Friday, March 29, 2013

Secretariat's Final Race: the Canadian International

  Secretariat arrived at Toronto on October 8th, 1973, for his final race. He was greeted with journalists, photographers, and thousands of fans from all over the world. Millions of people had seen the great sport hero on television, and they had finally got the chance to see him in person.

 It was a really big day for everyone.  After making his last public appearance, Secretariat would leave the racetrack forever and be used for breeding purposes. All of his fans wanted to get the chance to see him run just one last time. they expected a great show, and a great show they would get.

 At last, after being filmed by dozens of photographers, including a television crew that was filming a documentary on his final race, Secretariat was ready to begin his race. He seemed to know how important it was to everybody.

 Also racing would be Kennedy Road, a U.S. turf champion ridden by Avelino Gomez. Gomez says, "Secretariat shows up in Toronto, and it is a very big thing for Canada. Even if he gets beat by me!" Of course, he was going to use the same strategy as the other horses that had beaten Secretariat: He would get an early lead and try to hold it until the end. Yet it didn't quite work out the way he had hoped. With  Secretariat, though, that was only to be expected.

 What did happen was this: Kennedy Road took the lead right out of the gate, as planned, but Secretariat followed behind him. Secretariat ran along side Kennedy Road through the backstretch, then passed him and lead until he reached the finish line. He won by 6 1/2 lengths.

 That was it. He had run his final race. No longer would thousands of people flock to the racetracks to watch this incredible horse run, or turn on their TVs to see him race. Big Red had retired as breeding stallion, to be used to create line of champions, many of which still race today. His owner, Penny Chenery, told the public about her horse on the day he had ended his career.

 “Secretariat loves to run, and this should be communicated to the world. This is a vital sport, an exciting sport. It’s not exploitation of horses. There are horses like Secretariat, who are sound and able, and think running is thrilling. He knows when he wins. He knows when people notice him. It’s been a great experience for him, too.”

 Secretariat will forever be remembered as an extraordinary horse. He holds two world records, three track records, and one tied track record, more than any other horse, excluding Man o' War. All of Secretariat's records still stand today, yet to beaten by another great horse. I doubt they will.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Secretariat: the Man o' War Stakes

On October 8 of the racing season if 1973,  Secretariat returned to Belmont Park for his second-to-last race. He had yet another chance to prove himself after losing to an unlikely opponent(see Woodward Stakes). Then he would become a stud horse to produce a line of champions.

 The Man o' War Stakes, named for a famous racehorse from before Secretariat's time, was far different than any other race he had run before. Instead of being on dirt, it was turf, like the European tracks.  Secretariat had proven himself in races ranging from 3/4 of a mile to 1 1/2 miles. This grassy, 1 1/2 mile track would only be another test of Secretariat's skill.

 In spite of that, Secretariat did just as well in this race as in many of the others he had run. He easily took the the lead, running on the grass that lined the inside of the Belmont track. It was an easy race for him. His jockey, Ron Turcotte, said that Secretariat was an even better turf horse than a dirt horse.

 After that race, he had just one more to go: the Canadian International. He was going to leave the racetrack forever, but was going to go out in style. His fans, as well as his owner and jockey, were certain of that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Secretariat: Woodward Stakes

On September 29, just a few weeks after his incredible win in the Marlboro Cup, Secretariat returned to  Belmont Park to race in the Woodward Stakes. The race was 1 1/2 miles. "It shouldn't be hard after defeating the nation's top horses in the Marlboro Cup," his avid fans thought. However, despite someone's expectations on a horse"s performance, the racing world is full of surprises and unexpected twists. Nothing is ever certain.

  At the start of the race, Jorge Velasquez urged his mount to take an early lead, which is exactly what Onion had done before defeating Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes. Prove Out(Velasquez's mount) ran along the rail the while race. He remained unhurried, even after Secretariat had passed him. Suddenly, halfway through the homestretch, he shot ahead, passing Secretariat and winning by 4 1/2 lengths!

 Second place was just not good enough for many of Secretariat's fans. Even though the second place prize was $100,000 dollars, the loss hit them hard. Once again, the great Secretariat had lost to a horse with very bad odds of winning.

