1973. 5 May… 19 May… 9 June.
I can tell you exactly where I was on the afternoons of those dates. Sitting on the floor in front of our console TV with my Dad sitting on the couch behind me. Bouncing and excited, probably chattering like a monkey.
Back in those days Sports Illustrated magazine had fantastic coverage of horse racing and I would read every article on it. My 10 year old self could spout details of races and breeding as easily as ‘Jimmy the Greek’.
That year was a tough one for me. My loyalty was divided.
Running in the Triple Crown races was a very nice colt named after a horse from one of my favorite books: “King of the Wind”. In the story “Sham” was the call name of the Godolphin Arabian – one of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred breed.
Then there was Big Red. Secretariat. What wasn’t to love about him? Probably the most perfectly built Thoroughbred to ever hit the track. He was The Rock Star of the year.
Thirty seven years later Disney pictures tells it again in their movie “Secretariat”. And Dad and I went to see it and relive memories.
The movie is good, fun to watch. The cast was wonderful. John Malcovich steals the show as trainer Lucien Laurin (who BTW was not as flamboyant as portrayed… some in the racing industry are joking that maybe Disney was thinking of Bob Baffert instead!). Diane Lane is lovely as owner Penny Chenery Tweedy. And the real Penny Chenery makes a cameo appearance as a race fan sitting near Diane Lane’s Penny in the stands during the Belmont.
But die-hard Secretariat and racing fans will recognize it has a lot of fantasy thrown in. So don’t expect historical accuracy. As a writer once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.
If you are a horse lover or racing fan… see the movie and enjoy it. Then after seeing it, go to YouTube and view the real Triple Crown races of Secretariat.
Because he was BETTER than the movie!
(Secretariat running in the Belmont Stakes with his incredible 31 length win).