch several dozen times.  When you time it, you have to start over because you think you've messed up because you're thinking, "there's just no way!  I have to do it over again!"  lol!!!  Seriously!!!  In the final quarter of the Belmont, if you want to see something really amazing, clock Secretariat from the quarter pole to the wire several times and see what you come up with.  Then, clock Twice a Prince and My Gallant several times and see what you come up with.  See if it doesn't absolutely blow your mind!!!  And remember, the other two horses were grinding it out for 2nd place money!

Man, what a horse Secretariat was!!!

18 Sep 2010 12:45 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper aka Zookeepster

  Good memory !!! I remember that now. Here's something really ironic. Not long after that I made you hunt down my conversation between Zenyatta and John Shirreffs that they had at the barn at Oaklawn the night before the Apple Blossom. I put it in an old Zenyatta blog because that's what I thought I had to, and you couldn't find it for awhile.  Recently I wrote something to you in a Rachel blog here but I forgot to go back and check that one, and I thought you never answered me. I finally went and checked that one a few days ago, and there you were with two responses. So here we are again with Rachel and Zenyatta in the irony of lost blog posts in obscure spots. I remember when you were writing about how we have to treat horses better after they leave their racing careers, and I was thinking that it was great coming from a guy to be so sensitive to issues, and so I felt that I could express myself honestly also without fear of being called a woosy. I was clueless for a long time, even when someone called you a she. I thought he was being sarcastic and rude !!! I think it wasn't until you said something like "Us girls..." You joined my short list of mentors through all of this, and then you became an owner !!! That was some announcement. I remember you had been gone for at least a few days, has us worried, then comes this big announcement, and then you started sharing the journey with us which has really meant a lot to many people here, and we thank you for giving insight that we could otherwise never of had. I hope they really take their time with him. With a little luck and patience he has a very good career ahead of him.

18 Sep 2010 1:06 AM
Bigtex

You bloggers that have your own pics of Secretariat are killing me!!!!

Steve, can we not find a place where these folks can send in their pics and post them in one place for us all to see and then cry our eyes out and be jealous with envy???

18 Sep 2010 1:14 AM
Steve Haskin

By request, I will be writing a blog on Seattle Slew, who I've never written about on here. It will be a combination of several different features I've done on him for various publications. But first, I will complete the Secretariat trilogy by posting a review of the movie, which should be up sometime on Sunday.

18 Sep 2010 1:19 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Sherpa.

Good post, Bigtex. Regarding your second post, perhaps those who with photos who haven't already can sign up on Facebook and post them on Secretariat's page

18 Sep 2010 1:23 AM
sodapopkid

Steve, This is off-topic again,  but I have to ask you this?  What do you think of Zenyatta making Oprah's Powerlist out of 20 names.

Our Zenyatta made the list?

Zenyatta is up there with Julia Roberts, Vera Wang, Diane Sawyer,  I mean, Steve, Does it get much better than this?   Oprah aint small potatoes,  and Arianna Huffington isnt either,  Huffington is big in the potitical world....and her Huffington Post published a article on Zenyatta too..........

18 Sep 2010 6:06 AM
Slew

Gee! I wonder who requested a blog about Slew?  Thanks Steve!

18 Sep 2010 9:18 AM
Kathy Kimber

Steve,  I hope we can have some comments in a couple of weeks on the movie when it comes out from Secretariat's fans who see it.  If not entirely accurate it will surely reprint a lot of memories in people's minds.  So I think we should support it as it is going to generate a lot of interest in horse racing.  I'm heading to the bookstore and seeing about a copy of "Secretariat's Meadow"  thanks again Steve

18 Sep 2010 9:19 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Slew

  Ha !!! I thought it was you Slew. If Zenyatta got together with a horse named Repeat, they could call their offspring YattaYattaYatta. There is a filly named Repeat out of Bernardini, but no horses or colts.

18 Sep 2010 11:42 AM
marfa

I have a question for Mr. Haskin,

does anyone know how to get in

touch with him?

18 Sep 2010 12:56 PM
Steve Haskin

Get in touch with who?

18 Sep 2010 1:17 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

I think marfa means YOU...

Dr Drunkinbum,

Funny you thought I was a HE. With a blog-name like yours, there was never a doubt in my mind, that not only were you a HE but, that you had a great sense of humor and a fanciful mind. I wasn't too far off, was I?  :)

18 Sep 2010 1:42 PM
Lauracrown

Steve,

Thanks for the referral to the Forego blog from 2009. I just got back from wandering through the Archives to read about your plans to do a Seattle Slew blog. Can't wait! I just wanted to add that your photos of Secretariat also reminded me that he was possibly the most beautiful chestnut ever! I hope the horses that appear in the movie will be convincing as Secretariat so that maybe more children will become horse racing fans.

18 Sep 2010 2:51 PM
ruffianruns

Steve -

I think the Seattle Slew blog is a great idea AND I have a request and/or question.  Have you ever written about Ruffian?  I know that in the book "Ruffian: Burning from the Start," a great and moving book, Jane Schwartz mentions you in the Acknowledgments.  And an American Heritage article I have mentions your reaction upon seeing Ruffian's breakdown.  Anyhow, if you could point me to anything, I would appreciate it.  I am completely over the moon for that girl - I mean how many 2-year-olds, colts or fillies, win their debut by 15 lengths while matching the TRACK record.  She was being restrained most of the race too.

There's a great article from the Sports Illustrated archives about her debut here: sportsillustrated.cnn.com/.../index.htm

18 Sep 2010 3:42 PM
ruffianruns

Dr D and Zookeeper - It sure is fun to read about your online friendship!  The whole "is that poster a girl or a boy" thing is funny.  I find myself trying to figure out stuff like that sometimes.  Dr D, you don't have to worry about being called a woosy!  We've got your back!

18 Sep 2010 3:48 PM
Linda in Texas

Hip #1447 which sold for $560,000 and is pictured on the HOME page of

Bloodhorse today is just about a gorgeous gray in my opinion. Of course his sire being Unbridled's Song, does not surprise me. But goodness, he is a looker !

The article also discussed the positive and unsuspected sale returns at Keeneland and that is truly great news.

And Steve, Seattle Slew is my all time favorite. Talk about a sweet heart. Have his photo in the corner of my computer screen at all times. Loved him, and appreciated and respected his owners. I, along with many i am sure, will grab a box of tissues before we begin to read that article. Will be looking forward to it and that is a given.

Thanks Steve.

18 Sep 2010 4:18 PM
Cleone

BigTex, I can't possibly pin down one single moment - but for me, the thing that stands out is his move around the first turn in the Preakness.  Last to first on the first turn, and he made it look so easy.  That moment always makes my jaw drop.

And there are many, many other moments, too.

18 Sep 2010 4:57 PM
dinkydiva

Steve, I can't wait for the next post on Big Red!!  I can't wait for the movie to come out!  I'm also looking forward to your article on Seattle Slew!!  Will chime in for sure.

Linda in Texas, I always heard that Slew was a bit on the umm awnry side?!  The ranch that I worked at had one of his sons ship in and he was muzzled and was not a gentleman: Louisiana Slew.  I'm just wondering.

18 Sep 2010 5:50 PM
Zookeeper

ruffianruns,

Thank you so much for that beautiful article from Sports Illustrated... a great piece of writing about an out-of-this-world filly. Something wonderful hit the track for the first time that day, a sneak preview of perfection! WOW!

18 Sep 2010 6:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  Thanks. I can't make it to HP either. SA, I hope.

ruffianruns

  Thanks for having my back !!!

18 Sep 2010 6:53 PM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns, actually I haven't written anything yet on Ruffian, but I definitely should. Maybe too many sad memories.

I proofread Jane's book and corrected whatever factual inaccuracies I found. Jane was a good friend and she did a fantastic job with the book.

I wasn't aware American Heritage mentioned me.

18 Sep 2010 8:58 PM
sodapopkid

As sad as the story of Ruffian is,  If Steve writes about it, it will make it so much more sadder.  

Steve, you have that way of writing , and you put so much of yourself into your thoughts and your words , your writings are so deep, they are absolutely the best , so heartfelt, thats why I can say , If you write a story on Ruffian, I aint going to read it.

Its not to cool when someone's writings can make a man teary eyed.

You're to good of  a journalist Steve H.

18 Sep 2010 9:33 PM
txhorsefan

Hope I don't get banned for constantly coming back with more comments, but I just have to say thanks to ruffianruns for that link to the SI article.  I know I've got the book "Burning From The Start", but it's been a while since I've read it and that article just refreshed so much in my mind about why Ruffian holds the place in our shared love and history as she does.  Wow.

Steve, I cannot wait for your article on Seattle Slew and it's high time you wrote about Ruffian as well.  We're waiting...patiently or not so much.  And I'll surely be following Linda in Texas's advice on having the kleenex ready for Slew.  Thank you.  Now its time to go back to you-tube and see if that first race of Ruffian's exists there.  Spent quite a bit of time there this morning re-watching Secretariat's races.  We are so blessed with these horses.

18 Sep 2010 9:49 PM
ruffianruns

Zookeeper - I'm glad you liked the article.  I don't know if you noticed that Jane Schwartz wrote that article and she also wrote the book "Ruffian: Burning from the Start."  It's a great book.

18 Sep 2010 10:57 PM
ruffianruns

Steve -

Thank you for your response.  It IS a heartbreaking story.  The American Heritage article, by Gene Smith, is from 1993.  It's a good rundown of Ruffian's career, and it has a lot of quotes from BH, the DRF, and other sources.  I thought he had interviewed you or something.  You can find it (with a lot of typos) here:  www.americanheritage.com/.../1993_5_46.shtml

18 Sep 2010 11:00 PM
Woodswoman

This is such a wonderful blog series, bringing to life a once in a lifetime horse and how he affected so many of us beyond those who knew him directly.

As an urban asthmatic kid in Detroit, allergic to all animals, I was seriously horse crazy. But given my condition and location, my actual experiences with horses were limited to visits to the Michigan State Fairgrounds where they held horse shows in addition to the annual fair. Horse racing on television was a way to connect.

I will never forget Secretariat's Triple Crown, and that amazing Belmont Stakes. I was 15. Other girls my age had their pin-up posters of the latest teen heartthrob--I had a poster of Secretariat.

My interest in horse racing waned for decades, until I discovered this site and, in particular, your evocative writing. Now I'm a fan once again, and check the Bloodhorse site every day for anything that you write.

Thanks to you, I'm reinspired. I'm flying to Los Angeles to watch Zenyatta in the Lady's Secret and have tickets to the Breeders Cup.

You are a gem.

18 Sep 2010 11:31 PM
Deborah

Looking forward to the movie.  I hope it will be as good as Seabiscuit.  Secretariat was a beautiful foal!

19 Sep 2010 12:10 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

It's been 35 years since that tragic day. Maybe it's time to heal. I suspect that a Steve Haskin article could help us do that, and maybe help himself heal also. I couldn't enjoy racing again until the Affirmed and Alydar Triple Crown battles after Ruffian died so I pretty much missed out on Seattle Slew's Triple Crown, so I'm looking forward to that article also. I do believe that I saw Seattle Slew defeat Affirmed although it's a vague memory.

ruffianruns

   Thanks for that special article !!! I don't know how you do it, but keep up the good work!!!

19 Sep 2010 12:50 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

  A lot of good stuff in the Ruffian article you posted. "1:03 flat. She had tied the track record! A 2-year-old, a filly, in her first race, under restraint, had tied the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs" "Fifteen lengths in front!"  I found another article at that SI vault site. It was about Secretariat's Belmont. I don't know how to post links, or photos or anything but it was dated June 18, 1973 and called "History In The Making" Angel Cordero was on My Gallant, "said glumly, 'I feel sorry for my colt that he has to run against Secretariat." He did the mile in 1:34.20 in his Belmont and the mile and a quarter in 1:59. After half a mile, done in :46.20, Penny Tweedy reacted nervously, "Oh, oh! I'm scared."  Here's a good quote, "the closest competitor-if he can so be called-was 31 lengths to the rear."  The jockey, Turcotte said he and Secretariat both wanted a record to quiet the naysayers who said he didn't have the pedigree for the classic distances.

19 Sep 2010 2:39 AM
Steve Haskin

Woodswoman, thank you very much for sharing that and for the kind words. I'm so happy this blog has brought out so many emotions and stories. A feel-good blog sets the perfect stage for a feel-good movie.

19 Sep 2010 3:06 AM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D., I am healed. I guess I just haven't gotten around to writing about her yet. I'm trying to think of an angle that hasnt been done -- perhaps my visit to Frank Whiteley a few years ago in Camden and visiting Ruffian's old barn and stall, much like visiting Secretariat's old haunts at Meadow Stud. Also, walking with Ruffian and Frank from the barn to the paddock before the match race.

 Ruffianruns, I do vaguely remember being interviewed.

Txhorsefan, I was at Belmont the day Ruffian broke her maiden. I remember it like it was yesterday.

 Thank you, sodapopkid, racing is all about emotions, right?

19 Sep 2010 3:10 AM
Slew

I respected and admired Secretariat, but I fell in love with Slew from the first moment I saw him.  I told Steve, if I cried so often reading the comments about Secretariat, I wasn't too sure how I would hold up reading an article about Slew.  Kleenex???  I think paper towels will be needed, and how will I keep my keyboard dry?

Dinky Diva-ornery isn't a sufficient word for Slew's antics.  How many times have you seen a horse rear up on his hind legs in a post parade, and puff up twice as big as he was, then bite his groom.  If you saw Lava Man's comeback race, you saw a small part of the Slew's fractious nature.  And just because a mare was booked to him, didn't mean he'd like her or want to pair up with her.  Intelligent, independent, ornery, and even clumsy.  Since then, I've always been drawn to horses who act up going to the gate. (I like their independence.)

Dr D: you got me...and you know I fell for you with your first twisted post.  Can't have such a great sense of humor without being a terrific person.

Zook, Paula, Sherpa, Dinky D, ruffianruns, Gunbow, Sodapop,Tx, Linda, et al. enjoy all of your well thought out posts.

And Steve...again..thank you.

19 Sep 2010 7:46 AM
Fran Loszynski

Zookeeper, I will pray for your horse. I'll put an angel with a carrot in his stall. And Secretariat I hear is urging him to fight it! Boy you can't beat that!

19 Sep 2010 8:03 AM
ruffianruns

OMG Steve!

Just your last comment gives me CHILLS!  "WALKING WITH RUFFIAN AND FRANK FROM THE BARN TO THE PADDOCK BEFORE THE MATCH RACE!"  "I WAS AT BELMONT THE DAY RUFFIAN BROKE HER MAIDEN.  I REMEMBER IT LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY."

