Greatest Racehorse Ever? Secretariat Still Holding On To Belmont Record After 40 Years [VIDEO]

Secretariat
Secretariat running in his pen at his home on the farm. screen shot, YouTube.com

Secretariat is considered to be the greatest racehorse who ever lived. Fourty-years ago this weekend, Secretariat made history when he won the Triple Crown, setting a record at the Belmont Stakes that has yet to be broken.

On June 9, 1973 Secretariat was loaded into the starting gate at the Belmont Stakes as the favorite to win. The big red horse had just come off an impressive pair of victories at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, setting records in both races.

Now it was time to see if Secretariat could make history and win a Triple Crown for himself, his jockey Ron Turcotte, his trainer Lucien Laurin and his owner Penny Chenery. For Penny Chenery the wait to see if all her hard work and sacrifice over three years had paid off, was about to come to an end.

Secretariat would prove that any doubt Ms. Chenery may have had was all for not. When the starting gate opened Secretariat was out in front, his toughest opponent Sham was pushing him hard. The pressure of the legacy Secretariat was building did not seem to bother him. As the race continued Secretariat kept pulling away from the pack, going further and as the announcer described him "looking like a tremendous machine."

In record setting time Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes in two minutes and twenty-four seconds. He led the pack at an impressive 31 lengths, looking like he might keep going and lap the other horses when he crossed the finish line.

Secretariat was an impressive horse, not just because of his outstanding racing career but because of his look and build. Nicked named "Big Red," Secretariat was chestnut colored, standing at 16'2 hands high, weighing 1,200 pounds.

Newsweek columnist Pete Axthelm described Secretariat's look with a lyrical style.

Secretariat generates a crackling tension and excitement wherever he goes. Even in the kind of grey weather that shrouds lesser animals in anonymity, Secretariat's muscular build identifies him immediately. His glowing reddish coat is a banner of health and rippling power. Magnificent enough at rest...When he accelerates he produces a breath taking explosion that leaves novices are hardened horsemen alike convinced that, for one of those moments that seldom occur in any sport, they have witnessed genuine greatness.

Following Secretariat two other horses won the Triple Crown. But no horse has come close to breaking the record he set at the Belmont. It has been 40-years since Secretariat has won the Triple Crown and the horse racing industry has pulled out all the stops in order to celebrate a horse whose heart matched his talent.

"He was a show off," Chenery said to the Baltimore Sun. "A performer responds to his audience, so Secretariat was having a good time."

The Kentucky Derby Museum sold out of tickets for their 40th anniversary Secretariat exhibit, held on May 1. At the event Four Roses bourbon unveiled a special Secretariat bottle commemorating Secretariat's anniversary.

"Fast horses and fine Bourbon are two of my favorite things," Penny Chenery said at the event.

On Saturday June 8, 2013 the best of today's top race horses will run in the Belmont Stakes. Racing fans were hoping that this would be there year we see a Triple Crown winner when Orb won the Kentucky Derby.

Orb wasn't able to pull off a victory at the Preakness Stakes losing to Oxbow, a favorite from the Derby. The Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be a grudge match between two horses believed to be able to go all the way.

Horse Racing is a globally popular sport. In Latin America horse racing became popular in the 19th century when, according to OSAF, "races began to be organized in the English style and with the environment of the race track."

South America, which OSAF says is well known for its production of commodities has one of the world's top thoroughbred breeding programs operating in countries like Argentina and Chile. The South American breeding operations also have programs which send their top horses to foreign countries in order to breed with the best international sires and damns.

What do you think?

Amanda Schiavo holds a B.A in History from Pace University and has been a member of the Latin Times team since May 2013. She is an amateur historian, an aficionado of all things Disney, is an animal enthusiast and an accomplished equestrian. Schiavo enjoys writing human-interest pieces and stories related to helping animals and animal rights. Schiavo has been a journalist for four years and has written for Brooklyn Today as well as several other publications.