Seeing Secretariat Pt. 2


Kelly Woodham and Secretariat during his retirement at Claiborne Farm

Secretariat is considered to be one of the greatest horses in horse racing history. During his 19 years of life, Secretariat touched the hearts of countless individuals. Some of these people were even lucky enough to see him in person! Read their stories here:

“A few years before Secretariat passed, I visited Kentucky for the very first time. I was raised in Georgia, but absolutely fell in love with horse racing in 1967. In 1973 I fell in love with the beautiful big red horse Secretariat! I watched in awe as he won the Belmont by 31 lengths! I put a poster of him on my teenage bedroom door. I finally made the trip to Kentucky and booked a tour at Claiborne Farm. I don’t know what I was expecting, but when the groom lead Secretariat out of his stall I just about passed out. I touched his neck and stood by him for a picture. Truly, one of the most favorite memories of my life. Thank you Claiborne Farm. I have been back several times over the following years.” - Kelly Woodham “I was lucky enough to be working as a groom at Arlington Park when Secretariat came to run there 3 weeks after the Belmont. Usually I was very shy, but I had the courage to tell my boss that he could fire me if he wanted to, but I would be going to see Secretariat every chance I could. And I did ( he didn’t fire me). I saw him unload, train in the morning, got to talk to Eddie Sweat and Charlie Davis, and the day of the race I went and sat at the finish line at 9 in the morning after finishing my grooming job. The race wasn’t till about 5:30. So worth it. And then I was there when he loaded up to leave with Penny Tweedy watching. One of the best weeks of my life. He was so awe inspiring. The only cool one when everyone was going crazy around him, like he knew it was all for him.” - Karen Castillo


“I was lucky enough to see him win the Belmont and at the age of 15. I went to Belmont alone. Admission was $2. It was a sight I’ll never forget and to this day I still see him coming down the stretch... alone! I also met him twice at Claiborne Farm in ‘84 and ‘85. Magnificent is an understatement... intelligent beyond words he posed for my camera. He knew he was king and always will be.” - Donna Wakefield


“I was blessed to see Big Red win the '73 Belmont Stakes in person!! Such an Immortal Run, one memory that has stayed with me all these years! All I have to do is close my eyes and I can see it just like it was that day! It was so ironic that we lived there during this magical time in Secretariat's racing career!!” - Mary Ann Rathfon

If you saw Secretariat in person, comment your experience on this blog post or in the thread of this article on Facebook to be featured in the next edition of "Seeing Secretariat".



Author - Kaeli Bartholomew: I run Champions of the Track as a way to spread the love of horse racing through writing, photography, and videography. The best way to increase the popularity and respect for this sport is by sharing stories and memories! Thank you for joining me on my mission to save and grow the sport of horse racing.




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