Horse > Secretariat


Arguably the greatest Thoroughbred race horse of all time, 'Big Red' won the 1973 Triple Crown with bravado.

Quick Career Stats for Secretariat

  • Starts: 21
  • Wins: 16
  • Places: 3
  • Shows: 1
  • Earnings: $1,316,808
Secretariat Pedigree
*Nasrullah (1940)
Bold Ruler (1954)
Miss Disco (1944)
Secretariat (1970)
*Princequillo (1940)
Somethingroyal (1952)
Imperatrice (1938)

How did Secretariat win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • Widely regarded as the greatest horse to ever set foot on an American racetrack, Secretariat demonstrated his extraordinary talent with an unmatched performance in the Kentucky Derby. By running every quarter mile faster than the previous, Secretariat rallied relentlessly from the back of the pack to pull away and win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:59 2/5, which remains the fastest Derby in history.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • In one of the most visually spectacular Preakness victories ever recorded, Secretariat unleashed an unprecedented burst of speed on the first turn, sweeping decisively from off the pace to take command on the backstretch. His five rivals, caught off guard, could only play an unsuccessful game of catch-up as Secretariat powered to the finish line 2 1/2 lengths clear in the record time of 1:53.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • In what was arguably the single greatest performance in the history of American racing, Secretariat shattered records in the Belmont Stakes to break a 25-year Triple Crown drought. After dueling for the lead with rival Sham through blazing fractions of :23 3/5, :46 1/5, and 1:09 4/5, Secretariat—“moving like a tremendous machine” per announcer Chic Anderson—pulled away with jaw-dropping power to win by 31 lengths. His final time of 2:24 shattered the previous Belmont record by 2 3/5 seconds and remains an unmatched standard for the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

Who was Secretariat?

From 1919 to 1948, there were eight instances in American horse racing history in which the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) was won. Then there was a long draught of 25 years in which there were no Triple Crown winners. That all changed in 1973 when Secretariat took the horse racing world by storm and made each leg of the Triple Crown that year a spectacle.

Spectators eagerly watched to see if Secretariat would make history by winning the second and third legs of the Triple Crown following his victory 2 ½ length record-setting win in the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat’s wining Kentucky Derby time in 1973 of 1:59 2/5 set a record that has yet to (and most likely never will) be broken. Next up was another 2 ½-length win, this time in the Preakness Stakes, which set up a possible shot at immortality in the Belmont Stakes.

Not only did Secretariat win the Belmont Stakes and in the process became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, but he did so in convincingly easy fashion. The son of Bold Ruler, who was trained by Lucien Laurin and ridden by Ron Turcotte, decimated the five-horse Belmont field, winning in a record time of 2:24.00 (at 1 ½ miles) and besting runner-up Twice a Prince by 31 lengths. It may very well go down in history as the most dominating performance in thoroughbred horse racing history!

When it was all said and done, Secretariat would retire with 16 wins, three runner-up finishes, and a third-place result in 21 career starts, and he earned $1,316,808. Seven of his 16 career wins were graded stakes victories (four grade one wins). He also won five Eclipse Awards during his legendary career, including twice being named Horse of the Year (1972 and 1973). Secretariat was inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1974. He died on October 4, 1989.

“I trained the greatest horse that ever lived, the greatest of them all. And now he’s gone,” said a saddened Laurin upon hearing Secretariat was euthanized. Lucien also said that he would, “never see another one like-him-that I know for sure.”

More rare photos of Secretariat

Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte in 1973. (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Secretariat on April 15, 1974. (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Video of Secretariat