Secretariat, one of the greatest horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, was put to death Wednesday because of an incurable hoof condition.
The strapping 19-year-old horse died at Claiborne Farm, where he had stood at stud since his retirement in 1974, one year after he won the Triple Crown and became a legend of American racing."He suffered an incurable condition and was euthanized," said Gus Koch, assistant manager at the horse farm about 25 miles east of Lexington. "He was buried next to stablemate Riva Ridge on the farm."
Koch said Secretariat suffered from laminitis, an extremely painful inflammation inside the hoof.
The death marked the end of one of racing's great sagas. The gleaming colt, known as Big Red, won the Triple Crown in 1973, the first to do so since Citation in 1948.
Secretariat remains the only horse to break the 2-minute mark in a Kentucky Derby and his roaring 31-length triumph five weeks later at the Belmont Stakes remains one of the resounding triumphs in all of sports.
Secretariat was voted Horse of the Year after his 2-year-old season and made headlines again when he was syndicated for what was then a record $6.08 million.
In one week he appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. He once was described as "the horse who restored mankind's faith in itself."
In all, Secretariat won 16 of his 21 starts for earnings of $1,316,808; won the first Triple Crown in 25 years; received two awards as Horse of the Year and one each as champion 2-year-old, 3-year-old and turf horse; set one world record, one American record, three track or course records (one unofficial) and equaled one other.