This year marks the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown in 1973, and he still holds the track record in the Preakness Stakes.

To commemorate the occasion, Pimlico is hosting a Secretariat exhibit from the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on the colt’s sweep of America’s top series for 3-year-olds. Outside the clubhouse entrance stands a sculpture of the horse midstride.

The equestrian nonprofit Triangle Foundation commissioned sculptor Jocelyn Russell to create a true-to-life statue of Secretariat. After over 18 months of research and multiple visits with jockey Ron Turcotte, Russell produced a 3,800-pound bronze monument spanning 21 feet hoof to hoof and standing 11 1/2 feet high.

For Russell, the project was more than just a challenge.

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She remembers seeing Secretariat win the Triple Crown in 1973 when she was 12. And, over the years, she and her husband would rewatch his races, especially his triumphant 31-length victory at the Belmont Stakes.

“When he ran, it was a dark time for the country and he lifted our spirits,” Russell said. “I’m still in awe of the horse.”

After the Preakness, the statue is set to travel to the Baltimore County Agriculture Center in Cockeysville, where it will stay until June 4.

Sculptor Jocelyn Russell with Secretariat monument
Sculptor Jocelyn Russell says she is "still in awe" of Secretariat 50 years after watching him win the Triple Crown. (Karl Schmidt)

Inside the exhibit, amid videos of Secretariat competing and old race memorabilia, rest the champion’s trophies, including the three-sided silver Triple Crown Trophy — one of only five in existence.

While calling passersby to the stall, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Director Cate Masterson said there was great energy during Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day.

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“So many people were here 50 years ago,” Masterson added. “There’s a great Maryland racing community.”

Marveling at Secretariat’s gold Kentucky Derby Trophy, Maryland local Nancy Evans remembers watching the horse win the Triple Crown when she was 4. Now, Evans attends Preakness every year, along with other Maryland horse racing events. She even owned a racehorse at one point.

“Secretariat, he gave me the bug,” Evans said.

Brenna Smith is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner.

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