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Seeing Secretariat

Photo provided by Suzanne Hake Knadig of Secretariat and her son.

Secretariat was a horse with an emotional impact on countless individuals. His celebrity status was human-like during 1973 and for many years thereafter. He was respected as one of the greatest athletes of all time, horse and human alike.

Many people remember the enchantment they felt watching his races. But, those who saw “Big Red” in the flesh were, most of the time, sent into a sort of shock. He was a large and impressive individual with a gleaming chestnut coat and rippling muscles. His presence could not be missed.

Ask any individual who saw him in person to recount their experience, and they will always happy oblige. Seeing Secretariat was a dream come true. “I saw Secretariat in person at Claiborne Farm in 1988,” said Suzanne Hake Knadig. “My husband, son and I were the only visitors at that particular time of day. What a thrill it was when Secretariat's groom brought him out of his stall for us! I was allowed to pet him all over. Secretariat loved the attention and seemed to know we were taking pictures of him as he stood still the entire time. This was an experience I'll never forget!”

“I live in Illinois and made 3 trips to Lexington to see him at Claiborne,” said Mary Jo Gillmore. “His groom was phenomenal. He was always in the paddock and I was allowed to pet him and take all the pics I wanted. It would never happen this day and age.”

“I was in the infield at Saratoga the day Onion beat him,” said Marc Woltag. “When he flashed by me he was last.”

“The fall of 1979 at Claiborne obviously,” Barbara Siebert recounted. “It felt like a true honor and he took my breath away.” “June 1973 Arlington park. The Arlington invitational. I was eleven. Completely awestruck,” Dinah Moors described. “He just ran away with it. I will forever remember my mom screaming 'run baby run' as he flew by. We were in the grass at the top of the stretch. Watching him in the paddock was surreal all the people pressing in trying to get closer to him. There will never be another…”

“He was an awesome individual, massive structure but the personality of a child,” said Mike Burleson. “Only stallion there that they sometimes let a kid pat and rub his face. More awesome, though, to get to know and visit with Penny Tweedy, even had dinner with her once! What a dedicated ambassador for the sport she loved and lived for.”

It is widely believed that there will never be another horse like Secretariat. This notion makes these memories even more precious.


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