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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  8,488 Ratings  ·  304 Reviews
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, bestselling author of Seabiscuit

Updated with a new preface by the author

In 1973, Secretariat, the greatest champion in horse-racing history, wo
ebook, 368 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Hyperion (first published March 21st 1988)
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
This story of 1973 triple crown winner Secretariat is packed with statistics on blood lines & racing stats; William Nack really knows his stuff. However, it is not a dry read at all. His behind the scenes look at the world of horse breeders is fascinating. I particularly liked his spin on the owner Helen Tweedy (aka Penny Chenery), and thought it pretty cool that both the jockey & trainer were Canadians. Now I know what “going the distance” really means, and it’s got nothing to do with F ...more
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A legend is born…

A true story of a remarkable Thoroughbred racehorse that has now also been made into a film for the big screen, Secretariat has to be one of my favorite books on racing ever written. Equivalent to works such as Seabiscuit, Arle and Red Rum this racehorse’s story is one that is heartwarming, magical and truly inspirational proving that the sky is the limit. Fast-paced at a thrilling gallop this story maintains its momentum throughout, where you ultimately loose yourself within th
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did you see the movie? I did, and can definitely say that the 'feel good' movie barely touched the surface of Secretariat and all that was going on before and around him....and was written by William Nack, who was a new Turf Reporter when Secretariat made his 2-year old appearance. So impressed, he decided to keep a journal and a side-focus on Secretariat for the long term.

Therefore, this book starts with the history of the major players in Secretariat's life. The Chenery family, and how The Mea
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction

Maybe it's not fair to compare Secretariat to Seabiscuit, but here I go. While I can't judge who would have won in a race between the two horses, one's story is far superior, and that is Seabiscuit's.

Secretariat came from basically a royal bloodline, he was big and beautiful and upon his death was discovered to have an enlarged heart which may have been what helped him run so fast. I can appreciate that he was quite an amazing animal and probably pretty wonderful to watch (I haven't actuall
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like History or Sports. People who wanted more from the movie.
Recommended to Mario by: Andy Ihnatko
Shelves: audio-books
I picked up Secretariat for different reasons than most. It had nothing to do with Diane Lane or the Disney movie. I don't really even like horse racing. But a gentlemen I trust recommended it to me on Twitter. Andy Ihnatko (@Ihnatko) included this book as one of his Picks of the Week. Having a stack of credits to burn through, I decided to give it a listen.

Secretariat begins slowly. You begin with a thorough foundation of lineage. At first that put me off. Why do I care about horse
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. I liked it a lot more than the movie. I think that if you are a person who is not 'into horses' or does not know a lot about horses, you will like the movie better. This book is so well researched and filled with every single fact you could imagine, but could get confusing if you are not into horses and racing. Great writing, captured me within the first 3 chapters. I learned a lot about racing history in that time period and some of the facts stunned me. This book is a great collect ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really thought I would like this book and couldn't wait to read it but then once I started to read it I realized it was not at all what I expected. There were times in the book when I thought I was reading Genisis when they were going through the lineage of the horses. I really don't understand or care who parented who. I also am not into horse racing so all the timing and how they placed them in the race was foreign to me. I should take the time to learn something new but horse racing is at t ...more
Julia Langevin
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I've always had a love for race horses since my first horse was a OTTB turned eventing horse. The author does an amazing job of sharing Secretariat's story, and the love he had for this horse really showed throughout the entirety of the book. It was amazing to read about his journey leading up to the triple crown, and continuing on after the triple crown. I also learned a lot about the ins and outs of racing, and how even at the speed they're going, horses ca ...more
Do you like equine genealogy? This book is for you!
Do you love horse racing? This book is for you!
Do you like loads of minutiae detail? This book is for you!
If you don't mind a story that jumps around and shifts focus constantly than this book is for you!
Everyone else I would suggest reading a summary or doing a bit of Google research and call it quits. What a slog. Secretariat isn't even introduced until chapter SEVEN! I was so close to putting this one down.
This might be one of those times whe
Jan C
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan C by: Roger Ebert (in his blog)
Shelves: non-fiction
What a wonderful read. What a wonderful horse. What wonderful memories come flooding back of watching him run in the Triple Crown. It is so very nice to see the behind-the-scenes story.

I had to laugh at the thought of the horse raking after watching one of the grooms raking. It made me laugh out loud.
Apr 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that the popular Disney movie was based on. How anybody was inspired to create a movie from this particular book I have no idea. The book was very dry and boring.
Michele A
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book a little slow reading in the beginning
Rick Reitzug
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about horse racing and have wanted to read a book for some time that provides insight into the practices and culture of the horse racing world while also telling a good story. Secretariat more than filled the bill for both of these goals. While the early chapters drag a bit because the author goes into great detail about Secretariat's and other famous race horses genealogy, once you get past these chapters (I skimmed them) the book really gets cooking. I have a much better unde ...more
Brodie Hawkins
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book really hard to get into it. as it talks about the family and history before him.
Joy H.
May 05, 2011 marked it as watched-film-only  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, horses
Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack
Published 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published 1975)
Original title: Big Red of Meadow Stable
Added 5/5/11.
I did not read this book, but I saw the movie:
MOVIE: "Secretariat" (2010)
Stars: Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Margo Martindale
"Penny Chenery Tweedy and colleagues guide her long-shot but precocious stallion to set, in 1973, the unbeaten record for winning the
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book and one of my favorite non-fiction books.