Sorry to be so loud, but I AM yelling right now and waking up my neighbors!  Now I have to put on a sweater cause the early morning open windows and your comments have me shivering.

19 Sep 2010 8:37 AM
ruffianruns

I feel guilty for steering this into a Ruffian thing... I mean no disrespect to Secretariat, the upcoming movie review, and the upcoming Seattle Slew article.

sodapopkid - It's GOOD to cry.  It's a therapeutic release.  In Great Britain, calls to suicide hotlines and crisis centers went WAY DOWN in the wake of Princess Diana's death.  Experts speculate that it was because it was more socially acceptable to grieve openly.  People gathered to remember and grieve and heal.  Six months later the crisis calls returned to their "normal" state.  I think Steve's blog serves a similar function.  We will never know the number of people he has saved.

txhorsefan - So glad you liked the article.  I hope you found Ruffian's first race on YouTube.  There is one video I found that has the original race call.  I agree, we are blessed with these horses.

19 Sep 2010 10:09 AM
Zookeeper

Self preservation is a powerful instinct. Since I became captivated with horseracing and learned of Ruffian's fate, I have avoided finding out any detail of her life and brilliant career cut short by her tragic death. I didn't want to know. I felt safe, cloaked in the bliss of ignorance. I wouldn't read articles, watch YouTube's videos of her races or the documentary people were talking about and I definitely would not read the book "Burning from the Start". The title itself sent me running in the opposite direction.

ruffianruns- You have shattered the protective cocoon I've been hiding in for over 10 years now. First came the link to the Sports Illustrated account of her first race. I braced myself and read it. It was so beautifully written that I was left yearning for more. Then came the second link, this time to a much longer article, an overview of her whole career. I felt pretty confident that I would be able to handle it... Stupid me!

I had to stop, I'll finish reading later, when I've regained control of my emotions. I guess it's time for me to stop hiding and to find out why her name is legend. I've ordered the long-avoided book from Amazon and I'm stocking up on tissues. The time has come...

19 Sep 2010 11:18 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

   That's it. What a great story you have to tell about Ruffian. I really can't wait. I'm a big Frank Whiteley fan, and a big Ruffian fan. That was heartbreaking. I wanted her to win so badly. I never even considered that something bad could happen. What a shock. Recently I've finally been reading about her. I didn't even realize just how great she was.  I can't wait to hear about your visit with him a few years ago. Walking to the paddock with them before the match race. I'm speechless. How about a two or three or four parter. You have so much to say. What better way to honor Ruffian, and Frank Whiteley than a Steve Haskin article or two or more.

Slew  

   Twisted ??!! Why I oughta. Just kidding. I'm pretty sure that's a compliment. Thanks. You are the other one that was a big influence on me sticking around here, but I wish you would have let me take my sabbatical that time I mentioned needing one. I will have to do that from time to time. It's the only way I can win.

ruffianruns

  Shiver me timbers !!! You're a good influence here. Great to have you around. Keep your enthusiasm.

19 Sep 2010 11:20 AM
Steve Haskin

Isn't it amazing, in a seven-year period, we had Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Alydar, and Spectacular Bid.  And we went nine years in a row having at least one of those horses competing. That truly was racing's Golden Era.

19 Sep 2010 11:41 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   That's the way I felt. I didn't want to read about Ruffian or see her, or hear about her, and that is why I didn't really heal. Shoving it out of the way isn't good. I'm ready now even though it's painful at times, it's also joyous at times. She was just tremendous. Some say the fastest horse that ever lived. Those close to her had overwhelming love for her, and had to be devastated. We have to be able to enjoy the greatness, beauty, and wonderment and celebrare her life despite the tragedy. Your post was beautiful and moving. At least I can read about her life and enjoy it now. I want to read everything I can on her life and races and what people thought of her. Steve is right. That truly was the Golden Era of racing and Ruffian was a big part of it. An astonishing era really. We were spoiled by Triple Crowns, and thought they would come along on a regular basis. The last 30-40 years has proven how great that era was, how difficult Triple Crowns are to achieve. We came to believe that it was the right of a great horse to have his Triple Crown, and felt robbed whenever a great horse didn't get his, rather than accepting just how difficult it is to get one. These were truly marvelous horses that set the standards for greatness.

19 Sep 2010 12:11 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

  Did I get a glimpse of you in the video, near Big Brown, when they were unsaddling him after his Belmont loss? In that brief glimpse you looked a little stunned. Were you? I do remember that all of us were expecting a Triple Crown. When he was closing out his Preakness win, the race caller said, "no one has even come close to Big Brown." That's what almost everyone was thinking- no one has come close to him and no one will. I didn't even get to watch the race live because I was working but when someone told me he lost and that he came in last I was stunned, "What !!! You're joking right?" My jaw dropped. At first in watching the replay I thought that if Desormeux wouldn't have battled him, and let him take the lead like Da Tara did then he might have won, but after watching more replays I thought that there was no way. It wasn't his day no matter what. He had no acceleration in the stretch at all. We've had numerous close calls for the Triple Crown since the 70's, and a few that we thought for sure would get it. I wonder what it is. Do you think the Racing Gods have something to do with it for some reason? Is it to teach us a lesson not to expect them?

19 Sep 2010 12:44 PM
Nancy

Ruffianruns - Thank you for the American Heritage web article about Ruffian.  I'll add it my collection. I reached a point a while ago where I cannot read about or see the injury occur, how they tried to save her and her resistance - it is just too painful to bear.  I have often thought over the years, had she survived, she and Secretariat perhaps would have foaled a great baby(s).  But it was not meant to be.  She truly is immortal, so perfect, as Secretariat was also.  I've never been able to chose who is my favorite between them.  She was a blessing from the Racing Gods.  I believe Zenyatta is also.  Every once in a while they throw us puny humans flesh and blood that is GRAND to behold.  

They were at least fortunate to have owners, trainers, jockeys, exercise riders, grooms, hot walkers, etc. who loved and appreciate them.

It is so wonderful that Steve Haskin's has given us this forum to communicate and interact with one another in our remembrances, love and appreciation of them.

On another note - I forgot to mention in my earlier response, that there is a wonderful DVD included on the inside cover of Drager's 'The Most Glorious Crown'.  

Thanks everyone!

19 Sep 2010 1:13 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Correction: It wasn't the stretch yet when his jockey asked Big Brown to move and he had nothing. I believe they had already put the flour and sugar back in the cupboard by the stretch.

19 Sep 2010 1:18 PM
ruffianruns

Oh Zookeeper -

I should have warned you.  Folks, that American Heritage article is really, really descriptive about her injury.  Of course, you need some of that info to fully understand her drive, her idiocy (!), and the damage she did to herself, but it is awful to read.  Of course, that's the part where our great Steve Haskin is mentioned too.  It's just beyond heartbreaking.  Now, I'm crying.

That's why my blog name is ruffianRUNS, because in my world she's still running:  she outran Foolish Pleasure that day and she went on to shatter so many more records you folks don't even know about!  Fantasy and denial, it's wonderful.

Thanks so much for having the courage and curiosity to delve into such a painful part of history.

19 Sep 2010 1:22 PM
Fran Loszynski

We'll have another one Steve, we'll have another one. Another Era will happen .Look at all the great fans that love racehorses and racehorses are smart they know when they are loved, they win for that love. When we least expect it we will hear:  "And We Have a Triple Crown Winner!"  I hope we all get to see it. Let's all sit in the same row!

