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on September 9, 2010
Growing up Derby Day ranked right up there with Christmas and my birthday.

No, I was not a member of a Bluegrass equine dynasty. I was a Midwestern horse crazed farmkid who memorized thoroughbred bloodlines and racing stats. I dreamed of watching the creation of a War Admiral, Count Fleet or Citation. Many tried and failed. Then a chestnut colt sired by Bold Ruler and trained by the skilled hand of Lucien Lauren granted my wish.

In 1973 Secretariat captured our nation's imagination, no longer did Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley report just on Nixon's Watergate shame and the body count in Nam. We watched him shatter course records as all the racing analysts commented on what heart he possessed. Secretariat captured my heart on Derby Day and nearly 40 years later still has it. One of my few lifetime regrets is that I never got to see him personally, whether racing or later in retirement.

In this book you can feel Mr. Nack's geniune love for racing and most especially spending time with Big Red. My compliments with the updating of his original book on which this one is based. The writing waxes just the right amount nostalgia and sentiment for me while being factual. Mr. Nack's eloquent obituary/tribute to Secretariat in Sports Illustrated is included in this book. If you are not moved to tears when you read it then you have never really loved an animal, especially this one. There will be a movie released in October based on this book. Mr. Nack is a consultant. I sincerely hope his affection for Secretariat and Thoroughbred racing transcends to the Big Screen.

Secretariat was the rarest of his species, a Triple Crown Winner.

A legend with heart.

Enjoy the read! Enjoy the movie!
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It took me a while to finally pick this book up to read it. As I have grown up with the "story" of Secretariat, I thought this might be a basic re-hash of all the things I already knew. I also had seen the movie which is sort of ass backwards to what I normally like to do. BUT let me tell you friends.... this was no re-hash. This was LIVING with the family, with the whole world of racing and sleeping on the shed row with the horses. I have never had such a "you are there" feeling in a book before. Bill Nack is a storyteller extraordinair ! ( Is there such a word?) Even knowing all the races that Secretariat won and the times and lengths he won them by, I got really excited to read each race description. Its like you are right there with horse and jockey. You also are able to soak up the "shed row" experience. Such as the real workings of a race stable in its day to day reality. It was awesome. I loved it. As a kid I used to work race horses for my neighbor and have spent time in many a shed row myself. It brought it back to the point I could almost smell the bran mash cooking. Nack did an incredible job with this book. Its so much MORE than the movie would have the time ever to be. It is the most amazing story about, I think, the most perfect racehorse ever to put hoof to track.
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on June 30, 2013
I chose to read this book after this year's (2013) Kentucky Derby when I was telling my son about Secretariat. Although I like horses, I was never particularly intrigued by them. But I remember as an 11-year-old visiting my cousins' house watching Secretariat win the Belmont on my uncle's brand new color tv! I'll never forget it! I couldn't get this book from the library so i went on Amazon and bought it and I am so glad I did. It is so beautifully written. There was so much emotion conveyed on the pages that I wasn't surprised when at the end of the book it was revealed that the author spent many hours with Secretariat and his entourage in the months leading up to his Triple Crown achievement. The descriptions of the races were so sensational, I actually felt my heart racing while reading them. I cried so many times while reading this book, that I ended up keeping a box of tissues by my side every time I picked the book up! Paradoxically, it is also very instructive of horse breeding and racing. The sport involves so much work, so much faith and so much heart. I developed such a deep respect for all those involved that I'll never look upon horse racing the same way again.

When I realized this book was originally published in 1975 I was concerned that it would end abruptly. But I was much appreciative that this updated version includes Secretariat's stud life and, also, his heartbreaking and untimely death.

A wonderful book that I am glad I own, this one has vaulted over several in my collection as one of the best I've ever read.
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on September 25, 2017
The first 7 chapters of horse genealogy I'm sure is interesting to some readers. I am not one of them. Seabiscuit was a much more engaging book, with enough detail to understand, but without the tedium.
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on November 29, 2010
I must say this book is extremely well written. Bill Nack basically lived with Secretariat for 2 years and what a 2 years it must have been. His book goes deeply into Secretariats bloodlines and the family history of the owners. If you don't know much about horse racing, bloodlines, and the tradition of the sport, you will after this book. Secretariat was in my opinion a freak of nature and never again will there be another one like him. He was THAT great. His workouts were simpling amazing. He broke track records doing so and broke them within races. His Belmont time of 2:24 for 1 1/2 miles is a track and world record and I would be totally and utterly shocked if it is ever broken. He ran a 1 1/4 mile in the Belmont faster than his Derby time which is a track record and still had a 1/4 to run. Horses just don't run faster and faster throughout a race at these distances but Secretariat did. He did this in the Derby and Belmont. Watch the video of the Belmont on YouTube and if it doesn't give you goosebumps then not much will. Also watch the Derby and Preakness on YouTube. His move on the 1st turn in the Preakness is mind boggling.

