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The history of Secretariat: The unstoppable horse that set unbeaten records for all three Triple Crown races

Secretariat is the most well-known racehorse in history. The 1973 Triple Crown winner, who was owned by Penny Chenery, still holds unbroken records for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. 

The horse, also known as Big Red, won most of the races he ran by a landslide leading into the Triple Crown.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Farm in Virginia in March 1970. When he was two years old, his racing career began. His very first race was on July 4, 1972, at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City. Big Red got off to a rocky start after being bumped at the beginning of the race. He finished in fourth place.

Secretariat and Ron Turcotte after winning the Kentucky Derby

Secretariat was ridden by jockey Ron Turcotte for most of his racing career, including the Triple Crown races. (Jerry Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images)

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In 1973, Secretariat started the racing season off on a high, winning his first race at Aqueduct racetrack and his second at Gotham Stakes. 

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Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte racing in the Belmont Stakes

The records set by Secretariat in the three Triple Crown races still stand today. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

The third race of the year, the race that happened to be right before the Kentucky Derby, was a bit troublesome for the horse, and he ended up finishing third. Secretariat also suffered from a painful abscess on the top of his mouth prior to the race.

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Secretariat statue

A statue of Secretariat in Lexington, Kentucky. (Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In October 1989, Secretariat was put down due to an incurable hoof condition called laminitis, but he would be remembered as arguably the greatest racehorse in history. 

Throughout his life, Secretariat raced with heart… literally. After he was put down, a necropsy was done by Dr. Thomas Swerczek, who discovered that Secretariat’s heart was bigger than any other he had ever seen. 

Secretariat set records that are still in place today. Though other horses have been compared to Secretariat, none have beaten the times set by the remarkable racehorse. 

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