In honor of the 141st Annual Kentucky Derby this Sunday, we are dedicating this post to one of our favorite heroes of all time: Secretariat. (You can find a Secretariat paper doll here.)

Secretariat is the greatest horse who ever lived. What an earnest and determined guy he was! Big Red, as he was sometimes known, was just about the fastest horse in the known universe (or wherever horses are!) and set records in 1973 that still stand today.

St. Secretariat by Amanda Wood

When Secretariat was born in 1970, just after midnight on March 30, nobody knew that little horse would be a household name.  He became so famous beyond the racetrack that he was on the covers of Time and Newsweek. Not bad for an equine athlete! He was given to Penny Chenery after birth as the result of a coin toss agreement between the stud owner and the owner of the gentle mother of Big Red. His name was chosen by the secretary of the stable.

Secretariat raced until he was 3 years old, per his contract. Most racehorses are itty bitty little children, runnin’ in their prime. He retired at age 3 with an acclaim that only 10 other horses can boast, winning the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States.

After his death in 1989, during a necropsy (a normal procedure for a deceased horse), the veterinarian described his heart as a “huge engine.” It was estimated to be 2 ¾ times the size of an average thoroughbred racehorse’s heart. He was put down humanely after being afflicted with an often incurable disease. Unlike most racehorses, whose head, hooves, and heart are buried together, Secretariat was buried whole, an honor befitting the Saint that he is.

Should I really describe the races to you? Of course not. You should watch them, below, with very dramatic music included.

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