I was eight years old when Secretariat won the Triple Crown. The impression he made on me has lasted a lifetime and motivated me to start a career in horse racing. I have visited Claiborne Farms in Paris, Kentucky, I've seen the stall where he lived, the paddock where he romped and paid my respects at his grave. For me he is and always will be the ultimate racehorse. I regret that I did not visit him when he was still alive. App
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book really took me back to being a horse-crazy 12-year-old who read every Marguerite Henry book I could get my hands on!

The first 3rd of this book was all about the background of the breeding operations - the horses themselves and the farms & families who bred them - that culminated in the big red colt. It kind of boils down to his sire, Bold Ruler who brought the speed, and his dam, Somethingroyal who brought the stamina, but it takes 100 pages to get there.

Then we go into Se
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, an informative look into the life of one of the greatest racehorses in the history of the sport.

It was a quick read, and Nack's descriptions of the races almost feels like he puts you at the racetrack. Nack's writing style, however, put me off right from the prologue. I found myself rereading sentences that were arranged in strange ways or getting disrupted by new paragraphs that seemed out of context. I was also often frustrated by the lack of explanation for racing and breeding jargon
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pets-and-animals
I am not familiar with the race horse world having had little chance to be around horses in my life.
At first the book was confusing with the pedigrees and which horse was bred to which filly interspersed with the birth of Secretariat, a red colt sired by Bold Ruler. Called Big Red by his owners, the foal grows into a colt and exceeds everyone's expectations.
Losing only two races, he goes on to win the triple crown trophy, the last horse having won it being Man O' War, fifty years before. The rac
The first fifty-plus pages contain a detailed explanation of the lineage that led to Secretariat; the pedigree of the horse that in 1973 won all three races of the Triple Crown - - a feat not completed in twenty-five previous years or the thirty-eight-plus years that have followed. This book was the inspiration of the recent film of the same name. Bill Nack's biography does justice to the horse's amazing accomplishments. At this point, Secretariat is arguably the greatest racehorse of all time. ...more
The story of Secretariat is great but this book does not flow like a well written story. It veers between lots of names, dates, places, races; and a novel like attempt at description that often seems overdone, incongruous and unnecessary. I was glad that I did not have to take a test on it and was sorry it did not come with charts of bloodlines and race statistics. One of the problems with the writing, to my mind, was that he does not follow a timeline, he jumps back and forth in time in order ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This biography is written in a narrative form which is very compelling and was difficult for me to put down. The skill and knowledge of this writer is such that despite knowing the outcome of most of the races, I was so wrapped up in the story that I felt suspense and concern over how Secretariat would place. Somehow, this was especially the case for the Triple Crown series, which of course is his claim to fame!
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Mostly poor writing and a lot of minutia...I realize that horse racing is a detailed, rich (RICH RICH RICH) person's game but this book could be summed up as "An amazing horse/ rich people problems." That being said, the racing scenes were exciting to read and Secretariat is incredible.
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lots of detail. Enjoyed the movie better
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Horse race lovers or just horse lovers will enjoy this book immensely. The rest of us will enjoy the movie more.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Almost done. Not a book I would recommend unless you like sports history...which I don't. Mostly about the lines of various horses.
This was an obligation book for me. I read it because one of my students asked me to so that she could use it for her non-fiction book project. Since I'd read "Seabiscuit" the year before for a similar reason, I figured this would be similar. I'd already exposed myself to the world of racing, so this book would be easy to get through, right?

WRONG! At least not for me. Now, I am not a racing fan of any sort, so I'm sure that was part of my problem with the book. Actually, it was like 90% of my p
Kylie Wellington
Kylie Wellington
Mr. Murley
English Lit. 11
21 Sept. 2017
Book Review of Secretariat
In early spring of 1970, Chris Chenery’s beloved farm, The Meadow, was about to foreclose. As he was falling ill to dementia, his daughter, Helen “Penny” Chenery, took over and desperately searched for a miracle to save the history that was the farm. Unbeknownst to Penny, the miracle would come in the form of a foal that was born on March 30th of 1970. Secretariat follows the journey of the big-hearted chestnut and
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-nature
2.5 stars

This is by far the most uninspiring horse book I’ve ever read. And yet it’s not that I disliked it. It was more Moneyball than The Natural. Lots of numbers, lots of detail, lots of research . . . but not a lot of heart.

My overall reaction?


My advice is this: If you skip to the actual running of the Triple Crown races—heck, if you even start at the Belmont (near the end of the book), and also make sure to read the 22-page article* “Pure Heart” included after the epilogue (but befor
Lori Foley
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit that there was a lot of detail in this book that I could have done without. The author goes into great detail about every race Secretariat ran through the Belmont Stakes, including times per furlough. Since I'm not really an avid fan of horseracing, that didn't have much meaning for me (I had no idea before reading this book how fast a horse could run). However, I had to give it at least 4 stars because Secretariat was such an amazing, beautiful horse. I enjoyed the backstory of the ...more
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William Nack in his prime 3 10 Mar 22, 2014 01:22PM  
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William Nack is an American journalist and author. He wrote about sports, politics and the environment at Newsday for 11 years before joining the staff of Sports Illustrated in 1978 as an investigative reporter and general feature writer.

Since leaving S.I. in 2001, Nack has freelanced for numerous publications, including GQ and He also served as an adviser on the made-for-TV-movie Ruffia
More about William Nack...

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“Weave for the mighty chestnut
A tributary crown
Of autumn leaves, the brightest then
When autumn leaves are brown
Hang up his bridle on the wall,
His saddle on the tree,
Till time shall bring some racing king
Worthy to wear as he!”
More quotes…