Bill Nack followed Secretariat until his death in 1989 which he died of the terrible hoof disease Laminitis. Just didn't seem fair for him to die at a relatively young age of 19. Secretariat had several good years of stallion duty left in him and for a disease or condition as laminitis to end his life was tragic.

I highly recommend this book. It is hard to put down and Bill Nack is one of the best sportswriters in history. Enjoy, I did.
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on January 7, 2011
Since I can remember, I've always been "HORSE-CRAZY"!!!! From a very young age, every year I'd eagerly anticipate the early Spring telecast of the first leg of the Triple Crown -- the infamous Kentucky Derby. From that point on, you'd find me in front of that console T.V. for each of those telecasted races, but even though I'd watch and urge my favorite to the lead, somehow I was always a little disappointed when they couldn't quite pull off all three..."Next year" I'd say to myself, and so another year would pass, and the cycle began again.

I'd just turned 16 in 1973 when I tuned into the Kentucky Derby that first weekend in May, and saw a magical horse who sent chills up and down my spine -- he was PERFECT!!! When the camera was on him, I remember making mental notes to myself -- "BEAUTIFUL conformation"....."INCREDIBLE size"...."AND last but not least, my FAVORITE color, a STUNNING chestnut"!!!! That was it...I was in love, and he hadn't even run yet!! When the race began, all I remember thinking was "My word -- LOOK AT HIS STRIDE!!!" -- I felt that I was seeing what people call "GREATNESS" -- HERE was the horse I'd waited for several years to see win the Triple Crown....so I followed/watched the next race -- The Preakness -- another incredible win (I LOVED how he came from behind in his races, like a truck, and literally gobbled up all in his path!!) but it was when I saw him run the Belmont, win by 31-lengths(and STILL gaining ground), that I actually was sitting in my parent's living room, glued to that T.V. with tears in my eyes....I knew I would never see something quite like that again......and here it is, 30+ years later, I've just read the book and the rekindled memories are as vivid now as they were then, and my love for this awesome big red horse no less!

My collection of memorabilia has grown considerably from a 16-year old's scrapbook of newspaper clippings (which I still read every now and then:)), and now also contains this AMAZING "documentary" written by Mr. Nack....trust me, you'll not be able to put it down until that last page is read, and then, you'll be saddened by the fact that it's over. Mr. Nack's incredible writing skill actually makes you feel like you're right there, experiencing every moment with Big Red and his "family"...you'll feel the joy of his wins, the sorrow of his few losses, and you'll marvel at the amazing tenacity and will of the people involved with this beautiful creature...and you'll feel such immense heartbreak when reading "Pure Heart" toward the end of the book, when the incurable disease of lamanitis claims the life of this extraordinary, unstoppable big horse.

For those of you who never had an opportunity to see Secretariet, whether on T.V. or in person, on every page of this book, you DO see him, and are with him every step of the way......and for those of us who saw and experienced that period of time in 1973, when on a glorious day in May we saw the beginning of a legend, THANK YOU Mr. Nack, for bringing it all back to life in such vivid detail!
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on July 29, 2016
My wife really enjoyed Secretariat the film and we both remembered watching his spectacular victory at the Belmont on TV . Since I bought this title for my wife, I'm not certain when I will read it, so this review applies only to the purchase. Although the book came from another dealer, Amazon handled the sale. That in itself is the reason I chose this option. As usual the book arrived in 2 business days, it was in terrific shape and there were no issues whatsoever .
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on August 16, 2008
Thirty six years ago I was a girl who loved horses. I fell for Secretariat because he was beautiful. Over the years I have gone to the races to see horses run, because they are beautiful. Nack's book is not about beautiful horses. It is not about flowing manes and streaming tails and the loving relationship between a horse and his humans. It is about horse racing and in particular describing what made Secretariat the phenomenon he was. In clear, magazine like prose--only occasionally lyrical -- Nack covers his breeding, the unromantic coupling that produced the red horse, his gentling and training. More centrally, it covers the background of the farms and families that owned and managed the horse. The two families key to Secretariat are the Chenerys of Meadow Farm, particularly Penny Chenery Tweedy, and the Hancocks of legendary Claiborn Farm. Penny Tweedy and Seth Hancock are nearly as bred for their businesses as the horses they raised. In taking over the management of Meadow Farm, Mrs. Tweedy has to learn the economics of horse racing and take the chances that this expensive and complex industry demands -- and that Nack ably describes. It is a successful farm, but with her father's death, she must do something to raise the cash to pay the stiff inheritance taxes. The syndication of Secretariat raised a then-record breaking $6MM in four days by the nearly as inexperienced, but farmed raised, Seth Hancock. The investors bought into the 1972 Horse of the Year with a fine albeit brief one year record. They were betting that the virgin horse would race well in 1973 and earn enough in stud fees to earn a nice return on their investment.