 Meanwhile, Allen Jerkens, the trainer of both Onion and Prove Out, had gained quite a reputation. Two different horses that he had trained had vanquished Secretariat on two different tracks! No wonder he had been given the nickname the "Giant Killer", which he still holds.

 Secretariat had been beaten twice in that past month, but he would return. Then he would win once more.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Aromatherapy for Horses: Peace & Calming Essential Oil Blend

 Have you ever seen or ridden a very jittery horse that spooked at everything it saw? Maybe you have been trying to introduce your horse to a new environment or train it for something it has never done before. If you have ever been around horses, you know how hard this can be and probably ask yourself  if there is something you can do to ease this stress.

  The answer to that question is yes, something can be done.  You can use essential oils.
Click here to learn more
 Essential oils are potent, concentrated oils made of plants, such as flowers or herbs. These may include lavender, calendula, chamomile, basil, oregano, and many others. The oils are far more potent than just plain herbs or flowers. As plants dry, they lose potency, but if they are distilled when fresh, the resulting oil is as potent as the day the plant was picked.

 For example, it takes about 28 cups of peppermint tea to equal the healing powers of one drop of peppermint oil. Also, it takes 5,000 pounds if rose petals to produce one pint of rose oil and 2-3 tons of melissa plant to make a pound of oil. As you can see, there is a lot of nutrients per drop.

 Not only do they improve health, but the also lighten mood and relieve stress. Studies have shown that the fragrances create strong effects on both the limbic (this controls the emotions) and the hypothalamus(controls hormones) systems.

  Now let's return to the original question. How can you make a jittery horse relax? Horses, too, can benefit from the oils I previously mentioned. A brilliant blend to use for this is Peace & Calming(an oil blend from Young Living), as the name suggests.

 Anytime something stresses your horse out, try letting it inhale the oil. You can even diffuse it in the horse trailer using Young Living's portable essential oil diffuser whenever you bring your horse to shows, competitions, or anywhere else.

 Horses can only learn when they are calm and actually focused on learning, not running. Because of this, Peace & Calming can also be used before your horses's training sessions to make sure he or she gets the most out the it.

 As you can see, Peace & Calming can be used anytime your horse is either stressed because exposure to something new, or frightened. Don't forgot, though, that essential oils work just as well for humans as it does for horses. You can use it to relieve your own stress and anxiety. Remember that if ever feel stressed about a

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils or want to buy some for yourself, hop over  Jo's Health Corner

Monday, March 25, 2013

Secretariat: Marlboro Cup

In the early '70s sponsorship in sports was very uncommon. Companies were still advertised in sport events, but many teams did not have an official sponsor. Then Jack Landry, a horse racing fan, saw the money in sponsoring the racing legend Secretariat and decided to hold a race on September 15. Secretariat and Riva Ridge were to run in this race. It was to be called the Marlboro Cup.

 Just about a month before, Secretariat had been defeated by little-known horse by the name Onion, and a horse from his stabled named Riva Ridge, another Kentucky Derby winner, had likewise been beaten by the unknown Wichita Oil. It was no wonder that the press dismissed the idea and suggested that Onion and Wichita Oil race instead.

 Another problem also prevented this race from taking place. At Belmont Park, New York, rules prohibited pari-muteul betting(a form of betting in which all bets of a particular type are put together in a pool, which is divided among all winning betters) when the horses racing are from the same stable.

  However, fans were not discouraged, and the New York Racing Association had an even better idea that sparked the interest of many people. Instead of having only Riva Ridge and Secretariat race, all the top horses would race. This include Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Kennedy Road, America's top turf racing horse; Cougar II, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap; Onion, who had defeated Secretariat against all odds; Annihilate ''Em, and Key to the Mint, Riva Ridge's rival from Rokeby Stable. They made quite a field.

 Right out of the gate, Onion took the lead. Riva Ridge followed close behind him, and Secretariat settled for fifth place, where he waited to strike.

 Then, somewhere near the far turn, Riva Ridge made his move, followed by Secretariat. After that, the race was just between Riva Ridge and Secretariat. Secretariat moved ahead, winning by 3 1/2 and beating the world record time for 1 1/8 miles on dirt with his own time of 1:45 2/5 seconds.

 The last time the record had been broken was in 1972 when the Kentucky Derby winner of  1971, Canonero, defeated the 1972 winner, Riva Ridge. His time had been 1:46 1/5.

