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  • Patricia McQueen

Secretariat and the Hall of Fame

It takes a very special horse to be enshrined in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. As of 2023, there are just 223 horses in the Hall, including runners dating back to the 1800s.

Secretariat, of course, is one of the elite, along with his daughter Lady’s Secret and grandson A.P. Indy. Six other Secretariat descendants have also been inducted, all in the last five years as Secretariat’s impact continues to filter through the breed after 50 years.

Beginning with the 2019 Hall of Fame class, 13 horses joined the ranks through 2023. Of those, four were born in years before Secretariat’s first crop in 1975. Of the remaining nine, six are Secretariat descendants. That is very significant!

There will be plenty more to come. Current Hall of Fame rules require five calendar years between the time a horse retires and the time he or she is first nominated for the Hall. Triple Crown winner Justify is a likely choice next year, and Flightline is a shoo-in when he becomes eligible. And personally, I’ll always hope that Secretariat’s son Risen Star will eventually find his way in.

It’s also notable that three future Hall of Famers were bred to Secretariat. Two produced foals in 1976 who became stakes winners. Filly Triple Crown winner Chris Evert (1988 inductee) produced Six Crowns from her first mating with Secretariat. Six Crowns went on to produce champion and sire Chief’s Crown. And champion sprinter Ta Wee (1994 inductee), a half-sister to the great Dr. Fager, produced Tweak. Tweak has gained prominence recently as the fourth dam of successful young sire Not This Time (and his half-brother Liam’s Map).

The third Hall of Famer bred to Secretariat was Genuine Risk – the prospect of the first-ever foal from two Kentucky Derby winners was exciting! Sadly, she delivered a stillborn foal the first time, and another attempt to breed the two failed.|

Secretariat’s Hall of Fame descendants, with their induction year:

Lady’s Secret (1992) The little gray filly was remarkable. As a 4-year-old in 1986 she won a record eight G1 races on her way to Horse of the Year honors; the previous year she had an eight-race winning streak from sprint distances to 10 furlongs. She performed admirably against the boys in several races, winning the prestigious Whitney Handicap. Lady’s Secret won 25 of 45 starts while never missing a beat, retiring as America’s leading female earner at $3,021,325.

Lady's Secret remains one of the all-time great fillies and mares.

A.P. Indy (2000) A 1989 son of Seattle Slew and Secretariat’s daughter Weekend Surprise, A.P. Indy was a G1 winner at two, then included the Santa Anita Derby, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic among his big wins at three. He won eight of 11 starts, earning $2,979,815, and of course went on to become one of the most important stallions in history. So many of today’s champions trace to Secretariat through A.P. Indy.

A.P. Indy at Gulfstream Park after a morning gallop during 1992 Breeders Cup week.

Royal Delta (2019) Born in 2008, Royal Delta exemplified consistency year after year, following up her champion 3-year-old season with championships at four and five. By Empire Maker, she was out of the multiple graded stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess. Royal Delta’s career included two Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic wins. In total, she won 12 of 22 races for earnings of $4,811,126. Sadly, she died at age nine due to foaling complications after delivering her one and only foal, a daughter by Galileo.

A happy Mike Smith aboard Royal Delta after the 2013 Personal Ensign.

Wise Dan (2020) A rare two-time Horse of the Year who specialized in grass racing, Wise Dan earned that title in both 2012 and 2013. His sire Wiseman’s Ferry was a graded stakes-winning son of the Storm Cat stallion Hennessy, a G1 winner at two. Wise Dan’s second dam was the Secretariat mare Askmysecretary. Born in 2007, the gelding raced from age three to seven, winning stakes races each year. He won the 2011 Clark Handicap on the dirt, but went on to be almost unbeatable on the turf. His wins included two Breeders’ Cup Miles. Overall, he won 23 of 31 starts, for earnings of $7,552,920.

Wise Dan training for his second win in the Breeders' Cup Mile

American Pharoah (2021) Winning the Triple Crown is pretty much an automatic ticket for any horse into the Hall of Fame, and American Pharoah’s historic sweep in 2015 (the first in 37 years) led to his induction the first year he was eligible. A son of Pioneerof the Nile born in 2012, the colt’s dam Littleprincessemma is by the Storm Cat stallion Yankee Gentleman. American Pharoah dominated his contemporaries at both two and three, and closed his career with a runaway win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In total, he won nine of 11 starts for earnings of $8,650,300.

