I was fortunate to attend a writer’s conference this past November with Inspired by Life… and Fiction’s own Tamera Alexander. While Tammy and I were talking about our upcoming releases (To Win Her Favor and A Love Like Ours) we realized that both books were scheduled to release at the same time and that both books feature Thoroughbred racehorses. Not just Thoroughbred racehorses, but horses whose lineage is tied to Secretariat! How cool is that?!
My modern day love story stars Silver Leaf, a horse descended from Secretariat. Tammy’s historical love story stars Bonnie Scotland, an ancestor of Secretariat. To celebrate this connection we’re currently running a horse-themed giveaway! Details on that at the end of the post….
Until then, a bit more about Secretariat who is widely considered to be one of the greatest if not the greatest American racehorse of all time.
He was born in 1970. His sire was Bold Ruler, a Hall of Fame horse in his own right.
A woman named Penny Chenery sent two of her mares to Bold Ruler and two foals (a colt and a filly) were the result. Penny and Bold Ruler’s owner agreed that they’d each keep one foal. They flipped a coin to determine which of them would receive first pick. Penny lost the coin toss which meant that Bold Ruler’s owner was given first choice.
He selected the filly. Thus, Penny received the chestnut colored colt with the white blaze and three white feet. Because of his coloring, the colt was given the nickname ‘Big Red’. At a year old he still didn’t have an official name. The secretary at Penny’s stable had submitted five potential names to the Jockey Club but they’d all been turned down. Her sixth submission was finally accepted.
The chestnut colt was named Secretariat.
When full grown he stood at 16’2 hands. Many fast stallions are extremely temperamental. Not Secretariat. His jockey, Ron Turcotte, said of him, “He was a pleasure to be around, from the first day I got on him to the last day I rode him. He was something else. And he never had a mean hair on him, never spooked from anything with me.”
In his very first race Secretariat finished fourth. But then he rebounded with a vengeance and reeled off five wins in a row.
In his three year old season, 1973, he won the Triple Crown.
In the last one hundred years only twelve horses have accomplished that feat. [Sir Barton, 1919. Gallant Fox, 1930. Omaha, 1935. War Admiral, 1937. Whirlaway, 1941. Count Fleet, 1943. Assault, 1946. Citation, 1948. Secretariat, 1973. Seattle Slew, 1977. Affirmed, 1978. American Pharoah, 2015] The most recent, American Pharoah, has Secretariat in his pedigree.
At this site you can watch side-by-side videos of Secretariat’s Triple Crown run and American Pharoah’s Triple Crown run. Very cool!
Not only did Secretariat win all three of the requisite races to achieve the Triple Crown, but to this day he still holds the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes runs. He also holds the record for winning the Belmont by the greatest margin. 31 lengths!
“… when he accelerates … he produces a breathtaking explosion that leaves novices and hardened horsemen alike convinced that, for one of those moments that seldom occur in any sport, they have witnessed genuine greatness.” – Pete Axthelm, Newsweek.
Secretariat lost five races in his career. But after every loss he returned to the track to clinch first and set track records. Those that understand horse racing better than I theorize that Secretariat’s stunning success was due in part to two factors. 1) He had a tremendously big stride. He could stretch his fore legs and hind legs out at a very wide angle. 2) After his death in 1989 veterinarians discovered that his heart was more than two times the normal size for his breed.
His literal heart was big. But so was his figurative heart. Secretariat had the will to win.
For me, it’s a treat to see Secretariat ‘race into fiction’ through my novel and Tammy’s. If you’ve met Bonnie in Tammy’s book then it might be fun to meet Silver Leaf in mine. And if you’ve met Silver, then you’ll want to meet Bonnie!
On my facebook page, I’m giving away two copies of To Win Her Favor and two copies of the DVD movie Secretariat to two winners! Each winner will receive both the book and the movie. If you’d like to enter, simply visit to my facebook page and leave a comment on my post. It’s as easy as that! Then be sure to head to Tammy’s facebook page to leave a comment on her post to enter to win copies of A Love Like Ours. The giveaways will run through Sunday at midnight!