The Last Secretariats
Updated: Aug 15
In May 2016 I had a wonderful visit with Innkeeper, a 28-year-old son of Secretariat. As a pensioned stallion, he was living the pampered life and lovingly tended to by college students at the Virginia Tech MARE center. It was only fitting that Secretariat’s son was helping teach those students about managing stallions after his full life as a racehorse, breeding stallion and sport horse.
Meeting Innkeeper launched me on a journey to find other living sons and daughters of Secretariat; the youngest in 2016 would have been 26 years old, still fairly old for Thoroughbreds. There was of course Tinners Way, one of Secretariat’s best runners, who was a popular retiree at Old Friends until his death in the summer of 2017. But I knew there had to be others, and eventually I found 11 of them in North America. Their full stories are available as part of my “Children of Secretariat” series on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary website. Innkeeper’s story was the first to be told, but these are the others.
General Poppy was a remarkable 34 years old when I first met him in 2017. Born April 22, 1983, he failed to win in seven starts as a racehorse but eventually developed into a world-class fox hunter in Virginia. He was officially 35 before age finally got the best of him just a week before his actual 35th birthday in 2018. More about General Poppy.
The only stakes winner of the last 11 was Fast Market, a Secretariat look-alike nicknamed “Little Red” in his racing days. Born in 1986, he holds the distinction of being the most-raced son or daughter of Secretariat with 144 starts. He had a great life in retirement and even had his own Facebook page. He died shortly after his official 33rd birthday in January 2019. More about Fast Market.
Time Alert is another who is notable among all of Secretariat’s offspring – he was the very last runner sired by the Triple Crown winner, finishing second in a race at Woodbine on May 1, 1999. In retirement, he often made appearances at Woodbine to help raise awareness and funding for retired Thoroughbreds. A foal of 1989, Time Alert passed away at age 29 in April 2018. More about Time Alert.
Two members of what I called the Living Legends class were full brothers to some of Secretariat’s best offspring. One was Torbay, a full brother to Tinners Way who was born in 1987, three years before his brother. Torbay won a few races, but was most successful in retirement as a fox hunter, show horse, outrider’s mount and weanling babysitter, among other things. He lived to the ripe old age of 32, passing in February 2019. More about Torbay.
Border Run is the other royal member of the class, being a full brother to both Terlingua and Pancho Villa. He was actually stakes-placed at the racetrack, but after his retirement, there was a 15-year gap in the gelding’s history. He turned up in 2011, and as of June 2022, Border Run is the oldest of the two known remaining Secretariats at age 34, having been born in 1988. More about Border Run.
Even offspring of famous horses can end up in unfortunate circumstances due to uncaring humans. Fortunately for Albany’s Secret, good people stepped in and found the Secretariat mare a loving forever home at age 23 in 2011. She was pampered beyond belief in her last seven years, until she died peacefully in August 2018. More about Albany’s Secret.
Only one of the final 11 spent retirement in the pastures of big working Thoroughbred Farms. Ball Chairman was a G1 producing mare, and her son Perfect Soul was a Canadian champion. She lived for years at the famed Coolmore Stud in Ireland, before returning to America to live out her last decade on her owner’s sprawling breeding farm in Kentucky. A foal of 1988, she left life on her own terms at age 33 in early 2021. More about Ball Chairman.
Secretariat’s Fire and Secret of the Sea were two horses I had seen back in their racing days as part of my project photographing the members of Secretariat’s last crop born in 1990. It was wonderful to see them again some 25 years later.
Secretariat’s Fire was trained by some of the best in the business, first D. Wayne Lukas and then Bill Mott, but her racing record didn’t show much. Although she didn’t produce much as a broodmare either, she ended up in the hands of someone dedicated to preserving Secretariat’s bloodlines. She has been sorely missed since her passing in November 2018. More about Secretariat’s Fire.
Secret of the Sea showed promise as a racehorse, but injuries compromised his career. He wasn’t much more than a big puppy dog in retirement, although he did enjoy being a pleasure riding horse for a while. He transferred hands when he was 21, and lived nine more happy years until physical problems got the best of him in late 2020. More about Secret of the Sea.
The last known Secretariat to surface was Trusted Company in late 2018, when she was already 29 years old. She had lived in the same family since her early breeding days, but circumstances changed and she needed to find a new home. The mare made the transition very well, and is still a happy and healthy 33-year-old as this is written in June 2022. Born in 1989, she’s one of the last two known living Secretariats along with Border Run. More about Trusted Company.
These 11 horses may have had different paths to their place in history, but whether they lived in their loving final homes for decades or for just a few years, they have all spent that time loved and admired by their owners. I am forever grateful to those owners, who shared their precious charges with me and allowed me to share them with others through the TRC articles and the Secretariat’s Living Legends charity calendar series; the four calendars from 2018 to 2021 raised more than $23,000 for equine charities.
Find the full stories of all these horses in the "Children of Secretariat" section of the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary website. Click on Border Run below to go to the Last Secretariats gallery for photos of all these wonderful old horses!