You’ve likely seen footage of Triple Crown champion Secretariat’s remarkable racing career, and Grover Gardner brings us even closer to the track in his narration of William Nack’s enthralling investigation of the life and career of the champion thoroughbred first published in 1975. Gardner’s deep and robust voice heightens the intensity of those scenes when Secretariat bounds full throttle towards the finish line. Although aware of the outcome already, the suspense and excitement of the competition build all the same throughout this performance.
Following a record-shattering win at the Belmont Stakes in 1973, American thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat (fondly nicknamed “Big Red” by his fanbase) became the first Triple Crown winner in over a quarter-century. His performance has since been unmatched by any other competitor today. Secretariat charts the horse’s career from his calculated birth to his achieving the Triple Crown. Nack traces Secretariat’s lineage, studying his breeding and ownership by two families the Chenerys of Meadow Farm in Caroline County, Virginia, and the Hancocks of Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. These individuals involved in Secretariat’s victory make up a fascinating piece of his history and upbringing.
While horse lovers will thoroughly enjoy Secretariat, fans of investigative biographies and suspenseful narratives will devour Gardner’s rendition of this powerful athlete’s success story. The politics of the Triple Crown make for an intriguing sidebar to this story. Gardner plunges into Secretariat’s competitions with enthusiasm, and his smooth southern accent offers a pleasant reprieve from each pulse-pounding race. Secretariat triumphs in its depiction of horse racing and in moments of quiet investigation. Suzanne Day
In 1973, Secretariat, the greatest champion in horse-racing history, won the Triple Crown. The only horse to ever grace the covers of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated in the same week, he also still holds the record for the fastest times in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. He was also the only non-human chosen as one of ESPN's "50 Greatest Athletes of the Century". The tale of "Big Red" is an enduring and inspiring classic, more than 30 years after its initial publication.
©1975 William Nack. New Preface copyright 2010 by William Nack (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Secretariat is an elegantly crafted, exhilarating tale of speed and power, grace and greatness, told with such immediacy that the reader is lost in the rush of horses and the clatter and ring of the grandstand." (Laura Hillenbrand, best-selling author of Seabiscuit)
If you love horses, you'll love this book. If you're interested in the life story of an American icon, you'll be interested in this book. And if you're a reader who values crisp, strong writing, this book will reward your listening time with many pleasures. Ably narrated by Grover Gardner and concluded with a portfolio of Nack's later writings about Secretariat (read by the author). A winner all the way around the track.
This is a wonderful story and that it is true and happened makes it even more amazing. I remember Secretariat ... I remember watching his astonishing 39 length win at the Kentucky Derby ... and knowing that I'd probably never see anything like that again. And I haven't.
You don't have to be a racing fan to like it. It feels much more like a novel than history and the excellent quality of the writing and smooth narration make it a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Grover Gardner is always good, but I think in this book, he's even better than usual.
If you saw the movie, you will find it interesting how much the book differs from the Hollywood version. The basic facts are the same, but there are many difference both large and subtle. It makes an interesting comparison.
Secretariat was a winner and so is the book. A great read. Not a dull moment!
As a horse lover, I loved this book: the quick tempo, the description coupled with facts, the characters, the post-racing life of the horse, and the excellent narrator—I loved it all. And yes, just like Secretariat himself, the book does start slow but takes off down the homestretch. Some may find the early info on breeding/confirmation too detailed. By the end you may wish the book would never end.
But note this: Nack’s Secretariat is more than a book about a racing legend. It is a biography about the people who raised Secretariat and were affected by him. It is a book about believing in oneself, taking risks, and taking a stand against the status quo. Note that these actual events took place in the 1970’s – a time when few if any women owned racehorses and farms, let alone were willing to leave their marriage to campaign a horse. What Penny Chenery and her barn risked and achieved was remarkable. They had courage. And in the end, they all won.
Enjoy the read.