American Pharoah at Keeneland during Breeders' Cup week

Beholder (2022) A tough, durable mare, Beholder was one of the very best. She won four championships – at two, three, five and six. Born in 2010, she is by G1 winner Henny Hughes, a son of the Storm Cat stallion Hennessy (also the tail-male grandsire of Wise Dan). Beholder won three Breeders’ Cup races – the Juvenile Fillies at two, plus the Distaff at three and six. She beat the boys in the G1 Pacific Classic at five, and was victorious in seven other G1 races. All told, she won 18 of 26 races, 16 of them stakes races, for earnings of $6,156,600.

Beholder works for a showdown with American Pharoah; she missed the race due to lung irritations.

Tepin (2022) Unlike Royal Delta and Beholder, Tepin was a turf specialist. Like them, though, she won multiple championships, taking champion turf female honors in both 2015 and 2016. A foal of 2011, Tepin is by the Storm Cat stallion Bernstein, a multiple G3 stakes winner in Ireland. While she did win a stakes race on the dirt, Tepin really blossomed when kept on the turf at ages four and five. Her most notable victories were against the boys: the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile, the 2016 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, and the 2016 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in England. She won 13 of 23 races and earned $4,437,918.

Tepin winning her second consecutive Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

California Chrome (2023) It’s rare for a horse to secure Horse of the Year titles in non-consecutive years, as California Chrome did in 2014 and 2016. One of the most popular horses in recent years, the flashy chestnut colt’s sire is Lucky Pulpit, by A.P. Indy’s son Pulpit. Born in 2011, California Chrome won stakes as a 2-year-old, then advanced at three with victories including the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Hollywood Derby (on the turf). A 2015 campaign was aborted due to physical issues, but he came back with style the next year, recording six straight stakes wins including the Dubai World Cup, Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes. He retired with a record of 16 wins in 27 starts, and his earnings of $14,752,650 were the most of any American-raced runner to that time.

Everybody loves California Chrome, seen here preparing for the Belmont Stakes.

Canada’s Hall of Fame

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame goes beyond inducting horses for their racing accomplishments – it also includes stallions and broodmares who have had significant impacts on Canadian racing and breeding. Through 2023, 111 Thoroughbreds have been enshrined in this Hall of Fame, including Secretariat himself, who closed out his career winning the 1973 Canadian International on the Woodbine turf course.

Six current members of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame are Secretariat descendants. Wise Dan (inducted in 2016) and Tepin (2020) are in there, just as they are in the American Hall of Fame. The others are:

Chief Bearhart (2002, by the aforementioned Chief’s Crown). A six-time Sovereign Award winner, including two Horse of the Year titles; he also won an Eclipse Award as champion grass horse in 1997.

Maryfield (2009, by Gone West’s son Elusive Quality). Awarded the Eclipse as champion female sprinter in 2007; she began her career at Woodbine.

Court Vision (2022, out of Weekend Surprise’s daughter Weekend Storm). His five G1 wins included the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile and the 2010 Woodbine Mile.

Pink Lloyd (2023, by Old Forester, a son of the successful Storm Cat stallion Forestry). All 38 of his starts were at Woodbine; he raced from age four to nine and won 29 races. He was the 2017 Canadian Horse of the Year, and earned seven other Sovereign Awards, five as sprinter and two as older horse.

Secretariat was also bred to four future residents of the Canadian Hall of Fame. The great mare Fanfreluche produced champion Medaille d’Or by the stallion, plus stakes winner D’Accord and a top producing daughter in L’On Vite. Fanfreluche herself was out of Canadian Hall of Famer Ciboulette, who was also bred to Secretariat; the result was the winner National Zenith. The superlative mare Classy ’n Smart was bred to the stallion twice; the best of the two foals was stakes-placed Secret ’n Classy. Finally, Lauries Dancer produced the placed runner Anglophone.


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