I’m writing this article because I just wrote a review of the Disney Film Secretariat for ventwing.com. It brought back the memories of that summer. I was 12 years old and I was just starting to understand the world around me. We had been watching all the evening news reports of the Vietnam War. We had seen the protests on the Universities of this great land of ours. Protests for equal rights for women, protests against the war, protests against gas prices, protests against President Nixon and Watergate. Everywhere we looked people were angry about something.
Our country was being torn apart by the Watergate hearings and the President saying he knew all about it. It was just too much for everyone to handle. This country was a powder keg ready to explode.
I remember sitting in front of the TV and watching my government unravel before my eyes. I was a child and I was being affected by all that was going on.
Then one Saturday for the first time in my life I watched a horse race. It was the Kentucky Derby and it was beautiful. All the women walking around the paddock and the stands in their finest dresses and hats. The men in their suits. I liked this. It stunk of money and I liked money. I have since learned to despise it but back then as a child going to a private school and working with my father in his gun business, I liked money.
Now I knew nothing of horse racing. To be honest my father had to tell me the difference between a male and female horse. I don’t want to go any farther on that subject but needless to say that horse hooked me.
When I saw him leave the gate and he was in the back of the pack. I didn’t think he could do it. Then, he just took off and you couldn’t hold him back. He won the Derby in record time but he also, come Monday morning had taken over a nation.
With his win at the Derby, I noticed a horse on the front pages of the Tampa Tribune rather than protests, riots or Watergate. This is when I started to read the newspaper on a daily basis. This horse had us mesmerized. Two weeks later he would win the Preakness States.
More and more, people would be talking about a horse rather than all the bullshit that was really going on around us. He would start from the back again and again. Then he would hold stride and take the Preakness.
This horse was beauty in action. He had power. He was strong and he was an individual. The talk even among 12 year olds was of horse racing. The talk at the kitchen table was about horse racing. The talk on the TV and the National News still had all the negative BS, but we also had Secretariat.
The Belmont Stakes was the last race for the Triple Crown. We hadn’t had a Winner in 25 years. My mom, dad, and myself were in front of the television ready to watch history in the making.
It was a Saturday like any other but today we had history to watch. Secretariat would once again travel from the back. His longs legs hitting every stride correctly. His muscles rippling under his skin. God he was a beautiful horse. You know we found out that most everybody who was anybody was watching this race. It was shown around the world. I would like to be naive and say that maybe even soldiers fighting might have taken the time to stop shooting at each other to watch the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. As he approached the final turn he was in his own. He knew he was going to be the winner. He knew how a Nation was watching and cheering. He knew he was Secretariat.
He won the Triple Crown that Saturday. He would go on to sire many a winner. That Monday the Watergate hearings were back on. We had a President who was a Liar. We were at war with one of the smallest countries on the globe and all we wanted to do was come home. We had a generation of people who were so screwed up it took another generation just to forget about them. But for a brief moment, the world stopped and we all got off and watched beauty in motion. We watched Secretariat win the Triple Crown.
Thank You Disney for bringing back some wonderful memories.