19 Sep 2010 1:25 PM
pineyhillhorses

What a wonderful article! I have read it several times and find that I have come back every day to read the comments and enjoy the stories and information shared by all. I do believe that this was truly the golden era of racing and produced the greatest champions we will ever see. If anyone can think of another horse that could stir so much emotion and cause this many responses 37 years after his last race- I wish you would let me know who it would be. This is a Big Red Circle of fans and a tibute to the great one! Steve- I hope you take the hints and write a book or two or a dozen- I never tire of your writing and can't wait for the next!

19 Sep 2010 1:36 PM
Richard

Steve, first may I say how much I envy you for having had the opportunity to witness greatness in person, to actually see, hear and touch the greatest racehorse this sport has ever and will ever see. Your article saddens me because I think it clearly illustrates how low this sport has sunk since Secretariat's days and I doubt we will ever experience glory days like those again no matter how many Zenyatta's or Rachel Alexandras we produce. It is such a shame that so beautiful and moving a sport has been relogated to a footnote on the sports page and so few will ever know how wonderful this sport can be.

19 Sep 2010 1:52 PM
sherpa

Zoo, don't do what I did.  

Like you, I had avoided Ruffian and her story for years.  But now, since Mr. Haskin has decided to write about her, I resigned myself to facing the music; so I logged in this morning to read the 2 articles ruffianruns linked.  By the end of Gene Smith's article, I was weeping like a willow.  The ending lines did me in.  I shut my computer down.

30 minutes later, I had to watch her run.  Fired the computer back up, went straight to YouTube and ended up watching the 9-part YT videos of ESPN's "Ruffian."  It followed the Smith story almost to the letter.  Devastating.

The day is almost gone. I've accomplished nothing worth mentioning.  My heart is broken.

But at last, I understand.

19 Sep 2010 4:37 PM
ruffianruns

Speaking of the Golden Era, this from Bill Nack's article in the SI vault "Any Distance, Any Weight" about the great Forego and the twilight of his career:

"In the spring of 1969, [Martha Gerry] sent Lady Golconda, a daughter of the 1954 Preakness winner, Hasty Road, to Forli's court. It was another one of those remarkable years at Claiborne Farm. That spring, in the same breeding shed, Bold Ruler was sent to the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal, while Pretense had an assignation with Sequoia, another daughter of Princequillo. In the spring of 70, Somethingroyal foaled Secretariat, Sequoia dropped Sham, and Lady Golconda gave birth to Forego. Whatever the farm's conception rate that spring, in essence it was three for three."

19 Sep 2010 5:00 PM
Slew

The 70's were pure gold in horse racing.  I miss them so much with horses that took our breath away.  But we're also so very fortunate these days.  All we need is for everyone to stop bickering, and start enjoying some very special horses in our midst today.  I think folks don't realize how quickly today will soon become just a warm and fuzzy memory.

Dr D: No sabbatical for you-we would miss you way too much.  And didn't I just get caught up between the Titans sleeping on the job, and a PBS Doo-Wop special.  Wow..I don't remember the last time I have seen so much satin, sequins, and patent leather, but it may have been at a Saints game.

Vince Young :(

Cowboys :(

Secretariat ;)

19 Sep 2010 5:37 PM
Somethingroyal

Well said Steve. I believe maturity and time has helped me to really appreciate the racing that we were treated to in the 70's. All of the horses that you mentioned in your 19 Sep 2010 11:41 AM post left us with such wonderful memories. I feel truly blessed as a longtime horse racing fan to have seen them race.

19 Sep 2010 6:36 PM
txhorsefan

ruffianruns - yes, I did find the fragmented race on you-tube and some of her other races as well. It would be so wonderful if they could be better restored.  I wasn't all that impressed with the modern day footage that was put into the video that was on tv.  The best part of that was at the end when they did show some footage of her real races.  The article at american heritage was good, too, ignoring the typos - ha, but it was a brief overview and the story content was what was important.  That's the deal with these blogs - y'all bring up such interesting comments that we have to run to another site to follow a link to learn more and it's an ongoing process.  Everyone wonders why I'm spending so much time at the computer - lol!  Being retired is a wonderful thing.  :)

Zookeeper, it's a tough book because we know how the story ends, but I think you will have the heart to carry on through it because it is such a blessing that we were graced with her presence, even for such a short time.  She gave a glimpse of something so rare.  Stock up on the tissues!  What ruffianruns said about tears being therapeutic is quite true and besides that, there will probably be a wonderful Steve Haskin blog going at the time where you can come for support.  We're all here for you.  We're already prepared to share in Slew's tears when Steve does the article on Seattle Slew. We can rely on Dr. Bumster to add in some humor somewhere, plus you know you'll have Sherpa, and Fran and sodapop and many others.  Right now I'm just hanging out waiting for the finale of the Secretariat trilogy Steve promised us would be showing up on Sunday.  Refresh again!

19 Sep 2010 7:05 PM
boyshowdy

"Love that race horse?  Time o' day

Harper loved him like a child."

19 Sep 2010 7:16 PM
Mike Relva

HELLO STEVE

Another interesting read from you. Just returned late today from visiting Invasor(he looks great). Everyone was very nice at Shadwell. Also,went by Old Friends and visited Tinners Way among others'. Visited Cigar at the Horse Park and earlier to see Monarchos for the first time.

19 Sep 2010 7:18 PM
Cleone

Well, having read the American Heritage article (thanks, ruffianruns, for posting the link), I am now teary and choked up.  I remember that day so vividly, and that horrible lurching stride she had as Vasquez tried to pull her up.

Steve, you are right, we were so blessed with so many great horses in the 1970s!  I admit to being grudging with my recognition back then - Secretariat was my boy, and it felt like all those other greats were somehow making what he had done look ordinary - but I can look back now and be amazed by Slew and Bid.  (Somehow I was free to love Ruffian and Forego, I suppose because they weren't in direct comparison to Big Red.)

I am still a little grumpy with Affirmed for beating my beloved Alydar so often, but maybe someday I'll get over that, too. :)

19 Sep 2010 7:23 PM
Katherine

Steve, looking forward to the new blogs but tomorrow morning I am going to quietly call a good stockbroker and buy Kleenex stock. Thank you for the heads up. The rest of you softies have been warned. :)

1

19 Sep 2010 8:30 PM
ruffianruns

You all are breaking my heart open.

Thank you so much for sharing your very moving stories about your journey with Ruffian.  I feel like John Shirreffs after Zenyatta won the Classic when he said he loved everybody.

19 Sep 2010 8:58 PM
Zookeeper

This is turning out to be one of the best blogs ever. So many people sharing some very deep emotions. It has become a circle of friends. A safe place to express both joy and sadness without fear of being ridiculed. Mr. Haskin, you set the tone... we're just following along the best we can.

Thank you all who have shared avoidance similar to mine. I don't feel so cowardly now. I think I can let the story of Ruffian run through my heart now. It won't be easy, but I'll know that I'm not the only one reduced to mush at the mere mention of her name.

19 Sep 2010 9:18 PM
txhorsefan

Fran, I love your optimistic approach!  I believe.  Or at least I'll keep hoping in my heart of hearts that we will see another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime.  On another blog there's a link to the listing of two year olds gearing up for the races next year.  It could happen.

