At a time of war in the United States, when hopes were low, there was an unlikely hero. No, he was not the kind of hero with a red cape or superpowers, but he was the color red and he did possess breakneck speed. His name was Secretariat, or "Big Red" as he came to be known.
Secretariat, a large chestnut stallion, was born on March 30, 1970, at (the now called) Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, Virginia. He was bred and raised by Helen Bates "Penny" Chenery. Although it is recorded that her father, Christopher Chenery, was the official breeder of Secretariat, Penny is the one that decided to breed their mare Somethingroyal to their stallion Bold Ruler. This resulted in Secretariat.
The young two-year-old would go on to win many first starts as well several awards including the Horse of the Year in 1972. But it was not until 1973 that this young steed won his greatest victory. It was the Belmont Stakes. The crowd was buzzing with activity and excitement as the race began. Secretariat was running for the Triple Crown. If he won, he would be the first horse to do so in 25 years.
There he was at the gate, ready to begin the race. Tension was high as were the stakes. There was a war on as well as scandal. But the nation looked to a chestnut colt for hope and inspiration. As Secretariat rounded that final turn, he began to run with all his heart leaving every other horse in the dust (literally). He gained the lead by a record 31 lengths, thus securing him as the Triple Crown winner of 1973.
The crowd was abuzz once more with excitement. Secretariat became a folk hero. His photo was printed on various magazines at the time and he has been considered one of America's top athletes by ESPN.
But Secretariat won more than a "crown" that day, he won the hearts of many people across the country. The "horse with heart." He was America's horse. He was the horse that could.