Our Secretariat’s Meadow Facebook fans continue to send in their favorite memories of Big Red. This excerpt from Kevin Madigan certainly captures the spirit of the times in 1973:
“My wife (then girlfriend) was scheduled to attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Maryland on the day of the Preakness in 1973. Rather than suffer through those exercises, we elected to go to the Preakness instead. It was a very good choice! We were on the infield and just before the race began, all the spectators climbed over the inner fence at the track and went right to the rail. The horses paraded right in front of us as they warmed up …. I still can’t get over the size of Secretariat, or how small his competition seemed. We were in the final turn and I remember leaning over the rail, waiting for the horses to appear. We couldn’t tell who was in the lead but we knew instantly when a huge head wearing a blue and white checkerboard flashed into view. We only saw him for a second as he flashed by, but what a second it was. I could have reached out and touched him as he went by and dirt showered down on us for what seemed like a minute after he passed.
I loved the movie that was recently released, but was disappointed that it failed to portray how the entire country was captivated by that year’s Triple Crown and Secretariat. Things just about came to a halt across the country during the Belmont Stakes. I was at a wedding with maybe 100 people in attendance. Everyone stopped what they were doing when the race came on and left the ballroom we were in to watch it on television. The electricity in the air when Secretariat pulled away to win by 31 lengths … no one in attendance will ever forget that number … was palpable. Everyone was absolutely stunned by the magnitude of his performance that day. “
It’s been almost 41 years since he was born on March 30, 1970 at The Meadow in Virginia and Secretariat still elicits powerful emotions in those who remember him. We will be celebrating his birthday soon at The Meadow on March 27 . Keep sending your favorite stories and we’ll keep posting them in his honor.
The legend lives on!
Leeanne Meadows Ladin