44 years ago today

The greatest racehorse in history, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes, and the Triple Crown with such ease it still amazes

 

I must note that in 1973, Secretariat beat another horse, Sham in the Derby and Preakness. In both races Sham and Secretariat blew by the field, showing how special both were. In the Belmont, Sham finished last, but had it not been for Secretariat, Sham likely would have won the Triple Crown that year. Sham was a great horse, but Secretariat was, well Secretariat.

In an odd twist Sham and Secretariat both revealed a secret at their autopsies. An average horse has a heart that weighs 8-10 pounds. Sham’s weighed 19 pounds, Secretariat’s heart was not weighed but was estimated to be 22 pounds. The same man Dr. Thomas Swerczek performed both autopsies

“Certainly, after performing autopsies on several thousand thoroughbred horses, including mares and stallions, no other horse came close to Secretariat’s heart size. The second largest heart I found was the heart of Sham, who actually broke the Kentucky derby record, but still lost to Secretariat. Sham’s heart weighed 19 pounds. The third largest heart I found was stallion Key to the Mint, which was 16 pounds. The majority of all others were smaller, in the range of 10 to 12 pounds. Bold Ruler, the sire of Secretariat had an average size heart. The heart size seemingly is inherited from the female side of the pedigree. When I performed the autopsy on Secretariat, which was necessary because of insurance and we needed to determine the cause of the laminitis, the cause of destruction, I did a cosmetic autopsy. The reason being I did not want to dismantle such a remarkable specimen and the farm personnel and handlers were present to immediately collect all organs in large plastic bags which were immediately returned to the farm to be buried with the body. Normally, with other horses we can keep all organs and the body for further study, or to preserve large specimens, like the heart, but I was not allowed to do this with Secretariat. For this reason, all specimens were immediately collected and returned to the farm, and I did not get a chance to weigh the heart. However, by comparing it to numerous other hearts I got actual weights on, I am certain the weight was between 21 to 22 pounds. So I considered the heart weight officially as 21 pounds. The heart was in perfect shape, not diseased in any way, but just considerably larger than any other horses I autopsied.”

If only Sham has been a year older or younger, but he was destined to be a super horse who faced THE racehorse, Secretariat

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