It is so entertaining and enlightening to read everyone's comments and reactions/responses to comments yet a part of me is still sort of jealous that I wasn't aware of those wonderful horses of the 70s at that time.  Maybe that is why even though I have learned much about them and love them in my own way, I have such a deep appreciation and yes, love, for those horses who are running their hearts out for us today.  Zenyatta.  Rachel Alexandra.  Gio Ponti.  How about Court Vision winning in Canada?  Much to smile about today even though by the memories you all cherish, they may not stack up to what was then.  Gee, when I'm not making any sense I should just quit typying.  Hope you can follow what I'm struggling to express.

19 Sep 2010 9:21 PM
Aluminaut

I believe I may have shared this a couple years ago on a Bloodhorse blog.  Anyway, here goes again....

It was on Sunday in early October, just before John Henry passed from this world.  I usually work through week-ends, except that Sunday I had a last minute meeting and was free for the rest of the day...so I went to Santa Anita on a whim.  

After finding a seat a few rows back from the clubhouse rail on the apron, I noticed an older man sitting next to me.  He had on a magnificent Opal ring and I had to ask where he got it because it was so large and unusual. (I have a history with mining gems as a hobby.)  He introduced himself and told me that the Opal was Australian, but that he had purchased the ring in New Zealand and had haggled a bit (I think).  His friend had returned and sat down and was listening.  The man's name was Bud Snow and he was an actor and we ending up talking about our favorite horses after a while.  I told him my fave was John Henry and that I watched him race in the '80's and went to visit him at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2006 when I attended the Breeder's Cup.  He took out his wallet and showed me a picture of a very Dark Bay/Brown racehorse standing at attention on the track.  He said,

"Do you know who that is?"  I said "Ruffian...." quietly after staring a the picture for a bit. I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was a photo I had never seen.  Bud beamed with pride that this person sitting next to him had recognized her; he told me that she was his favorite horse and he had taken the picture himself and it was all he had kept of his many mementos of the mare.

We took a break to watch Colonel John win his maiden race and I told him my brother was a big fan of Tiznow and his offspring.  

Bud then told me about the magic of Saratoga; how would attend when he was in NY doing a Show on Broadway....How he was naked in the play "Hair" if I could believe that and how Ruffian was the girl of his dreams and he loved her so much.  

A few years back Bud said he knew he was getting on in years and wanted to be sure that his Ruffian clippings and treasures would have a good home.  On a trip to Kentucky, he looked up Shug M's ex-wife who was working at a veternary clinic.  She had worked for Frank W. and with Ruffian in the mare's glory days.  He went into the clinic and he said there was a woman bent over behind the desk and he asked if (I can't remember her name) worked there still, and she said,"Yes, it's me." Or something similar and he was so happy to know that his mementos of the great mare Ruffian would be appreciated.  One chapter closes.......

The races went by in a blur the rest of that Sunday.  We talked and talked.  I told him John was very ill, but had shown improvement a couple weeks ago.  We said goodbye.

I think it was the next day that John Henry died, and due to bizarre circumstances I wasn't aware of his passing until a week later when I stopped by the CTBA and was admiring an old time 3 color photo of John where you could lift up the different colors that made the photo come to life for magazine printing.  It was a relic like John.  It was then that I was told there had been a memorial for John that Saturday and I was so shocked.  John was alive in my mind for that whole week after he was gone.

Sunday after the races a week earlier, a friend and I went to El Coyote in L.A. on Beverly for dinner and Margaritas.  I told the story about meeting Mr. Snow earlier that day and his love for Ruffian.  I had a couple drinks, went to bed very late....and then I had this dream......I dreamt that night that John was on the racetrack with Eduardo Inda aboard. John walked up to me on the track and stopped and looked at me; then through me.  And he was showing me that he was just taking a walk back up the track to the backside at Santa Anita and everything was fine......That morning I told a couple friends at breakfast about my dream with John Henry and I hadn't dreamt about him before...It must be from  meeting Bud Snow and talking about our favorite horses the day before at Santa Anita.  Fade to black. And Ruffian is still running.  

19 Sep 2010 10:38 PM
Aluminaut

The great Secretariat ran his Belmont in 2:24.  John Henry tied a world record for a mile and a half on the grass in 2:23.  Of course it was on the grass and down the hill and has since been broken...But wow!!! If a horse could run fast enough to ride the vapor trail from Big Red..............Still, nobody's gotten close to that 2:24 on Big Sandy.

19 Sep 2010 10:43 PM
Cleone

I agree with Zookeeper - one of the best blogs ever.  I am loving hearing everyone's stories and memories!  

I bought airline tickets yesterday - going to L.A. in two weeks to see Big Z in person and make some of my own memories!  (Although I've seen Rachel race live - I was at the Preakness last year, and that's a phenomenal memory, too.)

20 Sep 2010 12:17 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Aluminaut

  What a great story of a day at the track. I don't know if you're a Seinfield fan but I think you probably are. I thought of how George would have reacted in the show when shown the picture of Ruffian, "Yeah, Ruffian." In that don't insult my intelligence tone after he was forewarned that the guy would show him a picture of Ruffian. Has nothing to do with your story, but it just struck me as funny thinking of how others might respond. That's great you knew who it was. I think that made his day and he gained a respect for you so that he wanted to spend the day talking to you. Thanks, it took me back to memories of meeting strangers at events, including the track. One was a guy who put a big effort into trying to convince us that EVERY race was fixed. We ended up doing our best to avoid him. No one ever pulled out a personal photo of a great horse. I saw John Henry at GG Fields. The way he won at his age was one of the great feats in history.

20 Sep 2010 12:40 AM
Aluminaut

Dr. Drunkinbum,

I was at Golden Gate Fields for John Henry beating Silveyville.  Flew up just for that and also watched Swale win the Derby the day prior on TV at the hotel.  Earlier on the card I hit a 25 to 1 shot named Captain Fuego.  He was a grey.  Took pictures of John that day, they're around somewhere.

As for Seinfeld, I still watch once in a while late at night.  The George things pretty funny.  I have a lot more hair than he does though, and I'm a girl.

20 Sep 2010 1:14 AM
Equine Wisdom

I loved this article, I almost got to see Secretariat back in 1986, but missed out due to circumstances beyond my control.  Really wished I had gotten to see him :(.  Thanks so much for letting me live vicariously!

20 Sep 2010 1:52 AM
Outlaw Enterprises

To answer your question a few days late, remember I said that we agreed "most of the time".  That being said, I cannot really pinpoint a differentiation of opinions without going through the archives.  So, I guess I should say that we agree almost always =)  But, I always try to read all your postings with an open mind and defer to longtime association with the sport...

Just wanted to add another thanks.  I cannot believe that you approve every one of these responses.  And I thought I was a busy person!  It means a lot to me and other fans I have talked with to know that you care enough to read the comments, agree or disagree where appropriate and also defend your opinions.

With all the political fighting we have now, at least we can return to the Sport of the Kings to participate in a civil (mostly, except the whole RA/Z thing) discourse.

Chris

20 Sep 2010 2:39 AM
txhorsefan

Aluminaut, that did it.  Beautiful, beautiful remembrance of another great.  Thank you, but now I've got to quit coming back here & reading - it's tearing me up.  Cleone, I definitely agree with you and ZK on best blog, and I'm so excited for your trip to see Zenyatta.

