The Miracle of Secretariat


As the sounds of "My Old Kentucky Home" announced the 99th "Run for the Roses", goose bumps appeared and our hearts pounded, watching the appearance of the most magnificent chestnut horse to ever grace this land-our Virginia native and The Meadow's Secretariat! Our strapping, magnifi cent chestnut was born March 30, 1970, in Doswell, Virginia, 30 minutes north of Richmond, my hometown, giving all Virginians a special connection with him. We considered him our own, even though the true privilege belonged to Penny Chenery Tweedy. Amazed, Howard Gentry, who delivered Secretariat, said, "He has a lot of bone and energy. Less than an hour after he arrived he was kicking at me, looking for his fi rst meal!" Young Secretariat did not know he bore the task of saving the fabulous Meadow Stud Farm, the cherished tradition of the Chenery family, losing its life as Secretariat was born. Because of the beauty and strength embodied in his stature, hopes and dreams rested on his performance. He was exhilarating, yet within minutes, heartbreaking in his early races, but that was to change.

Sired by Bold Ruler and Something Royal, Secretariat, in the blue and
white colors of Washington & Lee College, The Miracle of Secretariat
strode majestically to the Churchill Downs starting gate. Muscles rippling
in the sunlight, greatness straining to be released, the two-year old exhibited an eagerness to accomplish his major first challenge-winning the Derby. Poised, yet impatient to run, this symbol of tradition awaited his cue. "They're off!" blended with the thundering hoofs that May afternoon
when Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, reached for his first mark in history. After a heart-stopping slow start, the great stallion staged a staggering comeback, capturing a record-breaking win as the only horse in history to ever run the Derby in under two minutes. His record still stands!
His monster move around the turn to take command with a breath-taking sensational win of The Preakness was termed "spectacular." By now he had captured the hearts and admiration of millions. Even though the experts doubted his awesome speed could endure the one and a half mile Belmont Stakes distance, Secretariat was more than equal to the task. Described as "moving like a tremendous machine", he streaked from last to fi rst. His 31-length victory in 2:24 is considered the most astounding
performance in horseracing history, and gave him the honor of the coveted Triple Crown Title, the fi rst in 25 years!

"Oh Lord, he's perfect!" declared Pat Putnam in a 1973 Sports Illustrated article. He was 16.2 hands, 1150 pounds of sheer power and beauty! He was Secretariat! Owner Penny Chenery Tweedy risked high stakes by syndicating Secretariat for a record-breaking $6.2 million, feeling he was capable of winning the Triple Crown. As Seth Hancock, one of Secretariat's syndicated investors once quipped," He is a beautiful animal, a great, big, strong, unfl awed horse. He's, well... he's a hell of a horse!"

Upon his retirement to stud at Claiborne Farms at the end of  the 1973 season, he had won 16 of 21 starts. Nicknamed "Big Red", Secretariat was named horse of the year as a two-year-old and three-year-old and appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated in the same week. When his life was claimed in 1989, at age 19, by a painful hoof disease (laminitis) his obituary began on page A-1 of the New York Times. It brought heart-wrenching sadness and tears to millions.

More than a magnificent racehorse, he was a cherished friend of Mrs. Tweedy. In a conversation with her after his death, she remembered sadly, "He was so handsome, intelligent and charismatic. It's hard to believe he was such a great racehorse. He was a real competitor and always seemed to understand his job. He loved running and pleasing people. Whatever
task was set for him, he worked at doing it the best. There will never be another Secretariat."

A group of MIT scientists once programmed Secretariat's vital statistics into a computer. "It told them he was impossible," stated a 1989 New Woman article. Dr. Thomas Swerczek who helped perform the autopsy on Secretariat said the champion possessed "the largest equine heart I've ever seen! It was twice the size of a normal horse heart. No wonder he
achieved the incredible!" It's been more than 35 years since Secretariat ran his last race, yet memories of his astounding performances blaze as brightly as if only last week. "For this is Secretariat rising to the call... THIS IS SECRETARIAT... really says it all."

To put into words something that will last
To write about greatness is a difficult task.
But when beauty and strength are combined into one,
We certainly must speak of it and wonder how it's done.
Bold Ruler and Something Royal were the cause of it all
And because of their love a colt grew tall.
Each day his strength steadily increased
And soon it was known the stars could be reached.
For the second "Man of War" had graced our land
With head held high and a stride that was grand!
And some said one so strong could not be fast
And if there was speed it could not last.
But he proved what men say can often be wrong
By winning the BIG THREE with a heart and a song.
Thru the Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont he flew
And his great winnings made dreams come true.
In twenty-five years we've not seen such races
And no other horses could match his paces.
As the Blue and the White flashed down the stretch
Our hearts beat faster, and we catch our breath...
For this is Secretariat rising to the call!
For THIS IS SECRETARIAT really says it all!
- NancyLee Honey, 1974

To purchase one of the 25 remaining Collector's Limited Edition prints featured above, Call NancyLee Honey-Marsh 843-689-2011

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