Horsing Around by the Gene Pool

1973 was an interesting year. When the year started, the number one song on the Billboard Charts was Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” …


The L(ong)-P(laying) Record album cover

And I remember graduating from high school between the Preakness and the Belmont, where, on June 9th, 40 years ago, Secretariat became the Triple Crown winner by 31 lengths — still a record.


Wikipedia, him say:

In the stretch, Secretariat opened a 1/16 mile lead on the rest of the field. At the finish, he won by 31 lengths (breaking the margin-of-victory record set by Triple Crown winner Count Fleet in 1943, who won by 25 lengths), and ran the fastest 1½ miles on dirt in history, 2:24 flat, which broke the stakes record by more than two seconds. This works out to a speed of 37.5 mph for his entire performance. Secretariat’s record still stands; no other horse has ever broken 2:25 for 1½ miles on dirt. If the Beyer Speed Figure calculation had been developed during that time, Andrew Beyer calculated that Secretariat would have earned a figure of 139, the highest he has ever assigned….

But hey, here’s the fun part. T’were his feminine side what made him into Superhorse


Ultimately, Secretariat sired as many as 600 foals. There has been some criticism of Secretariat as a stallion, due in part to his perceived inability to produce male offspring of his same caliber. However, he turned out to be a noted broodmare sire, being the maternal grandsire (“damsire”) of 1992 Horse of the Year and successful sire A.P. Indy, Secretariat’s grandson through his daughter Weekend Surprise, and sired by another Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew.

[…] Secretariat’s genetic legacy may be linked in part to the likelihood that he carried the “x-factor” (a trait linked to a large heart, carried only on the X chromosome) and thus, a trait Secretariat could only pass on via his daughters.

New Mexican 19931993 Anniversary headline (from the New Mexican)

[…] necropsyrevealed his heart was significantly larger than that of an ordinary horse. An extremely large heart is a trait that occasionally occurs in Thoroughbreds, linked to a genetic condition passed down via the dam line, known as the “x-factor”. The x-factor can be traced to the historic racehorse Eclipse, which was necropsied after his death in 1789. Because Eclipse’s heart appeared to be much larger than other horses, it was weighed, and found to be 14 pounds (6.4 kg), almost twice the normal weight. Eclipse is believed to have passed the trait on via his daughters, and pedigree research verified that Secretariat traces in his dam line to a daughter of Eclipse….


[* A horse autopsy.]


Secretariat winning triple crown @ Belmont Stakes
June 9, 1973


Santa Fe New Mexican, May 6, 1973, Page 13Results of the Kentucky Derby, barely a month earlier
Santa Fe New Mexican May 6, 1973 — page 13

Oh wait. The period between the Preakness and the Belmont stakes also produced, for one week [May 26-June 2], the number one hit “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group.



Used to have the little sticker in the stores
‘featuring the Hit Single FRANKENSTEIN’

When Secretariat won the Triple Crown, the number one song in America was “My Love” by Paul McCartney and Wings, which had knocked “Frankenstein” off the top spot.

Paul_McCartney_and_Wings_-_My_Love_45 (single)_cover

Paul McCartney and Wings 
My Love 45 (single) cover

Which may have been a perverse omen presaging Secretariat’s difficulties in his later love life.

Just sayin’.


 This is cross-posted from his vorpal sword.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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