20 Sep 2010 10:09 AM
ruffianruns

Dr D -

Shiver me timbers (!) and I will always have your back.  I'm glad you're exploring my fave.  Thanks for the Secretariat article!  Poor "My Gallant!"  His jockey didn't believe in him against Secretariat!  I love the Bold Ruler part.  You think a Bold Ruler can't get the Classic distance?  Watch this.  One of my favorite stories about the Belmont was on an ESPN documentary I saw on YouTube.  Penny was saying that Lucien was saying, Oh my God, Ron, just don't fall off!

You know one Secretariat story I read awhile ago was about the move he made in the Preakness like he pushed the turbo button.  But I think I read that one of the jockey's on a horse that Big Red passed, said that Big Red passed him so fast that his number blew off his sleeve.  I haven't found that again, so maybe I dreamed it.

Thank you all for your wonderfulness.

20 Sep 2010 12:49 PM
Peggy

I'm not sure if this will be read by all of the people I would like to thank starting with you, Steve.  I am of the same vintage as many of the other posters (same memories), but just started following racing last year because of Rachel Alexandra winning the Preakness.  I don't have any friends or relatives who share my new interest though.  Most of them think of it as an aberration.  Something due to advancing age, I guess.  I am so appreciative of the regulars here who have made me feel a part of your community.  I recognize names now and look forward to hearing what you have to say, Zookeeper, Dr. D and so many more.  When I see your name, SomethingRoyal, I smile at the thought of Secretariat's dam.  Something I would not have done a year ago.  So, please do not stop writing, even if I never say anything more, I am here and enjoy being a part of the conversations.  I look forward to keeping up with Runflatout, and will be proud of his wins.

I think it was you, Dr. D. who mentioned the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's and the effect it had on you.  I also loved it.  (What's not to like about Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Moon River).  I saw it again recently and was surprised that the Mickey Rooney portrayal of Audrey's Japanese-American neighbor was very offensive to me.  I am Japanese-American, but it would not have occurred to me to feel offended in the mid-60s because that was not an uncommon stereotype at the time.  It took 20 years until Pat Morita could play that character as a heroic mentor in Karate Kid.  Just wondered if it bothered any of you to see the that Mickey Rooney role.    

20 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy

  It wasn't me that mentioned Breakfast at Tiffany's, it was Steve and someone else, I don't recall who. I was always disturbed by causcasians playing other ethnic roles even as a child. Caucasians playing Native Americans and Asians, and Latin Americans was very common. It takes ALL of the realism out of it for me, even when I was five years old I thought it was nutty. I've been meaning to see Breakfast At Tiffany's. I saw at least part of it as a kid, but I don't even think I've ever seen the entire movie. Most classics, I make a point of seeing them as an adult. It slipped by somehow. My favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock, then maybe Billy Wilder. I definitely like the older movies best, and have just about given up on the newer ones. I think it's great that my memory is getting worse as I get older so that I can watch classic movies from a fresh point of view !!! I wish I could have been one of the lucky ones that saw Psycho at the theatre when it first came out without knowing a thing about it. I remember in the 60's when they were supposed to show it on TV, then they canceled it. I was so disappointed. It was a long time before I was able to see it, and I'm sure by then I knew what happened in it. When it comes to movies based on fact, I believe in it being as factual as possible. It doesn't take much distortion of fact to disturb me.

20 Sep 2010 4:21 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

   I might have to breakdown and explore youtube some for some of those documentaries. I think it's been canceled now, but I loved that "jockeys" show. I think it was on Discovery or something like that. Jockeys are fascinating. Part of it is because they are so courageous. It's really cool to see them as real people rather than a betting entity. They are often overlooked. Their injuries are atrocious. They have to love what they are doing to stick with it. If they don't love it, then it makes it one of the world's toughest jobs.

20 Sep 2010 4:30 PM
Zookeeper

Peggy,

Welcome to the circle! The more the merrier! It never ceases to amaze me that ONE horse is all it takes to bring people to the sport. Oh! but what a horse, the filly that captured you!

You're a fine example of "it's never too late" to develop an interest in horseracing. There is something there for everybody. The history is so rich, the present so amazing and the future always holds the promise of the next Triple Crown winner. I'm glad Rachel led you to this great sport and to us!

20 Sep 2010 4:30 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  I'm having a hard time with the death of Pretty Unusual. She was a beauty, and I really liked her eventhough I usually lost when I bet on her. She was one of my favorites. She almost always looked great and enthusiastic.

20 Sep 2010 4:39 PM
Slew

As I get older, I find I get away with a lot more "so-called" aberrations. I have force-fed my kids some of racing's finest moments, and they now know when they come to visit, HRTV will be on, and they're not watching anything else.  I almost got my youngest up to Saratoga this summer, but it was I who couldn't make the trip...darn!  It has always amazed that that some things that were new to me so long ago, are being re-discovered by my kids.  "Breakfast At Tiffany's" has since thrilled my daughter and granddaughter.  "Sunset Boulevard" mesmerized my teenager when all he ever watched were neon versions of music on MTV.  My oldest son brought me a tape of a great new duo he had heard (the original record was already sitting on my shelf for 20 years) called Simon and Garfunkel.  It's like riding on a merry-go-round, and catching the brass ring with every turn of a generation.  

I hope the "Secretariat" movie gives them the same joy ride I got when I first saw the original.

20 Sep 2010 5:37 PM
Peggy

Dr. D. and Zookeeper,

Thanks so much for your responses to my post.  And thank you, Zookeeper for the kind words about Rachel.  She is a beauty, isn't she?  I know from your past posts that you are a Zenyatta fan (as am I), but I wouldn't have ever known about Z had I not loved Rachel first.  

I am honored to have made your acquaintances and look forward to reading more from you in the future.  I get more information from this forum than from Facebook.

20 Sep 2010 6:17 PM
ruffianruns

Peggy - What a sweet post.  Thank you for piping up!  Rachel brought me back into the racing world at the Preakness too!  I'd heard some rumors that she was being compared to my Ruffian and I would have NONE of that.  And then I fell in love, and I've become more involved than ever.  I thank you for your take on Mickey Rooney.  That stuff can hurt.  And I realize that that's how most movies and TV shows even today are cast.  I generally let the older movies slide, but if it's too much I don't.  As a fiery Chicana, I try to laugh at the casting, but many times it just hurts.  I'm actually a German, Native American, Irish, Mexican mutt - darker than your average bear - and raised around the Mexican/Native side.  You know what I find SO sad?  I'm actually finding myself SCARED to divulge that information!  My breath has shortened and there is tightness in my chest.  Wow...  Oh, but I just read the beginning of Dr D's post to you!  My fellow longtime 49er fan!  He's got my back!

20 Sep 2010 6:53 PM
ruffianruns

Dr D - You better have my back!  I really hope you check out YouTube - I sat my mom down the other day and showed her Steve's Secretariat blogs and the pictures and read her half of them!  Then I played her that ESPN doc.  Just search for Secretariat Part 1.  Today I ordered "The Life & Times of Secretariat" and I'm so excited!  I never saw the Jockey's show, cause I don't have cable.  I woulda been glued.  Dan Illman's latest blog started out talking about jockeys and he says "pound-for-pound, I believe jockeys are the strongest athletes in the world... Part of their job is to have an ambulance follow them around the track..."  Then he gave donation info for Michael Martinez.  Sweet.

Just read the remaining posts.

U and Zoo

are too

cool.

