Secretariat Wins the Triple Crown 

U.S. #3189g – Secretariat was featured on the 1970s Celebrate the Century sheet.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes race, becoming the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years.

The son of the successful stallion Bold Ruler, Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970. He remained unnamed for a year, but was eventually named Secretariat by the stable’s secretary.

Secretariat began training in 1972. However, he was awkward and more interested in eating than running. Over time he grew more focused and fast and managed to finish fourth in his first race in July 1972. He then won five races in a row, including the Sanford Stakes and Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, and the Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park. During one of those races he passed eight horses in just a quarter mile and won by five lengths. At the end of his first year racing, Secretariat won the Eclipse Award for American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse and American Horse of the Year.

U.S. #1528 was issued for the 200th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby.

Secretariat then prepared for his most memorable season. He began 1973 with a win at the Bay Shore Stakes. Then on May 5, 1973, he competed in the Kentucky Derby. Although he broke last, he quickly caught up and eventually won the race by two-and-a-half lengths. Secretariat ran each quarter mile segment faster than the one before it and won the race in under two minutes – which had never been done before and wouldn’t be done again until 2001. As one sportswriter recalled, “No one had ever seen anything run like that… It was like he was some other animal out there.”

U.S. #2756-59 features different kinds of sporting horses.

Two weeks later Secretariat appeared at the Preakness Stakes on May 19. Once again, he started in last place. But in the first turn he managed to go from last to first and went on to win the race by two-and-a-half lengths again. His exact time has long been disputed, as the various timers all reported differing numbers. In 2012 the Maryland Racing Commission looked at old videotapes and listened to over two hours of testimony before settling on a time of 1:53, which was the state’s record.

U.S. #2155-58 features different horse breeds.

After these two victories, Secretariat prepared for the Belmont Stakes, the final victory needed to win the Triple Crown. In the coming weeks he was featured on the covers of three national magazines: Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. Secretariat quickly became a celebrity and household name.

U.S. #3577 – This Greetings from Kentucky stamp pays tribute to the popularity of the Kentucky Derby.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat and four other horses competed at the 105th Belmont Stakes in front of a crowd of 67,605. Secretariat was the favorite, though he was racing Sham, who’d finished second in each of the previous races. Secretariat and Sham began the race fast – ten lengths ahead of the other horses. But along the backstretch Sham could no longer maintain their break-neck pace and, exhausted, fell to last place. The announcer excitedly proclaimed, “Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine!” Secretariat continued to expand his lead on the other racers, eventually winning by 31 lengths (breaking the previous record of 25). He also ran the fastest race on dirt – one-and-a-half miles in 2:24 flat. This was two seconds faster than the previous record, and is still the record today, exactly 43 years later.

U.S. #3189g FDC – Secretariat First Day Cover

Many considered this race to be one of the best by a 20th century North American racehorse. Secretariat was the ninth Triple Crown winner and the first in 25 years. He continued to race for the rest of the year, winning the Arlington Invitational, Marlboro Cup, Man o’ War Stakes, and Canadian International. In all, Secretariat won 16 of his 21 career races, and finished second three times and third once. At the end of 1973 he was again named horse of the Year and won Eclipse Awards as the American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse and the American Champion Male Turf Horse.

Secretariat retired after 1973 and sired a number of other successful racehorses, about 600 in all. He died at age 19 on October 4, 1989.

Click here to watch video of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races.

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  1. I know American pharoah was great. I know Seattle Slew and Affirmed were great. I never got to see Citation or Man o War but in my lifetime Secretariat was the greatest. Especially that finish at the Belmont. Great article v

  2. Beautiful article on American horse racing supplemented with relevant stamps projecting

  3. Secretariat gave everyone a glimpse of his future greatness in his first race.
    It was a race for maidens (Horses that had never won a race) and at the
    start he was knocked sideways and almost knocked off his feet. He finally
    got started in a very short race and made up all that lost ground a finished
    4th only a couple of lengths behind the winner, The move in the Preakness
    was unprecedented because a horse in last place at Pimlico does not enter
    the first turn last and come out ahead of the field before the end of the turn
    because of the real tight turns at the track.

  4. What an incredible horse he was. The video where he wins the Triple Crown is exilirating…it gives me “goose bumps” every time I watch it.

  5. Our family was fortunate to see Secretariat in his retirement years. Not only did Secretariat like to eat, his groom apologized for his appearance as this champ liked to scratch on the farm’s fencing and streak his coat with tar. An individual to the end.

  6. Arbitrailiy speaking, Secretarian demands a place in history in regards to horse racing. With a multitude of awards, titles, and records secured during his career, his legacy demands respect in horseracing heritage.

  7. Secretariat, as a horse, was a true GOAT, Greatest Of All Time. There was an article in Sports Illustated regarding his necropsy pointing out his heart was one third larger than a normal heart.

  8. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame honor was conferred upon Secretariat in 1974. In the same year, Paul Mellon commissioned a bronze statue known as SECRETARIAT IN FULL STRIDE, the life sized statue was installed in Belmont Park till 1988. In 1988, the statue was replaced by replica.Two other life sized statues are in Kentucky Horse Park . Secretariat was the only NON HUMAN to appear in Greatest Sports Performers . On May 2, 2007 Secretariat was inducted into Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, the first-ever animal to receive this honor. From 2010, an annual award titled SECRETARIAT VOX POPULI AWARD is presented to the best horse. Several roadways are named in his honor. His birth place The Meadows is included in the National Register of Historic Places. A Disney live action film Secretariat was released on October 8, 2010. Secretariat suffered from laminitis, a painful, incurable hoof condition. So, he was euthanized on October 4, at age 19. He was given a rare honor :his whole body was buried !in Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Usually, only the head, heart and hooves are buried and rest of body is cremated. Secretariat`s total earnings were $ 1,316,808.

  9. I got to see Secretariat at his home in Claiborne farm. He was big and where ever there was a camera he turned his head and poised. I don’t believe any horse will break his records. I was glad that American Pharorh won last year.

  10. A great article about the greatest race-horse ever, in my opinion. I cannot imagine any other horse breaking his records … but Babe Ruth’s home rune records were topped … so we’ll see !! I really enjoyed and appreciate this reminder of Secretariat. He was indeed a GREAT race-horse !!

  11. Now that fifty years have passed since Secretariat’s Triple Crown, I feel it can be said with certainty that Secretariat was the greatest thoroughbred racehorse in history. The Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal DNA stars lined up in unison to create the Superman of thoroughbred racers. He was perfect in conformation which included his anatomically huge heart, he grew into the monster he was from his clownish beginnings and when the racing began, he grabbed the bit and exploded. His Belmont win was the moment we should all cherish as an example of equine superiority. What an amazing animal.

  12. Seeing Secretariat at Claiborne Farm and being close enough to touch him, was a dream come true. Walking along next to him was like walking with the most beautiful movie star you could ever imagine. He knew when people were paying attention to him and the strut was not forgotten. Oh he was definitely one of a kind and boy did he know it. Loved and adored to the last moment on he breathed. Carol Faver….

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