In 1973, Virginia-born Secretariat sailed across the finish line at the Kentucky Derby on his way to a record-breaking sweep of the Triple Crown. His times in the Derby, Preakness and Belmont still stand today.
Genetically speaking, Big Red is still running for the roses because the field of contenders for the May 7 Kentucky Derby is full of Secretariat descendants.
Of the top 20 Thoroughbreds vying for Derby glory, 13 have Secretariat in their pedigrees, according to Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park. They are: Nyquist, the undefeated favorite, Gun Runner, Brody’s Cause, Creator, Lani, Mor Spirit, Mohaymen, Destin, Suddenbreakingnews, Shagaf, Whitmore, My Man Sam and Trojan Nation.
“Yes, Secretariat is back a few generations in those pedigrees,” Ladin said. “But his prepotent grandsons, A.P. Indy and Storm Cat, are keeping his bloodlines well represented in the 21st century.”
Last year’s Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, came from the Storm Cat line. California Chrome, who won two-thirds of the Triple Crown in 2014 and recently captured the $10 million Dubai World Cup, came from the A.P. Indy line. The progeny of A.P. Indy and Storm Cat, such as top stallions Tapit, Bernardini and Giant’s Causeway, have sired many of the leading colts running in this year’s Derby.
“And we can’t forget the fillies,” Ladin said. She pointed out that the field for the Kentucky Oaks race, which is held on May 6 for 3-year-old fillies, is dominated by Secretariat descendants as well. Of the 20 top fillies on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, 16 have Secretariat in their pedigrees.
“Not only do Secretariat’s Triple Crown records still stand, but so does his influence on Thoroughbred racing,” Ladin said.
Ladin, author of Secretariat’s Meadow—The Land, The Family, The Legend, closely tracks descendants of the legendary champion and discusses them in her narrated tours of his birthplace at The Meadow Event Park. The Meadow Historic District there is listed on both the national and state historic registers.