Sometimes it is just the will and the heart that makes a champion.
If you were raised around horses, you probably know that they are not as dumb as the some people say they are. Phycologist will tell you that humans tend to anthropomorphize animals. Whoever coined that word needs to get out more often.
A horse is a magnificent animal that can be trained to do a variety of things well not the least of which is racing. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a horse at full speed heading for the finish line.
One such horse was my all-time favorite. Long before they made a movie about him, Secretariat was my inspiration. In 1973, he won the Triple Crown, which is a major accomplishment in horseracing, but more than that, he did it in a most domineering way. The history is there for any to see or research so I will not go into the many details except to say that this horse was a champion from its birth in 1970 to its death in 1989.
Here is where the clinical terms miss the point. In the last race of the Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, he was the odds on favorite to win. Only four other horse owners even bothered to enter the race. The Belmont is a mile and a half race and it is said to be the true test of a horse.
Secretariat won the race. However, the race was not as close as some had predicted. He won by 31 lengths. When it was clear that he had the race won, the jockey Ron Turcotte could have eased up and let him coast I for the win. But as Turcotte said almost forty years later "So he was going so easy and I said, Well I'm not going to fight you, fella, let's take it from here."
Down the stretch Turcotte turned to look at his lead and was amazed at how far out front he and Secretariat were. That is when the heart of a champion shone through.
A very lucky photographer caught the picture, which framed perhaps the greatest horse ever to run a race. I clipped the picture from one of the news accounts and put it up in my office as a reminder that it is not just about winning but more about putting everything you have into a project.
When the movie came out in 2010 I was reminded how great a horse was Big Red. The movie was good but it did not capture the emotion that I felt on that June Day in 1973 watching him run.
You may want to research the trailer for the movie for some of the background of the story but I will leave you with this tribute to Big Red by John Stewart in 1975.
Let the Big Horse Run