Bloodlines Presented By No-No Cribbing Collar: Fifty Years Later, Secretariat Looms Large In Kentucky Derby Pedigrees - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Bloodlines Presented By No-No Cribbing Collar: Fifty Years Later, Secretariat Looms Large In Kentucky Derby Pedigrees

Secretariat in the winner’s circle of the 1973 Kentucky Derby

Fifty years ago, the hottest topic in racing, as well as the subject of numerous comments and rumors from Las Vegas odds-maker Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, was Secretariat, the son of 1957 Horse of the Year Bold Ruler who had been named the 1972 Horse of the Year following his sterling juvenile campaign.

Coming into his 3-year-old season, Secretariat had been syndicated by Seth Hancock to stand at Claiborne Farm for a record sum of $6.08 million. The syndication was for breeding purposes only, and the reason for the timing in between seasons was to help satisfy the massive inheritance taxes that had become due after the death of Meadow Stud founder Christopher Chenery.

The chestnut champion opened his 3-year-old season with a smooth success in the Bay Shore Stakes, then followed with a track-record victory in the Gotham Stakes. In the latter, Secretariat had shown a different dimension, taking command of the race much earlier than in the past and cruising to a powerful win.

Then, Secretariat ran a stinker in the Wood Memorial, finishing third behind his stablemate Angle Light (Quadrangle) and archrival Sham (Pretense). It was the first time that Secretariat had finished behind an opponent since his debut, and it was the first time the champion had raced nine furlongs.

All the cliches about “Bold Rulers can't go that far” came into heavy use as soon as Secretariat passed the finish, and with three weeks to ponder the situation before the Derby, Secretariat's doubters came out in full force. In fairness, only eight years prior, another champion chestnut by Bold Ruler, the American-bred Bold Lad, had finished third in the Wood before going to Churchill Downs and winning the Derby Trial at a mile. Then he finished unplaced in the main event.

The gut-churning possibilities for those most closely connected to Secretariat were obvious, but those handling the colt, rider Ron Turcotte and trainer Lucien Laurin, remained stoic against the winds of rumor. The colt trained beautifully, even exceptionally, at the Downs in preparation for the Kentucky classic.

On the day, the sun shone brightly on the Kentucky Derby, and Secretariat shone even brighter. The doubts and skepticism were thrown aside and reams of praise were spun on the colt's behalf. The result seemed even more impressive as the newly minted “superhorse” came from off the pace to win in stakes and track record time over Sham and Our Native, with future multiple Horse of the Year Forego in fourth place.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of that record performance, it is worth noting that two sires born in 1970 feature in the pedigrees of every American-bred Kentucky Derby contender. Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) will not be a surprise, but Secretariat is the other.

Despite the rumor that Secretariat was not a successful sire, his presence is essential in modern pedigrees, and typically, the 1973 Triple Crown winner is found not once in pedigrees but twice or three times, just like his exact contemporary. They are the two youngest sires found in all these pedigrees, although a younger pair (Deputy Minister 1979 and Unbridled 1987) are bidding to join them.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown, there is a new book available that focuses solely on the champion and his offspring, and particularly on their continuing contribution to the breed. Patricia McQueen (SECRETARIAT'S LEGACY BOOK | Patricia McQueen) has produced a gorgeously photographed volume of coffee-table dimensions that documents the sons and daughters of Secretariat and their descendants.

A journalist whose work in prose and pictures has been widely featured around the world, McQueen has traveled across the country and around the globe to report on and photograph the sons and daughters of Secretariat, in particular. Her book records not only the champions and memorable stakes winners by Secretariat but also the stallion's most noteworthy producers. Will statistics and lists of stakes winners and producers, this volume adds a significant chapter to the library of serious literature about racing and Secretariat, in particular.

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McQueen's commentary takes us from Secretariat's first Group 1 winner in England, Dactylographer, through Horse of the Year Lady's Secret and on to classic winner Risen Star. There are lovely color photo reproductions of these and other noteworthy racers, as well as horses who did not find themselves in the headlines.

Secretariat, in particular, remains vibrant in pedigrees through the excellence of his producing daughters Terlingua (Storm Cat), Secrettame (Gone West), and Weekend Surprise (A.P. Indy and Summer Squall), but there are a surprising number of other branches of transmission for Secretariat's athleticism and beauty.

As we enter the intense excitement of the Triple Crown, it is a pleasure to look back on these great memories and the horses who carry on a genetic legacy through the deeds of our current classic performers.

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