20 Sep 2010 6:55 PM
Zookeeper

Dr. Drunkinbum,

I can't believe it either. What emergency surgery? Was it colic? Man, this is sad news... May she rest in peace. My thoughts are with her connections.

I always pay attention to offsprings of Unusual Heat. What a sire he's proven to be. I remember when his babies started burning the tracks. I had no idea who he was. Had never heard of him. Boy! did I get a quick education! Not only can they run, but they have heart. Wonder how they will fare on the new SA dirt track.

20 Sep 2010 7:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Do they still have bon bons at the movie theatre? Is popcorn still a dime for the small bag, unbuttered with massive amounts of salt? Slew, that's funny. I remember when Sounds of Silence first came out on the radio, AM of course. I was at a friends house. Peggy- thanks, glad you're here at the best show in town.

20 Sep 2010 7:33 PM
Zookeeper

Peggy,

That's how it goes. You fall for one horse and all of a sudden, you love a lot of them. They have this way of getting into your heart, don't they? Yes, I'm a big Zenyatta fan but she doesn't mind sharing my affections with Rachel, Mine That Bird, Blame, Gio Ponti, Evening Jewel, Blind Luck, Quality Road, Paddy O'Prado, Lookin at Lucky etc... etc...etc... and that's only a few of the ones still racing. You don't want to get me started on the ones who have retired or passed on to greener pastures... The list keeps growing and growing... I hope it never stops!

20 Sep 2010 7:49 PM
txhorsefan

After telling myself earlier I was not going to come back and post yet another comment, I just had to say to Peggy that I'm so glad you're here, ditto what Zookeeper said.  You are right, too, in noting how the sight of Mickey Rooney when we first saw BAT back in the 60s was, unfortunately, the norm for a movie portrayal, but that part would make us cringe seeing it today.  In my mind, that reinforces the generosity of this group.  I'm really looking forward to the new Karate Kid movie with Jackie Chan and Bindi Irwin.

Dr. D - I'm still scarred from seeing Psycho on the big screen, but yes,one of the pleasures of being my age is re-watching old movies that I can't remember.

Slew, it's the same way at my house - the kids know there will be HRTV - lol!  I love your merry go round analogy, it's perfect.  

20 Sep 2010 7:53 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

   Oh yeah, I have your back. They usually don't mess with my friends here anymore. They have to get out of the kitchen, they can't handle my heat, respectfully given of course. That's a great mix you have. I believe jockeys are the strongest athletes in the world. They do it race after race daily, not just once a week.

txhorsefan

   I bet that unlike Janet Leigh you've taken a shower since then. She never again took a shower since the making of the movie. I heard it out of her own mouth on an extra feature on a Psycho DVD.

zookeeper

  All I know is that it was emergency surgery. No other details.

Slew

   Get the young ones to the track, and make sure they win. They'll be hooked. Her's how you make sure they win- buy a $2 win ticket for every horse in the race. After the race give them just the winning ticket. "You won!!!"

20 Sep 2010 8:58 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I think it's been far too long since we sang The Jolly Good Fellow song to Steve Haskin. He works incredibly hard for us and our viewing pleasure and helps us to keep our sanity, so all together now-"For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny, which nobody can deny......"

20 Sep 2010 9:53 PM
Peggy

Dr D. I second the "jolly good fellow" for Steve.  He really deserves a lot of credit for letting us get off topic (especially since the topic is so important).  I am anxiously awaiting his next blogs on Slew and Ruffian.  I own and read the John Henry, Kelso, Dr. Fager, Ruffian, and Seattle Slew books from the Thoroughbred Legends series and I am truly honored to be on this blog with the author.  

Ruffianruns, thank you for sharing.  I had also heard Rachel compared to Ruffian, so naturally I went on-line to find out about this other horse who was said to be the best filly ever.  I didn't know the details of her story and broke down when I saw her break down in the match race.  I couldn't stop crying, but am ready now to hear the story from Steve.  

Dr. D, you always make me laugh.  I spent a career in medicine (human) because I couldn't get into vet school, but I never met any Doctors like you.  You should have gone into medicine, what a bedside manner you would have.  Actually, I take that back.  I am happy for what you do for us, you would never be fully appreciated in medical school.

20 Sep 2010 11:26 PM
Peggy

Txhorsefan,

Sorry I forgot to thank you for your kind comments.  I think your're right about the generosity of the group (starting with Steve).

20 Sep 2010 11:29 PM
ruffianruns

"...which nobody can deny!"

Is that true about Janet Leigh?

I can't find hardly anything on Pretty Unusual.  TB Times says that the reason for the surgery wasn't specified in the release.  So sad.  I hope these sweet creatures go to the most wonderful place.

On a happier note, Presious Passion is back!

txhorsefan - Would you please come back and post again?

20 Sep 2010 11:52 PM
ruffianruns

Dr D - I forgot to thank you for having my back.  Thanks!  And I think your suggestion to Slew is too cool.

Peggy - I guess Rachel's people still haven't said she'll be racing in the Beldame, huh?  I was surprised that no plans had been confirmed.  My heart hurts for her.  She just set expectations so high last year.

21 Sep 2010 8:53 AM
Slew

To everyone-thanks.

Dr. D and Ruffianruns: Who dat?

(Sorry-I just had to)

Dr D..The Smothers Brother were at my college gym in '63, and a friend of mine, who worked security, got me in to see Simon and Garfunkle in '64 at the armory nearby.  (When a concert was a concert without all the hoopla and fireworks-just music).

My kiddos have no interest in horse racing, however, they would be kind enough to take me to the track anytime I asked.  However, I'm discovering that I am unable to do so.

My advice to everyone is this...if you love or deeply admire any horse, and would like to see them...do it now.  Otherwise you will discover when you finally have the time and finances to eventually go to the track, either your horse will long be gone, or your get up and go will have got up and went....without you.

Meantime...go see "Secretariat". Even with pimples, it's better than no Secretariat at all.

And Steve: you're more than "jolly good"...you're bloody well jolly good!

21 Sep 2010 9:13 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy

  Thank you. The medical field is tough. I couldn't have done it. They definitely should spend more time in medical school teaching good bedside manners and less on the terrible handwriting class.

Slew

   That's great. My first concert was Santana, 1970.

ruffianruns

    I know it sounds strange, but she sounded very sincere when she said it. I believe her.(no showers since 1960). I heard her say it(on video) not too long before her death. Over 40 years without a shower. I suspect that she took baths though. She looked very clean.

21 Sep 2010 12:33 PM
Linda in Texas

Good Dr. Bumster, a little nostalgia here, my first live concert was between 1955 and 1956,

held at The Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, TX, where friends owned the concessions and the featured attraction:**ELVIS**  Got to sit on the front row right by the speakers, was about 10 feet from Elvis wearing dark brown slacks, a dark blue blazer and lots of hair !! I was 15.

Later, when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan show for the first time, my father changed the station because Elvis had the reputation of perhaps gyrating obscenely and i guess my eyes were too young or my father was too protective. Later i found out the TV cameraman did not film him from the waist down !!!!

My dad i guess did not remember i had seen him in person!!!

Elvis ended up marrying Priscilla whose father was stationed at Randolph AFB, TX and her mother owned a beauty shop where in later years my operator moved to, it was located on the AFB. This was right before the time Elvis began seeing

Priscilla and it was a big secret.

Her mother was very nice but i never met Priscilla.

Saw Nat King Cole at The Auditorium and later  Mary Martin in South Pacific and Louis Armstrong at the Coliseum before his death and

Herb Alpert with The Commodores.