I was married on the day Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I was sitting in the living room, in my wedding dress at 5:30pm June 9, 1973, waiting for the race to begin. I was to be married at 6:30 and had a good 45 minute ride to the church..........but I wasn't gong anywhere until the big red horse ran. When he crossed the finish line and then into history, I felt this was a good sign for my upcoming marriage. And so it has been....... some 38.5 years later.
It starts out SLOWLY, going through all the bloodline history. If you're not a race fan, it's boring. But once you get to the part where Secretariat was born and his journey into greatness and history........you cant stop listening. What a one of a kind champion, who's record times in the Derby, Preakness and certainly the Belmont will probably never be broken. Cant wait to see the movie.
This book is well-written and the "calling" of the race is well-done. The first several chapters delineate the sires and dams of Secretariat and I found this section somewhat tedious. Once we get into the story of Secretariat and his owners the story picks up and the "book" is hard to put down.
The narrator or the editing process could have used some work, however. There were several words that were simply incorrect. The one that I remember vividly is when the author is relating an exciting segment about Secretariat in a race. The narrator reads it as "Secretariat was lopping along. . . " That stopped me cold (as you can imagine). "What?!" I exclaimed. Then I realized that the word should be "loping". I rewound back a bit because I had lost the momentum of the story.
Not the best written book I've ever listened to and the reader fails miserably on some pronounciations that should have been so easy -- Keeneland, Lexington's track, for one. But, the story is interesting, sidebars fit in nicely. Insight into the owners' lives and relationships is amusing. If you lived in Lexington or followed Thoroughbred racing anytime in the last century, the names of the social gentry and places will fit together.
I was never a book worm until I joined Audible!
This is a well written & well narrated story about one of the (if not the) greatest racing thoroughbreds in the history of the sport. The story draws the reader into the smallest details of the lives of the team that supported Secretariat to & through the successful capture if the Tripple Crown of 1973. This is my third time enjoying this book & loving horses like I do....it might not be the last lol!
My only wish is that in went in depth more. But there are other books for that. Beautifully narrated I got goosebumps listening to the narration of the Belmont Stakes - a race that took place in 73 & I've saw hundreds of times but was still affected by the telling of the story.
I remembered when I was a little girl watching secretariat races on TV. You couldn't help but fall in love with this horse even if you knew nothing about horses.
I'm so glad that I read this book, because it gave me so much more information about the horse itself. I love the movie but of course it was nothing like the book with all its facts and background.
If you like horses you'll love this book. Thank you Audible for making this available to listen to!
Special thanks to my girls Stacy, Sash and Stef for sharing the Audible experience with me and for being there during my multiple recoveries
The headline refers to the fact that in 1999 ESPN counted down the top 50 athletes of the 20th century and Secretariat was ranked 35th. This book by William Nack was the basis for the movie starring Diane Lane as Penny Chenery the horse's owner.
I can remember watching the Triple Crown races with interest for the time in 1973. I had seen the races previously because my mother watched them every year but in 1973 there was enough buzz that I watched them eagerly. This was especially true of the Belmont Stakes when this magnificent athlete was in line to win the first triple crown in 25 years. If you're a fan of great athletes watching Secretariat stretch out the lead in the third quarter mile and eventually win the race by 31 lengths is as stirring as any two legged athletic accomplishment. In fact, to me the only accomplishments that even compare with it are Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game in 1962 and Bob Beamon's 29 ft. 2 & one half inch long jump at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.
This audiobook goes all the way back to Big Red's sire and dam(n)? About the money issues the owner faced and the rivalry between Secretariat and Sham, as well as between the two owners. There are limits to the audio form; horse racing can only be fully appreciated in video. Still this is the most detailed, most comprehensive book on the horse that was almost human. The writer William Nack came to love Secretariat and the feelings that he had for this marvelous horse are all over the words he wrote about him. When the ESPN rankings came out and Big Red was ranked 35th many athletes were offended to have finished behind him. "A horse; are you kidding me a horse?" Those that knew him though had a rejoinder. "Hey you didn't know that horse."
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