In honor of Sports Illustrated's 60th anniversary, the magazine's website is republishing 60 of its best stories. On Friday, “Pure Heart,” a story by Bill Nack chronicling the life and death of champion Secretariat, was the featured story.
“It was about as honest as anything I've ever written,” said Nack in a Q&A session accompanying the story, which originally ran on June 4, 1990. That was less than a year after Secretariat was euthanized due to complications from laminitis on Oct. 4, 1989.
Nack had followed Secretariat's career from his maiden race, through his Triple Crown campaign, and into his retirement to stud. A day before the stallion's death, Nack visited Claiborne Farm to interview Seth Hancock for a story he was doing. When asked if he could see Secretariat, Hancock replied, “I'd rather you not.” A day before that, Nack had seen the stallion grazing, looking healthy. “Remember him how you saw him, that way,” Hancock said.
Though initially reluctant to write “Pure Heart,” especially soon after the horse's death, Nack said in the Q&A that he was “most proud of that story than any I've ever written.”
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