I am old but i don't 'fergit' nuttin!

Steve, i have been missing Mary in Vermont. Have not seen her post in a while. Hope she is okay.

And==though this is personal, how are Joan and Mandy???? Have missed your mentioning them. Hope they are well.  Please tell them hello from us and thank them for allowing you to spend so much of your time with us.

Thank you Steve.

P.S. A Tapit 'juvie' 2 year old won the 9th Race last Saturday night at The Charles Town Races, his name is

"Bandbox" and he earned $100,000 for his owner Mrs. Charles that night.(Watched it on HRTV.) It was Pink Ribbon night for Cancer Research.

He is a big tall fella and won by several lengths. Would it be possible maybe that he might be considered for the Juvenile Breeder's Cup? I liked the smooth way he runs. Naturally, he is a gray roan and quite handsome.

At first he was not listed as being sired by Tapit, but on Monday i saw he was added under Tapit listed on The Stallion Register. Seeing that a Tapit offspring just sold at Keeneland, thought someone might be interested to know about Bandbox.

And welcome Peggy. We all started out just like you. And we stayed!

21 Sep 2010 2:11 PM
ruffianruns

Good one Slew.  Who dat team dat BARELY beat us?  I was rooting for them last year!  That Super Bowl was amazing.

21 Sep 2010 4:08 PM
ruffianruns

My first concert, in utero, was Joan Baez '64 or '65.  And I love her today!  My first concert, out utero, was Journey in '81 or '82.

All your concerts sound GREAT!

Did you see the movie Walk the Line?  I loved it and was blown away with all those early concerts in school gyms with Johnny Cash, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, June Carter.  Can you imagine seeing them all at once?

21 Sep 2010 4:49 PM
txhorsefan

Linda - how fun that you got to see Elvis  live in concert, but your dad wouldn't let you watch him on tv - I love it!  Yes, back in those days of concerts and dances at the armories, etc., people could even afford the price of admission.  The events they hold now days, where you can't even see the folks on the stage, are so outrageously expensive, I refuse to go...well, besides being so cranky in my old age that I don't like huge crowds any more - lol!  And yes, Dr. D, I have taken lots of showers - lol!  Slew's right again - Steve's more than a jolly good fellow to all of us and we definitely should go see the horses we love and admire while we have them to appreciate.  I'm so excited for ruffianruns and cleone to be going to HP to see Zenyatta's race.  I will forever hold cherished the glimpses of her I got to see through the white blossoms at Oaklawn.  I'm so grateful Steve is bringing to life the stories of the horses of the past and you all are providing links to more races, SI stories and so much enabling me to more enjoy them as I learn  about them.  Thanks all.

21 Sep 2010 10:52 PM
sherpa

As always, late to the party but: Welcome to the blog stable, Peggy!  Anybody who loves horses will find a home here! :-)

21 Sep 2010 10:55 PM
Peggy

Sherpa,

Thanks for your kind words.  I am overwhelmed by the responses from people whose knowledge I've admired from afar.  Wow, how exciting!

Ruffianruns and I are arranging to meet at HP.  She promises to let me watch Rachel run on the simulcast as she will be in either the Beldame or the JCGC.  She will have my back in case of rabid Z fan attack.  If anyone else can make it out to the park we'd love to meet up with you.

Thanks again, everyone.

22 Sep 2010 1:24 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

  That is amazing. How lucky you were to see Elvis back when he was young, and starting to change the world. Did you see the movie where Elvis met Nixon? I think it's great.

22 Sep 2010 1:53 AM
ruffianruns

Dr D - I'm still blown away by Janet Leigh saying that she never took showers after.  Your "bath" comment on the other blog killed me!  I'm glad you made berttheclock laugh.

txhorsefan - I'm glad you got to see Zen at Oaklawn!  I'm getting so excited to head out to CA.  When I told a doctor friend of mine about the trip, she said she would have to go too to resuscitate me!

Peggy - I'll have your back!

22 Sep 2010 9:47 AM
Cleone

Peggy & ruffianruns, I'll be at HP on the 2nd, too.  Flying in from Colorado just to see my girl!  Would love to meet up with you guys.  rbain9 at earthlink.net

22 Sep 2010 10:15 AM
Backtalk

Howard Gregory, no wiser or more accurate words will ever be spoken about any racehorse--A horse like Secretariat. That will never happen no more.”No horse like Secretariat will ever be again!" Thanks for the article Steve.

22 Sep 2010 5:08 PM
ruffianruns

Cleone and Peggy,

I just sent you an email about what I've learned, where I'm staying, my talk with John Shirreffs, etc.

22 Sep 2010 7:09 PM
sharksfan1

William SHanklin in The Bloodhorse of Sept 04 wrote about Secretariat. Mr. Shanklin said, and I believe it as well, the too many people in the racing world are quick to attach the word 'great" to horses who do ot deserve the title.

Thinking back on horses of the past, and the impact they made, both on and off the track, the term great applies to a select few. Secretariat is one of those. I was blessed to watch him run on TV live, although I never saw him in person. Just like the 1980 USA Hockey Team brought a country to it's feet, so did that 3 year-old chestnut colt and his connections.

It was a magical time for horse racing.

22 Sep 2010 7:45 PM
starberry

Before there was Secretariat, there was The Bride.

Bet none of you bloggers remember her; she was eminently forgettable!

But the Chenerys bred SomethingRoyal to Bold Ruler on a foal sharing arrangement and Claiborne wno the first foal, a brown filly.We saw her at Saratoga, I think as maiden 2yo and fell in love with her and of course her breeding. We lost our bet as she finished somewhere up the track, and never did much in the stud either. I have always felt a personal interest when I see her descendants in stakes pedigrees in the magazines.

Visiting Claiborne to see Secretariat we mentioned her to his stud groom and he absolutely exploded, "What you know about dat no'count mare? and he told us how she was a perfect witch to breed and heartily disliked at the farm.

I have always heard that it was his x chromosome that imparted greatness to Secretariat, but his sister did not share the benefit.

22 Sep 2010 8:45 PM
starberry

whoops. sorry. I said Claiborne and I meant Mr. Phipps who owned Bold Ruler, of course.

Steve, do you know if there was a third foal from the cross?

and I want to add my THANKS to YOU for such an interesting trip down memory lane.

23 Sep 2010 8:44 AM
Cleone

The other Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal foal I know about is Syrian Sea, who was a stakes-winner at two and stakes-placed at three.  Many people like to hold The Bride up as an example of why breeders shouldn't bother with full siblings - but then you figure Secretariat is the result of trying to reproduce Syrian Sea... and that didn't turn out too bad!  

23 Sep 2010 10:33 PM
txhorsefan

Thanks for the tip about the other matings of Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal - I had no idea.  I enjoyed my time this afternoon looking up The Bride on pedigree query and searching around for her progeny, etc.  She really didn't do too bad after all.  Next I'll have to go learn more about Syrian Sea, so again...thanks!

24 Sep 2010 9:01 PM
TNT

I watched the race then, and I watched it again tonight at the movies!  I 'ran that race again' just as I did the day it happened.  A finer horse will never run.  He had heart, intelligence, and a willingness every horse owner wants to find. The only  'competing' animal that has come close in my mind, is 'BIG BEN'.  Another horse that stands alone in his field.

Great show.  Go see it  

12 Oct 2010 11:58 PM

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