When Virginia-born Secretariat began his racing career, some experts doubted he could “go the distance” and win the longer races. His sire, Bold Ruler, was known as a speed horse, which fueled that skepticism.
Of course Secretariat swept those doubts into dust when he captured the Triple Crown in 1973, smashing the track records in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
As the 2014 fields for those classic races begin to shape up, Secretariat continues to makes his presence felt. A great-great-great grandson, California Chrome, is the current favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 3. He won the Santa Anita Derby and is undefeated as a 3-year-old. Other Secretariat descendants likely to “run for the roses” include Wicked Strong, winner of the Wood Memorial; Wildcat Red, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes; and Hoppertunity, who placed second in the Santa Anita Derby.
On the filly side, Untapable, a great-great-great granddaughter, is the favorite for the May 2 Kentucky Oaks. She won the prestigious Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans and is undefeated in her last three races. Her sire, Secretariat great-great grandson Tapit, is the top-ranking Thoroughbred sire in the country.
Keeping track of Secretariat descendants and their achievements is Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. She noted that Secretariat’s son Risen Star won the Preakness and Belmont in 1988, along with $2 million in purses. His daughter Lady’s Secret won 19 stakes races and more than $3 million to become 1986 Horse of the Year.
“Secretariat distinguished himself as a great broodmare sire, largely through his outstanding daughters Weekend Surprise, Terlingua and Secrettame. Several of their sons, Secretariat’s grandsons, became some of racing’s most influential champions,” Ladin said.
Weekend Surprise was the dam, or mother, of A.P Indy, winner of the 1992 Belmont and the $3 million Breeder’s Cup Classic, and Horse of the Year. Some of his best-known offspring include Pulpit, Bernardini, Rags to Riches and the aforementioned Tapit.
Terlingua produced Storm Cat in 1983; his stud fee at its peak was $500,000. He sired more than 160 stakes winners, including Tabasco Cat, who won the 1994 Preakness and Belmont.
Secrettame was the dam of Gone West, who sired 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.
“These bloodlines continue to be some of the most successful in racing today,” Ladin said.