’60 Minutes Sports’ to Feature Secretariat, 1973 Triple Crown

by | 06.04.2013 | 11:20am

There may never have been nor ever be another horse as good as Secretariat and his owner knew it.  As Penny Chenery recalls her chestnut colt's Triple Crown win 40 years ago, she tells 60 MINUTES SPORTS she never used the nickname “Big Red.”  That was the name rooting fans used for the racehorse that would win the last leg of the Triple Crown by 31 lengths in a world record time some believe may never be broken. Chenery is joined by Secretariat's Hall of Fame rider, Ron Turcotte, in an anniversary feature on the great thoroughbred's historic achievement reported by Morley Safer and only on SHOWTIME Wed. June 5 at 9:00 P.M.

“I called him Secretariat, because “Big Red” was not my doing,” Chenery says with a laugh.  “Because he was an important horse…he wasn't a nickname kind of horse; he was Secretariat,” says the 91-year old racing blueblood.

The big red colt looked as good as he ran.  “He was always so good looking…he's just a stunning horse. He had good physical conformation…to be a racehorse, but he could have been a show horse,” says Chenery.

“I remember very well the first time I saw him,” recalls Turcotte.  “And I said, ‘Oh, my God…who is that beautiful colt.”

Chenery and Turcotte spoke to 60 MINUTES SPORTS at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore last month before the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of Thoroughbred Racing's  Triple Crown that begins with the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.   This Saturday (8) the third leg, the Belmont Stakes, will be run at Belmont Park in New York, the site of Secretariat's record setting Triple Crown victory 40 years ago.

Only 11 horses have achieved the U.S. Triple Crown in almost a century of racing.  Secretariat also set track records in the Derby and the Preakness on his way to the Crown – a record that still stands today.

  • Secretariat is one of my favorite horses and I love to watch his triple crown videos. But I differ with the notion that he may have been the greatest horse ever. Maybe the best 3 year old ever but he was clearly beatable as a 4 year old. Could there have been other 4 or 5 year olds that could best him at a mile and a half? Maybe – maybe not. Could there be or had been an older horse that could best his mile and a half? Maybe there could have been but then we have been on a manic mission to avoid breeding or training or creating the cards for those kinds of horses so we will never know. The fact that we have retreated from the conditions that would encourage us to try to beat Secretariats legacy is a shame. We may never ever have a chance to go there again.

    • handgunnar

      “…but he was clearly beatable as a 4 year old.”

      I’m curious as to how you came to that conclusion, since Secretariat never raced as a 4 year old. So, do tell, as I’m keen to learn.

      • renee

        Don’t worry about getting a response on you’re querry. Mr. Kerr is numero uno in the anti-lasix campaign and he is clearly so misled in his failed beliefs that now he would imply that Secretariat was an inferior horse due to lasix, which btw did not become commonly used until later. Nevertheless, Sean won’t miss an opportunity to raise his anti-lasix flag, even at the expense of coming across as a total fool!

        • handgunnar

          Too bad. I really was interested in his opinion because this sort of “bench racing” is fun.

      • Maybe he’s thinking of Forego who matured into a really nice runner at 4. I disagree that Forego could beat him but I’ve seen others mention him as well. I love Secretariat and would give anything if we could have seen him run a few years. :

        • handgunnar

          Forego and Secretariat in the Woodward Stakes in ’74! I’ll bet that would have been a helluva race!

    • maryann26

      Secretariat faced older horses and won. He faced older horses in the Marlboro Cup, which was 1.5 miles and won.

  • MyBigRed

    In my Heart and Soul, Secretariat will ALWAYS be the Greatest Horse, Forever :) I was only 15 years old in 1973, & my Love for Secretariat has Never waned over the years. Even my family understands my affection for Big Red.
    Keep The BIG RED Flame Burning, Forever!!

    • Ida Lee

      As I’m sure you already know, Secretariat was the first real love of my life. To this day, I look at his photos (of which I have many) and his beauty brings tears to my eyes. I called him Big Red because in a way, it made me feel closer to him. I’m going to Claibourne Farm the last week in June to visit his resting place. I’m so grateful to Penny for keeping Secretariat’s legacy before the public in such a respectful and loving way.

      • MyBigRed

        Ida, I wish you could attend the Secretariat Festival this year on Sept 21 in Paris, Ky. It is so much fun to meet Penny, Ron & Charlie & hear their stories about Big Red ! I have visited Claiborne Farm several times & enjoy seeing where Secretariat spent his days in his stall & paddock. Seeing his final resting place brings me to tears. Don’t forget your tissues.
        My guest room is decorated with EVERYTHING Secretariat !!
        It is my tribute to the Greatest Horse that ever raced !!
        Enjoy your trip & take it easy, Pattie

  • nu-fan

    40-year-old records that are still holding is evidence to how great this horse was. And, being in the top 50 athletes for Sports Illustrated and ESPN confirms this. How were we so lucky that such as horse even existed?!

    • cindyloucarter

      40 year old records stand when we have horses like Mine That Bird, Street Sense, Orb, Lil E Tee, really?!!! We have only had 2 triple crown winners. Most horses after Secretariat can’t even get 2 out of the 3 Triple Crown races and those are rare. After Man O’ War came 8 Triple Crown winners who not only won 3 races in 5 weeks, but ran 4 races in 5 weeks, record breakers, horses that carried weight, ran 21 times and won ALL as just a 3 year old, what has come after Secretariat besides 2 Triple Crown winners and Spectacular Bid??? There are good horses but not REALLY great. Bid was a fantastic horse but not getting his due because of all the hype over Secretariat and one man with a lot of connections shoving this horse down our throats. If Penny wanted Secretariat to be so great and remembered, maybe instead of retiring him at 3 and still trying to promote him EVERYWHERE, maybe he could have raced at 4. Where is this farm now??? There were not great horses like what came after Man O’ War. That is why Man O’ War is still the greatest (in all polls). Write to them!

  • Zether Harris

    there was horse back in 1930’s that i think have gave him a run for the money but of course we would know that because of his untimely death and his name will live on in history with secetariat a horse from over sea his name was Pharlap. both great horse world wide thank you Ms. Chenery for letting us be in his greatness.

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