Of Secretariat’s 62 stakes winners, nine won Grade 1/Group 1 races at the highest level of the sport. Seven were in the United States, one was in England and the other in Australia. Three of the nine were born in 1982 – Fiesta Lady, Image of Greatness and the best of them all, Lady’s Secret. It was one of the best of Secretariat’s 16 crops of foals.
Although his first crop born in 1975 was roundly dismissed as a failure, it did produce the stallion’s first Group 1 winner in Dactylographer. Secretariat book-ended his stud career with the multiple G1 winner Tinners Way in his final crop, foals born in 1990.
I suspect that I may be the only photographer who has personally seen all nine of these G1 winners, and I have some very special memories of them – and some priceless memorabilia. I have halters worn by General Assembly and Kingston Rule, and the saddle cloth worn by Tinners Way in the 1996 Pacific Classic.
Dactylographer. This first-crop son out of the Ribot mare Artists Proof was Secretariat’s first stakes winner, taking the G1 William Hill Futurity in England in1977. He wasn’t able to duplicate that success at three, and was returned to the United States to enter stud in Florida in 1979. I saw him there in 1993. Dactylographer had some success as a regional sire, with seven stakes winners to his credit.
General Assembly. One of Secretariat’s best offspring on the racetrack was also his best son as a sire. The General was one member of the 1976 crop that helped boost Secretariat’s reputation after a rather dismal first crop. He would likely have been a two-time champion if not born in the same year as Spectacular Bid, and his blowout win in the Travers Stakes set a track record that lasted 37 years. General Assembly was a chestnut with a strong resemblance to his father. He spent most of his stud career in Europe, but I was fortunate that he stood in Kentucky for a few years, and I saw him in 1991 at Spendthrift Farm.
Fiesta Lady. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, this filly won two stakes races at two in 1984, including the G1 Matron at Belmont Park. She ran in the very first Breeders’ Cup in 1984; I saw her on race day at Hollywood Park. An injury sent her to retirement before she raced at three. Her daughter Festal produced multiple G1 winner Thorn Song.
Image of Greatness. A flashy chestnut with lots of chrome, Image of Greatness recorded his G1 win in the 1985 San Felipe Handicap and was briefly on the Kentucky Derby trail for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owner George Steinbrenner. However, he fizzled out and was eventually retired to the owner's farm in Florida. I saw him training at Santa Anita and again years later on the farm.
Lady’s Secret. This diminutive gray filly looked nothing like her sire, but she certainly had much of his speed and talent within her. She compiled an enviable record to become known as the Iron Lady, and was named Horse of the Year after a remarkable 1986 campaign that saw her win eight G1 races. She is Secretariat’s only offspring to join him in racing’s Hall of Fame. I saw her a few times at the races, but for most of her career I was still in college. I also enjoyed a personal audience with her one afternoon at Hollywood Park in early 1986, and many years later watched her go through the sales ring at Keeneland.
Risen Star. A big bay colt, Risen Star evoked strong memories of Secretariat with his runaway win in the 1988 Belmont Stakes. I was at Belmont Park that day as a fan, but unfortunately my camera failed and I was left to simply watch him power through the stretch. I finally photographed him a month later at Belmont (thanks to trainer and co-owner Louie Roussel), and once again as a sire at Walmac Farm. Risen Star, who also won the Preakness among other stakes races, died relatively young, at age 13, and I regret not being able to visit him more often.
Kingston Rule. This regally-bred colt was born in Kentucky in 1986, trained briefly in France and then raced exclusively in Australia. There, he won the 1990 Melbourne Cup, the “race that stops a nation.” He set a course record in that race that still stands in 2022, 32 years later. I traveled Down Under to see Secretariat’s look-alike son in early 2007; the owners of the farm couldn’t have been more accommodating.
Super Staff. This 1988 filly found her best stride in America after beginning her career in Europe. Twice in 1992 she defeated future Hall of Famer Flawlessly, gutting it out with her distinctive “head down” running style. She edged that champion in the Las Palmas and Yellow Ribbon, and only a length defeat in the Matriarch was between Super Staff and her own championship. I saw her training at Santa Anita in the winter of 1992/93.
Tinners Way. By far the most accomplished member of Secretariat’s last crop, and his third-leading money earner overall, Tinners Way became a stakes winner at three in Europe but blossomed into a multiple G1 winner in the United States. Among his victories were two consecutive wins in the Pacific Classic, officially equaling the Del Mar track record but actually shading the previous record. I photographed him numerous times – at the tracks, at stud at Vinery and Key Ranch, and a few times at Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky., where he lived out his days as a pensioner.
For a photo gallery of these horses, click on the image of Tinners Way below.