 It seems as if Secretariat was not only destined to win almost every race he entered, but also to shatter the track record, or even the world record for that distance.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Secretariat: the Whitney Stakes

After his easy victory in the Arlington Invitational, Secretariat went to Saratoga Springs, New York. It had only been a year since he had last been there as a rookie two-year-old horse. At that time, which was August of 1973, he had returned as the champion that had shattered the records in all three of the Triple Crown races. So a large crowd of his fans flocked to see him win yet again. Yet it didn't turn out the way they had expected.

  The Saratoga racecourse, nicknamed the Graveyard of Champions, has a really interesting history. Throughout all the many years since it has first been used, many famous racehorses have met their match on that track. Even so, the outcome of the Whitney Stakes of '73 came as a surprise to many racing fans.

 One of the lesser known horses that had raced against Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes was Onion, who had set a new track record a few days previously. Onion posed a problem for Secretariat.

 The horse called Onion took a early lead in the Whitney. Secretariat sped forwards and both horses battled neck-to-neck for first place until they reached the last sixteenth of a mile. Then, against all expectations,  Secretariat slowed down and Onion crossed the finish line in first place.

 The audience was stunned. The great Secretariat, after winning the prestigious Triple Crown, had lost to little-known amateur. How could something like that happen to a record-breaking horse?

 Coincidentally, Secretariat was not the only champion racehorse that had lost to an amateur that week. Another Kentucky Derby winner from his stable, Riva Ridge, had recently lost to Wichita Oil, so the public wanted both amateur horses to be raced against each other. The public had to know which amateur was better.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Aromatherapy for Horses: Lavender Essential Oil

 Throughout the centuries, humans have used flower remedies, called essential oils, to heal or to strengthen the immune system. In fact, some doctors even use them today. But did you know that lavender can be used to calm horses?

This photograph comes from the McNeese State University website(see bottom of post).
 Recently, the McNeese State University has performed a study on the affects of lavender on horses. Horses are timid by nature. When their acute ears hear something unusual, or if they notice something strange, their instinct tells them to run.

 In humans, therapeutic oils such as lavender can reduce both stress and anxiety. So Dr. Ferguson, an animal scientist from MSU, decided to test this method of calming on horses. He states that environmental stimuli can cause chronic stress in many animals, horses included.

 After taking their resting heart rate, Ferguson exposed two groups of horse to humidified air, which caused stress. Then one group was allowed to sniff lavender from an essential oil air diffuser. One minute later, both group's heart rate were measured, and the students working on the project discovered that the horses exposed to lavender had a slower heart rate than that of the control group.

 "...There was a significant decrease in the change of heart rate from the stressed heart rate to the recovery heart rate in lavender-treated horses compared to the other group," explains Dr. Ferguson.

 Dr. Ferguson recommends the use of lavender in horses during post-competion examinations or any other time that your horse may  be stressed. He also says that aromatherapy is beneficial to the equine industry.

 This study has proven that lavender really can relieve stress in your horse just like it can relieve your own stress.

For more information on essential oils, visit:
McNeese State University: MSU study on aromatherapy for horses published

Secretariat: Arlington Invitational

Secretariat's road to victory did not end with Belmont.  On June 30, he moved on to the Arlington Invitational, held in the suburbs northeast of Chicago. Only three horses were raced against him for the prize of $125,000: My Gallant, Our Native(both raced against him in the Triple Crown) and Blue Chip Dan. Though the field was small, 41,223 fans flocked to see Secretariat run.

 Anyone you ask will say that the Arlington Invitational was an easy win for Secretariat. Right out of the gate, he maneuvered around his three opponents and took the lead before he was even around the first turn. Then he ran quickly down the backstretch. After the final bend, with only an eighth of a mile remaining, there was no chance that any of the horses could beat him.

 Secretariat won by nine lengths with a time of 1:47, 1/5 of a second slower than the track record, held by Damascus.

 The betting format of this race was far different than that of other races. Instead of being able to bet on any one horse, a person could either bet on Secretariat or the other three horses as a whole. Of course, everyone bet on Secretariat, who was at that time a legend because of his famous Triple Crown win.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Secretariat: Belmont Stakes

Three weeks after his win in Baltimore, Secretariat went to Elmont, New York, where he would run one of his most famous races. Every racing fan was eagerly awaiting the final Triple Crown race, hoping that the great Secretariat would win it and the Triple Crown.

