Secretariat was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years when he crossed the finish line at the Belmont Stakes in 1973 with a lead of 31 lengths. His time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds remains an unbroken course record. The chestnut colt also set a still-standing record at the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the crown. A timer malfunction at the Preakness Stakes put his speed on that track in question. His unofficial time of 1:53 2/5 has been tied twice, but never beaten.
“That horse was a phenomenon,” says Kenneth McKeever, associate director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Now the phenomenon has been immortalized in “Secretariat,” Disney’s feel-good movie about the racehorse and his dynamic owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy.