Secretariat’s 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes was one of the 20th century’s most lauded moments in sports: Two minutes and 24 seconds that are forever sealed in the American consciousness as Big Red captured the Triple Crown. After a performance for the ages, the newly crowned champion proudly donned the impressive blue Presentation blanket with white hand-stitched lettering, a gift from the New York Racing Association to Meadow Stable.
Like a time traveler bearing the glory of that historic day, this blanket will be offered in a landmark Secretariat memorabilia auction later this autumn along with jockey Ron Turcotte’s 1A armband from the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat’s Preakness garland, and other significant racing artifacts.
These impressive auction pieces will premiere at Equestricon, Aug. 13-15, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which is expected to be one of the most significant events for sports collectors in recent memory. What many will find unique is that the connections will be on hand to share their memories with fans and collectors alike. Ron Turcotte, Secretariat’s exercise rider Charlie Davis and author Bill Nack will join other racing luminaries at the inaugural horse racing convention and trade show.
In addition to the Secretariat memorabilia, the auction also will feature distinguished items commemorating two other Thoroughbred Horse of the Year champions and their legendary racing performances: Dr. Fager’s 1968 Suburban trophy and Arts and Letters’ 1969 Travers trophy. Both pieces emanate from the personal collection of Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza.
At the Equestricon premiere, advanced bids on all five select auction items will be accepted by notable sports auction house Lelands, and bidding will continue online for several weeks through the website Lelands.com.
“Equestricon’s efforts to offer horse racing fans unprecedented accessibility is sure to be a much-needed catalyst in racing,” said Mrs. Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner. “So this is the perfect setting to debut this collection, which has been almost a half century in the making. I’m very hopeful that the impact of both Equestricon and the auction will be a complete success providing recognition for our industry and for the causes so important to our sport and its equine athletes.”
Turcotte’s 1A armband has been in protected storage during the past 44 years, a coveted keepsake from Secretariat’s record-setting win in the 1973 Kentucky Derby, during which the reigning Horse of the Year ran each quarter faster than the one before.
The Preakness garland has been displayed at various venues during the past year in anticipation of the auction, and its proceeds will benefit R.A.C.E. Fund, the TAA-accredited charity assisting racehorses in need of retirement and rescue from slaughter.
The 1973 Belmont Stakes Presentation blanket, a personal favorite in Mrs. Chenery’s private collection, has been on loan for the past several decades to the Kentucky Horse Park, where thousands of visitors may remember seeing it on display.
Lelands has seen a growing interest and popularity for racing memorabilia, and Equestricon is expected to provide collectors with an exciting new venue to showcase some of the industry’s most historically significant items and possibly discover new ones. Lelands will be offering an information and appraisal station at the three-day event, the first of its kind solely for horse racing memorabilia, where anyone can bring their collectibles and learn more about their potential value.
“We are excited and honored to be working so closely with Secretariat.com and Equestricon,” said Mike Heffner, Lelands’ president. “This auction should prove to be one of the most historic ever, offering collectors one-of-a-kind items from not only Secretariat, but also many other fine items from world-class horses and jockeys.”
More information about the Secretariat auction can be found on Secretariat.com, the official website for the 1973 Triple Crown champion, and its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.