Horse Racing

After a change of plans, the Secretariat launches in 3YO

After losing his first race of his career on July 4, 1972, the Meadow Stable Secretariat finished first in the remaining eight tests at the age of 2, although he was eliminated and placed second in the race. Champagne Stakes for alleged jamming. Five of his wins were at stake and he was brilliant enough to become the first 2-year-old since Colin 65 years earlier to win the Horse of the Year title outright.

The scary thing about his competition is that as he gets closer to his 3-year-old season, the Secretariat just keeps getting better and better.

“He’s a very impressive 2-year-old and he’s growing up,” commented Ron Turcotte, who will ride Bold Ruler’s son—Somethingroyal, of Princequillo, in all of his starts except The first and last two times of his career began in October 1973, when Turcotte was serving a suspended sentence.

“The secretariat has progressed when we’ve been together. As soon as I grabbed him when he turned 3, I realized how much he’s matured. He’s a stronger horse. , faster to pass and find my feet under his feet. I could have let him run faster in the first place.”

A lot of people are leaving the racetrack, which will affect the start of the Secretariat’s 1973 campaign. The founder of Meadow Stable, longtime horseman Christopher Chenery, passed away on January 3 after a long illness. He was hospitalized when his Riva Ridge won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes the year before.

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The day-to-day operation of the stables fell into the hands of Chenery’s daughter, Helen “Penny” Tweedy, a mother of three living in Colorado, after her two siblings expressed a desire to leave the equine world immediately. ie. Tweedy, as a newbie to the Thoroughbred industry, was an accomplished jockey with no business experience, having been one of the first female students to graduate from Columbia University’s School of Business.

Tweedy directed Seth Hancock, who had just taken over Claiborne Ranch after his father, Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock Jr., died, holding the Secretariat for the winter between seasons 2 and 3 of the foal’s 2nd and 3rd year ponies. . Hancock, who cut his job considering the record share price of $190,000, sold the 28 shares he had to offer for about $6 million, the highest trading level in history.

The secretariat, wintering in Florida, shunned any activity revolving around him in the North, nevertheless engaged in his own drama. While settling in at Hialeah Park, he developed a small splint in his foreleg that needed to be pinned. He quickly returned to training for a campaign that was initially built around Flamingo Stakes (G1), Florida Derby (G1), Blue Grass Stakes (G1), and then Kentucky Derby (G1). It’s a plan outlined by Tweedy, secretary of Meadow Stable, Elizabeth Ham, and coach Lucien Lauren last fall in New York.

Penny Chenery said in 2013: “We mapped out a three-year campaign assuming everything was going well. “Lucien would tell me the options, and I learned to trust it. him as well as leaving him free to plan. We had a strategy in place in the fall, but nothing was as simple as you’d expect.”

Laurin has received a share in the Secretariat consortium, and he is in no hurry to run the Secretariat and risk reducing the value of his shares until the syndication is formally done. So even though the Secretariat was quickly recovered and ready to go, Laurin decided to forego the Southern strategy, reduce the Secretariat’s training, and delay his launch 3 years ago. until mid-March in New York. By the end of February, the Secretariat again prepared for activities.

“Before we brought him to New York, we had a pretty good relationship with him,” Turcotte said. “Then when we got to New York, we got serious and started preparing him for (March 17) Bay Shore (G3).”

Meanwhile, Chenery had moved to New York after her husband, Jack Tweedy, took a job there, which proved convenient because she wanted to be in every Secretariat race. She contacted Laurin about once a week to get updates from Florida. As good as the Secretariat is already at 2, there are always worries about a horse advancing and coming back the same, or better.

“Sure, there were doubts,” said Chenery, “because he’s big and precocious and you’ve heard all about the daring Rulers who can’t run that far. He’s a kid. flashy 2 year old, but can he make it to 3?My philosophy is just wait and see If he does, let him show me.

“Plus, we won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont last year with Riva Ridge, so two years in a row makes me more doubtful. We were lucky once, now really, we can look forward to it. wait for that again?”

However, when she has her eye on her assignment in New York, Chenery likes her chance.

She recalls: “He was big and sparkly and gorgeous before the first race that year. “He was very confident and enjoyed himself. He was almost my life at the time.”

Three days before Bay Shore, the Secretariat worked three times in: 32 3/5. For the average person, such a quick move would mean that the horse had dropped out of his race in practice. However, Turcotte knew this was no ordinary horse.

“No worries,” he said. “He’s ready to run. He’s a big eater and does well. We followed that path with him as a 2-year-old and we haven’t changed the mold. I let it go. He crosses the line and that’s how he works.”

Mother Nature threw a curved ball at the Secretariat’s return as heavy rain drenched the New York area the day before the Bay Shore. While a sloppy track is another factor to deal with, Secretariat relations remain calm, knowing Big Red won an eight-length Future Laurel in the slide in September. 10 earlier.

Five enemies lined up to face the Secretariat in the seven-mile Gulf Coast at the Aqueduct on an uncomfortably gray afternoon, and all but one overtook him early on, a style Turcotte had adopted. many times used.

“I always wanted him to be at my feet,” said Turcotte. “I never wanted to rush him; just give him time and then pick the position I want, depending on the pace. He’s very cooperative and easy to manage. He’s still maturing into. At that time and I don’t see any reason to change the style right away Lucien and I will talk and at some point we want to do something different with him because when I Working with him, I can do anything with him.”

The secretariat finished fifth on the Bay Shore early, six miles behind the leader. When Turcotte started moving along the tracks, he was still behind his horse and Champagne Charlie pinned him from the outside. After walking around for a while, there was nowhere to go.

“I stayed in the house because of the horse in front of me (Impunious), I knew it was always trying to get out,” Turcotte said. “I waited until I thought I might have to turn around, and at that moment I saw that horse come out so I sat down and got inside it; the hole opened, and we went straight in. .”

Secretariat after the Bay Shore Stakes in 1973
Photo: Bob Coglianese

Secretariat in the winner’s circle after the 1973 Bay Shore Stakes

Several written accounts of the Bay Shore have described a narrow gaping hole closing and the Secretariat crashing as he passed. Turcotte thinks it’s nothing dramatic.

“Going through there is no big deal,” he said. “When he was in gear, I knew they were separating and we rolled and passed without hitting anyone. No bounce. I took him out for a couple of races because of me. didn’t want him to be stopped once he was rolling. This time I took the chance and it worked. He just went straight through and galloped.”

However, it was close enough that a statement of foul was brought against the Secretariat by driver Jimmy Moseley on Impeunious. However, if anything, the Secretariat suffered from the horse inside him, Realism, and the claim was not accepted.

The secretariat won the Bay Shore by 4 1/2 in 1:23 1/5 against Champagne Charlie with Impecunious finishing third on the sloppy track. In the box Chenery breathed a sigh of relief.

“When he split the horse, that definitely gave us hope and confidence,” she said. “I remember very well the look on the horse’s face: ‘I could go around, but I’ll just go through.’ He did it with such confidence that I thought we were ready for a big and strong spring. I didn’t say that because I didn’t want to look like a fool if it didn’t. happen.”

The Secretariat finished well after the race, leaving smiles all around for his relieved team, now certain that he made the transition from 2 to 3 with talent and energy. his strength intact.

The Secretariat will return in three weeks for Gotham Shares (G2).


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