No racehorse has ever captured the hearts of U.S. racing fans quite like Secretariat. In 1973, “Big Red” embarked upon an unforgettable Triple Crown-winning campaign with a string of dominant classic victories that will never be matched to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of that remarkable season, and as part of the celebration we’ve put together a fun “By the Numbers” piece for the racehorse whose statistics absolutely leap off the page.
1 5/8 – The distance in miles of the longest race of Secretariat’s career, a win on grass in his career finale in the Grade 2 Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 28, 1973.
2 ½ – The margin of victory in lengths for Secretariat in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
3 – The number of riders to pilot Secretariat in his 21-race career. Apprentice jockey Paul Feliciano was aboard for Secretariat’s first two races before Hall of Famer Ron Turcotte took over for the next 18 starts (14 wins). Eddie Maple, who had ridden stablemate Riva Ridge, won aboard Secretariat in his final race. Maple guided Secretariat to a 6 ½-length win on turf in the Canadian International, while Turcotte served a suspension.
5 – The number of Eclipse Awards won by Secretariat in two seasons of racing: Horse of the Year in both 1972 and 1973; champion 2-year-old male in 1972; and champion 3-year-old male and champion turf horse in 1973.
6 – The distance in furlongs of the shortest distance at which Secretariat won a race. He won three straight races at this three-quarter-mile distance during his 2-year-old season in 1972, including the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 16.
6 – The remarkable number of records set or equaled by Secretariat in his 21 races. He still holds the records for the fastest Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes 50 years after his victories. See below for additional detail:
- 1:33 2/5 – Equaled a track record for one mile at Aqueduct in winning the 1973 Gotham Stakes.
- 1:45 2/5 – Set a new world record (since eclipsed) for 1 1/8 miles on the dirt in winning the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap by 3 ½ lengths.
- 1:53 – Track and stakes-record time (corrected in 2012, see the number 39 below) for winning the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes. While the track record for 1 3/16 miles was bettered by Farma Way (1:52.55) in 1991, the Preakness Stakes record remains intact.
- 1:59 2/5 – Track record time for winning the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby, which still stands today.
- 2:24 – North American track record (which still stands) for 1 ½ miles set at Belmont Park while winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes.
- 2:24 4/5 – Turf course record (since eclipsed) for 1 ½ miles set while winning the Man o’ War Stakes in his penultimate start Oct. 8, 1973.
9 – The number of different racetracks at which Secretariat competed, and he won at least one race at all of them.
16 – The number of victories Secretariat recorded in his Hall of Fame career.
16.2 – The reported height, in hands, of Secretariat.
19 – Secretariat’s age when he passed away Oct. 4, 1989, after a severe case of laminitis. He was born March 30, 1970 in Doswell, Va.
21 – The number of career races for “Big Red” in his two seasons of racing.
31 – The margin of victory in lengths by Secretariat in his unforgettable 1973 Belmont Stakes triumph to complete the first sweep of the Triple Crown since Citation in 1948. Secretariat was, indeed, “moving like a tremendous machine” in the Belmont runaway.
39 – The number in years the controversy dragged on surrounding Secretariat’s wining time in the Preakness Stakes. The time was originally reported as 1:55 for 1 3/16 miles, a good time but not close to Canonero II’s stakes record. Soon after the race, however, buzzworthy news spread that Daily Racing Form clocker Frank Robinson had recorded a much faster time, 1 3/5 seconds faster to be exact. The DRF chief clocker, Frenchy Schwartz, also had a final clocking of 1:53 2/5, which would have bested Canonero’s record, and a controversy was born. In 2012, the Maryland Racing Commission agreed to revisit the question and voted 7-0 to change the official time of Secretariat’s finish to 1:53 flat, a new time crafted using digital technology that didn’t exist during the 1973. Be sure to read Dave Hill’s tremendous story on the 39-year Preakness controversy.
50 – Years since Secretariat’s sweep of the 1973 Triple Crown and yet he remains the most recognizable name in U.S. Thoroughbred racing. How is that for some serious staying power?
54 – The number of stakes winners sired by Secretariat during his second career as a stallion at Claiborne Farm.
663 – The number of named foals sired by Secretariat during his second career as a stallion at Claiborne Farm, with 341 going on to become winners according to data from Equineline.
1,200 – Secretariat’s reported weight in pounds.
5,617 – The number of winning pari-mutuel tickets from the 1973 Belmont Stakes that went uncashed … worth far more as keepsakes than the return on investment for 1-to-10 odds.
$1,316,808 – The total purse earnings amassed by Secretariat during his racing career.
$3,021,025 – Lifetime earnings of Lady’s Secret, the leading earning racehorse sired by Secretariat. Lady’s Secret was named Horse of the Year in 1986 when she won 10 of 15 starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
$6.08 million – The record-setting (since eclipsed) amount that Secretariat was syndicated for on Feb. 26, 1973, before the start of his 3-year-old season.
$30,154,305 – The total purse earnings, according to Equineline, of racehorses sired by Secretariat during his second career as a stallion.