With this understanding well in place, Nack describes in detail the races of 1973. His race descriptions combine technical detail (racing to the 12s), summaries of the competition, the jockey's strategies. The race narratives get your heart pounding and add suspense when the outcome is already known. These are the best race descriptions I have read--but I could be prejudiced, because he is describing the best running horse of -- perhaps ever. Broken down by starts and furlongs and stretches, the reader is shifted between the being in the saddle from jockey Ron Turcotte's point of view to the view from the rail, watching the entire field. These are thrilling, exciting, moving passages that educate the reader at the same time--strategies around the curve, horses bumping one another, assessing the competition in split second observations.

Nack also describes the players. Mrs. Tweedy does not show as well as her public persona suggests, much to my surprise. (Does Nack not like Mrs. Tweedy?) The Martins who trained Sham also appear badly, supporting that impression with some whining quotes. Most other figures that peopled those two years show well: the Phipps family, the Hancocks, the trainer Lucien Lurien, Ronny Turcotte, groom Eddie Sweat (who seems under served by this book), Charles Hatton, the Racing Form writer who loved Secretariat from the start and score of others who directly or peripherally were part of Secretariat's life. These are all described as a reporter would describe them, without attempts at psychological insight but through observations and extensive quotations. This is not writing for the little girl who loves horses, this is writing for the adults who people horse racing or would like to.

While Nack does not emphasize it unduly, one thing does come through for the girl who loves horses. More often than not, Secretariat ran his own races. The specific strategy was up to his jockey, but when Secretariat felt like running --and he often did -- Turcotte simply let him run, without a whip, without much encouragement at all. The Triple Crown races are deeply detailed but two of them particularly stand out. At the Preakness, early in the race, horse and jockey move from their usual last place out of the gate and circles the field in a quarter mile in a burst of speed that is amazing, stunning all by itself...and all the more stunning when the horse maintains the sprinter's pace. And the 1972 Belmont is beyond superlatives--Secretariat races the small field entirely on his own, Tucotte "sitting chilly", winning by 31 lengths, moving 'like a tremendous machine', running because he loves to run. I wanted to read the races with the book in one hand and the race clips on You Tube in front of me. Nack explains the races in a way my own observation never could, but, boy, to see that big red horse run is enough to make you cry. That is, if you are, or were, a girl who loves horses.
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on January 17, 2013
I am a Horse lover, and Part-Owner of a relative of Secretariat. 'My' Horse has "Big Red" 4 x 4 x 5 in his Pedigree. I was amazed at the wealth of information regarding Breeding and Pedigrees in William Nack's Book. Much better than the Film which was mainly based on this Book, it showed a rare insight into the goings on in Breeding and Racing. I have learned quite a lot from my reading!
I give William Nack 10/10 for his clever and detailed Research. Also, 10/10 for the emphasis placed on the Horse,the Land, and all the Human beings involved in his complete life!
I purchased another 2 "Secretariat" Books to give as Presents to Horse loving friends! You may also consider looking at the Meadows Website for more info and memorabillia on Secretariat.
If you love Horses, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this Book, and like myself, Enjoy The Moments :-)
Gordon Rogers
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on November 16, 2015
One of the best Animal based movies I have every seen. I love horses, they are magnificant, beautiful, smart and strong animals. If you have never seen this movie, you must see it even if you have to rent it. It will really enlighten you about the stama, diligence and intelligence of these wonderful creatures. A must see.
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