Once again, Secretariat attempted to take an early lead. This time, however, Sham was ready, and both horses were vying for first place. They stayed neck-to-neck throughout the first half of the race. They even ran fast quarter-mile times: 23 3/5 for the first one, 46 1/5 for the second, and 1:09 4/5 for the third.

 Then, at the last turn(turns at Belmont are extremely long) Sham could not keep pace with Secretariat any longer, so he slowed down. Sham's defeat energized Secretariat, who ran even faster as he neared the finish line. His jockey, Turcotte, wanting to show the world Secretariat's abilities, let Secretariat run at his own pace, which was fast. Nothing could stop the Big Red Horse.

 By the time he was halfway through the homestretch, Secretariat had a lead of 28 lengths. His lead continued to lengthen until he passed the finish line in world record time: 2 minutes and twenty-four seconds, with an amazing lead of thirty-one lengths!

 This extraordinary horse has not only won the Triple Crown, a difficult accomplishment in itself, but also broke the records of all three races, something never before heard of.

 The world has not seen a more extraordinary horse since Secretariat. Neither has a horse been more loved by the public. His records still stand today, yet to be defeated by another great horse. Perhaps it will remain that way.

Don't miss the posts on the Triple Crown.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Secretariat: the Preakness Stakes

I also painted Secretariat in the winner's circle in Baltimore.
Two weeks after his impressive win at Churchill Downs, Secretariat advanced to the the Preakness Stakes,  the second Triple Crown race which is held in Baltimore, Maryland. Many people expected another Kentucky Derby where he would beat the track record.

 Secretariat, as was to be expected, began the race at the back of the field of six. Each of the horses were being directed by their jockeys to go slow to preserve energy for the 1 3/16 mile long race ahead of them. However, Ron Turcotte, Secretariat's jockey, had different plans.

 Instead of lingering at the back of the pack as usual, he urged Secretariat to make the risky maneuver of taking an early lead and attempting to hold first place until the end of the race. At the first turn, Secretariat was 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the second-place horse, Sham.  The other riders remained ready to burst ahead should Secretariat falter. Secretariat did not falter, and he ended up holding first place from start to finish. He beat Sham by 2 1/2 lengths.

 Even though Secretariat had won the race, a great controversy arose afterwards. The large digital clock showed his time to be 1:55--one second slower than that of Canonero, who at the time held the track record. In contrast, the track's clocker's watch stated that his time was 1:54 2/5, and two men from the Daily Racing Form showed that his time was 1:53 2/5.

 The following day, TV stations such as CBS showed reruns of both Canonero's and Secretariat's races. They allowed fans themselves to time the video clips and thus draw their own conclusion. Several days later, after much controversy, an official statement was made: Secretariat's time was 1:54 2/5.(Daily Racing Form still noted their timing of 1;53 2/5)

  Yet his most avid fans were not too concerned about his time. It had been twenty-five years since a horse had last one all of the races in the Triple Crown, and they all knew that if any horse could do it, Secretariat sure could.

Don't miss the other posts on the Triple Crown.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Secretariat: the Kentucky Derby

I painted Secretariat running in the Kentucky Derby.
When Secretariat was finally three years old in 1973,  it was decided that he would participate in the Kentucky Derby, which is a part of the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is a prestigious three race event specifically made for three-year-olds. It includes the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

 The first race in the Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby, a one and a quarter mile race held at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. It was in this race that Secretariat first made world history and shattered one of the many world records he would break.

  At the beginning the race, Secretariat, as usual, was in last place. He then gradually passed many of the other horses. However, on the backstretch, a horse known as Sham(he and Secretariat were a favorite among fans) still held the lead, and many believed that he would win the Derby. Suddenly, Secretariat burst forward and passed Sham. He went on to win the race by 2 1/2 lengths with a time of 1 minute 59 seconds, a new track record.

 His record still stands today, and he is remembered as a legend among horse enthusiasts.  I believe that he is the most greatest horse that ever lived. I am sure that many of you agree with me.

Don't miss the other posts on the Triple Crown.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Secretariat: His Two-year-old Season

This is a painting I made of young Secretariat.
When Secretariat first appeared on the racetrack in 1972, he became a champion almost instantly. He was everyones favorite, and had a unique style of racing never before seen.

