Secretariat Original 1973 Race-Worn Man o’ War Stakes Winning Shoe


Secretariat’s next to last career race was the Oct. 8, 1973 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park. The 1 1/2 mile $100,000 added race was named for the first Big Red who dominated American racing in 1919 and 1920. To some, the Man o’ War Stakes may have seemed an odd spot for Secretariat to run; he had unexpectedly lost the Woodward Stakes just nine days earlier and he had never run on grass. But for the Meadow Stable team, the race was just one more test of Secretariat’s versatility and a logical step to expand Secretariat’s immediate racing reputation and his future appeal as a stallion.

This modern Big Red had proven himself as a 2-year-old, as a sprinter, a miler, as a Triple Crown contender at classic distances – and now he would try the turf, the preferred surface of European racing. It was certainly a gamble to enter a horse whose syndication literally had millions riding on a successful outcome, but a win would catapult Secretariat to a new level – a horse who could excel on any surface.

And Secretariat did not disappoint his fans nor his shareholders. As in his performances following the losses in the Wood Memorial and Whitney Stakes, Secretariat not only won but also exacted his redemption in the form of establishing a new track record. The Meadow Stable superstar led every step of the way in the Man O’ War Stakes, and won drawing away by five lengths over the esteemed turf champion Tentam in the time of 2:24 4/5 for the mile and a half distance.

The prestigious stakes race also marked Secretariat’s final victory with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard. The Hall of Fame rider, who was not prone to hyperbole surprised fans and the racing press alike, stating “Some people may not believe me, but I always thought he was an even better horse on grass than dirt.”  The spectacular victory erased any lingering doubt regarding Secretariat’s affinity for the grass.

This shoe was obtained following the Man O’ War Stakes, and such was its significance that it was one of the few racing plates that Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery kept in her own personal collection of artifacts, before gifting it to her very close friend and former Blood-Horse editor Charlie Stone. Adding further significance and provenance to the shoe is an accompanying personal note hand-written and dated August 20, 1990 by Ms. Chenery on her distinctive Meadow Stable stationary that documents the shoe and states:

“Charlie – Secretariat wore this shoe winning the Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park and I just wanted you to have it. Penny”

While the shoe displays no distinct casting marks, it is distinctive from other authenticated race-worn Secretariat shoe in that it bears the typical features of an aluminum racing plate specialized for turf surfaces, as well as the inherent marks and scuffs attained while race-worn. The shoe also contains remnants of organic artifacts and other matter within its exterior nail channel.

The shoe along with the handwritten note is mounted on black linen matting in a simple cherrywood frame display It has been officially catalogued in the Secretariat Archives Registry and remains one of only the very few authenticated Secretariat-worn racing plates in existence.

Read more about the 1973 Man o’ War Stakes in Steve Haskin’s The Day The Two “Big Reds” Met


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