The Secretariat Bronze Statue is the signature and landmark contribution from the Secretariat Foundation to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Kentucky. Funded through the sale of Mrs. Chenery’s private collection of memorabilia, officially licensed Secretariat merchandise, and both public and private contributions, the life-sized bronze was designated for the Kentucky Horse Park to enhance recognition for the Park and its multi-faceted equine mission. What began In the spring of 1973 when the nation witnessed a big red colt named Secretariat storm to the first Triple Crown championship in 25 years, now lives on in, captured forever in bronze for the world to see.
With jaw-dropping victories at every stop along the way, Secretariat’s performance in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes endures as the manifestation of athletic perfection and his track record times in the Derby and the Belmont still stand more than three decades later.
The bronze statue features Secretariat immediately after the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 1973 as he danced into the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. Led by his longtime groom Eddie Sweat and jockey Ron Turcotte in the irons, the sculpture welcomes visitors to the Park, where they will be able to see this portrayal of the legendary champion at his athletic peak.
Edwin Bogucki, an internationally renowned equine sculptor was selected for the esteemed commission. His depiction of the battle between John Henry and The Bart in the inaugural running of the Arlington Million is a showpiece at the Arlington International Racecourse in Chicago, Illinois. His bronzes and paintings are in museums and private collections around the world.
He began the Secretariat bronze, in a smaller version, after visiting Secretariat at Claiborne Farm in the summer of 1989 – just months before the death of the popular stallion. Photographs, videotapes, sketches and measurements were collected, to be used in conjunction with older photos to capture the horse in prime racing condition.
Bogucki wanted to include Sweat in the bronze after finding a particularly moving photo during his research. It was a picture of a young man sitting upon a low wall at Claiborne, waiting for a ride home. He appeared to be crying. The young man was Sweat, Secretariat’s groom, who had come to Claiborne to deliver his horse into retirement at stud. The heartbreak on his face was unmistakable. Bogucki realized at that moment that he could not do a portrait of Secretariat without including this man who had loved him and been closer to him than anyone else. Sweat died of leukemia on April 18, 1998 but “Shorty,” as he was affectionately called, knew of the project and felt honored to be a part of the memorial.
Bogucki personally met and with Turcotte and Sweat to get measurements to insure accuracy in the portrayal of these two men. It was after talking with them about the horse’s behavior while racing that he decided on one particular moment after Secretariat had just won the Kentucky Derby to be portrayed in the bronze.
On the muscle, dancing on his toes and pulling against the lead strap, it is a scene every horseman recognizes when a horse fresh from the conquest and so full of himself he can barely be reined in. Both Turcotte and Sweat shared this experience with Bogucki recounting how Secretariat had come off the track at Churchill Downs that glorious Derby day, repeatedly lunging against their restraints and nearly dragging Sweat all the way to the winner’s circle. It was at that seminal moment, with all its power, emotion, spirit and tension, that Bogucki so elegantly captured in bronze. It is a tribute, years in the making, to horse, groom and rider that will forevermore welcome new and old fans alike upon their entrance to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Secretariat continues on as a cultural icon, the one racehorse whose name everyone seems to recognize. The Bronze is a testament to generations of fans moved or touched in some way by this equine athlete’s amazing racing accomplishments, but also by the remarkable charisma he displayed to the thousands of visitors who came to visit him over his lifetime at Claiborne Farm.
Mrs. Penny Chenery is pleased to announce that the Secretariat Bronze and Inner Circle Paver Plaza have been installed at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Since unveiling the statue in July 2004, much time and effort was devoted in finding the perfect location to stand this magnificent bronze at the Park.
On April 8th, 2006 Mrs. Chenery, along with jockey Ron Turcotte and Secretariat’s Meadow Stable exercise riders Charlie Davis and Jim Gaffney took part in a dedication ceremony for the bronze and plaza at the entrance to the Park. It seemed only fitting to place the statue adjacent to the famous Man o’ War monument, where both of history’s “Big Reds” represent the pinnacle of Thoroughbred excellence.
It was a moment of excitement and achievement – one that allowed all present the chance to celebrate this accomplishment with the Secretariat team and share their own personal memories of Big Red. Afterwards, the Meadow team remained available to sign autographs, share memories and personally thank all who gave so generously to make this dream a reality. Click Here for more about the Bronze Dedication Event
When visiting the Kentucky Horse Park, take the time to read some of the inscribed pavers, displaying messages and tributes to this Thoroughbred legend, and reflect on this wonderful gift to the Commonwealth and to the legion of fans and visitors who, for generations to come, will continue to celebrate Secretariat’s enduring legacy.
For general information, contact the Kentucky Horse Park toll free (800) 678-8813 or visit their website at www.kyhorsepark.com for park admission fees, directions and other information.