 Unlike most of the other famous two-year-old race horses, such as Man o' War,  Secretariat did not take the lead right at the beginning of the race and hold it all the way until the end. Instead, he was normally in last place until he was about four furlongs(one furlong is 220 yards) from the finish. Only then would he have one final burst of energy and come in first place.

 Of the nine races he ran in that season, Secretariat only lost two-- his first race, which was at the Aqueduct Racetrack(he had had a slow start) and another race called Champagne. In between those two races, however he had won five races, including three important two-year-old ones: the Sanford Stakes, the Hopeful Stakes, and the Futurity Stakes.

Next he lost the Champagne Stakes. He was doing good until he bumped into a horse known as Stop the Music near the end of the race. Though this did not slow him down too much, and he had ended up beating the horse he had hit by two lengths, he was later disqualified for interfering with it. Afterwards, Stop the Music was given the position of first place.

 Despite these two loses, Secretariat was a favorite among fans, and even won the horse of the year award, one of three two-year-olds to do so.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Secretariat: the Story of His Birth

Secretariat as a young colt.
Everyone who knows about horses knows Secretariat, the racing legend from the 1970s and '80s. They know how great a racehorse he was. What very few know about are the years before his fame and fortune and the interesting history of how his owners got him.

 It all began in 1968 when Penny Chenery, from Meadow Stud,and Ogden Phipps, from Wheatley Stables, made an unofficial business agreement. Phipps was the owner of Bold Ruler, a retired successful stallion who had won several important races. No stud fees were paid. Instead, they decided that several of Chenerey's mares would be bred with Bold Ruler. A toss of a coin would determine who got first choice on the offspring.

 So Chenery sent her best mares--Hasty Matelda and Somethingroyal to be bred with Phipps's stallion. The result was a colt and filly. Then Somethingroyal was bred with Bold Ruler one more time, because the original agreement had stated that the winner got only one foal while the loser got two.

 Late in the year of 1969, Phipps and Chenery held the long awaited coin toss in the chairman's office of the New York Racing Association. Phipps won and took the filly, leaving Chenery with both the colt and the unborn foal.

 Many months later, on March 30, 1970, a bright red colt with three white stockings and a narrow blaze was conceived by Somethingroyal. Elizabeth Ham, the secretary of Meadow Studs, named the colt Secretariat.

 And thus the racing legend who had shattered over a dozen track and world records was born.

The picture of young Secretariat is courtesy of:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Shire and Clydesdale: a Comparison

Imagine that you see two horses--a Shire and a Clydesdale. At first, if you know little about horses, you may say that they are the same horse. Though they are certainly quite similar physically, their historically backward has several differences.

Historical Background
  First, the Clydesdale comes from Scotland, not England. The breed was first introduced in the early 19th century after many years of selectively breeding local mares to Flemish stallions. By the late 19th century, Clydesdales had become extremely popular.  Both Scotland and North America had there own breeding association for the horse. After World War I, the number of Clydesdales dramatically declined due to the fact that most farmers had stopped using horse drawn plows. It wasn't until 1975 that they were considered on the brink of extinction and people began to breed them in order to save the species. Thirty years late the number of Clydesdale was greatly increased, and today there is estimated to be about 5,000 worldwide.

 Shires, which originate from England, have a different story. They are believed to be descendants of the Old English Black Horse, which was used in the 17th century. Later on, Friesians, as well as Dutch horses, were bred with the English horse and by the mid-17th century, the Shire was first mentioned. It wasn't until the late 1800s that the breed was officially formed. In the early 1900s, the Shire became popular in the U.S. Then, during World War II, draft horses began to disappear because of purchase of livestock feed was strict. Finally, in the '70s, the horse became popular once more in both America and England.

  In appearance, the horses are almost the same,  which is probably because of Clydesdale influence in the Shire. Both are big-boned and average  17 hands or more(a hand is four inches). Also, they  commonly have white markings on the legs and face with "feathers" around the ankles.

Uses Today
Today, both horses are commonly used for similar activities. Clydesdales often make great riding and sport horses and are often seen pulling carts or even doing agricultural work.  Shires, too, are used in sports such as cross country and obstacle driving, or just for everyday riding.